BROCK AND SALK

Mariners Trade Deadline: A look at 3 potential routes with ESPN’s Passan

Jun 18, 2024, 11:55 AM | Updated: 2:05 pm

Seattle Mariners trade deadline Isaac Paredes Randy Arozarena...

Randy Arozarena celebrates a 2023 home run against the Seattle Mariners with Isaac Paredes. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners have the biggest lead of any MLB team sitting in first place of their division, and opportunity before the MLB trade deadline next month seems to be knocking.

Passan: Why Mariners’ nine-game AL West lead is ‘kind of wild’

With some clear needs remaining on their roster, especially for the lineup, it’s expected that the M’s will be active in the trade market. But where should their focus be?

ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan shared his insight on three potential trade routes for the Mariners when he joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk for his weekly 8:30 a.m. Tuesday conversation. Let’s break down what he had to say.

What kind of bat do the Seattle Mariners need?

Despite entering Tuesday with a 43-31 record and nine-game lead over both Texas and Houston for first in the American League West, the M’s rank near the bottom in a number of offensive team categories this season. That includes OPS (.667, 25th in MLB), slugging (.367, 23rd), doubles (95, tied for 28th), triples (seven, 26th), and runs (288, 24th).

Asked by guest host Mike Lefko which potentially available hitter the Mariners should be in on, Passan zeroed in on somebody who could help boost some of those numbers.

“I mean, is it Pete Alonso? You know, we’re not talking great contact, he still strikes out. But isn’t Alonso the guy?” Passan said of the powerful New York Mets first baseman.

The 29-year-old Alonso is set to hit free agency after this season, and he has 15 home runs, 17 doubles and a .239/.317/.464 slash line for a .781 OPS. The 34-37 Mets could be sellers at the deadline as they’re currently fourth in the National League East, which is 13 1/2 games back of first-place Philadelphia.

Why would Alonso be “the guy” for the Mariners, as Passan put it?

“They need slug,” he said. “It’s very simple to me – I look at this roster and I look at this lineup, and Cal Raleigh leads the Mariners with a dozen home runs. The next highest total is (eight). I think Cal Raleigh leads in runs batted in (with 43), as well. I think the next highest total is Mitch Haniger with 30. This is not a lineup that has enough pop in it, I think, to reasonably sustain itself throughout October.”

Can M’s make a splash with Tampa Bay?

The Rays are used to contending under two-time AL Manager of the Year Kevin Cash, but they’re sitting in last place in an especially tough AL East this year. They’re also known for trading off veteran pieces to keep their farm system stocked, so they seem as likely of a trade partner for the M’s this season as any other team.

Asked by host Brock Huard about the Rays as a trade fit for the M’s, Passan mentioned three names.

The first is someone who came up in rumors over the offseason as a potential M’s target: third baseman Isaac Paredes, who is doing a good job following up a breakout 2023 season. After slashing .250/.352/.488 for an .840 OPS with 31 homers and 98 RBIs last year, the 25 year old is slashing .281/.360/.462 (.822 OPS) with 10 homers and 38 RBIs in 67 games this season.

Third base was a question mark for Seattle going into the year, but it’s less so now thanks to Josh Rojas, who not only has been one of the Mariners’ best hitters but actually leads all MLB third baseman defensively with 6 outs above average, per Statcast.

“This is weird to say, I almost look at Josh Rojas at third base and say he’s gotten so good defensively over there … (and) he’s been an above-average offensive player – he’s not a star, but I almost wonder at this point, if you look at third base (as a position the Mariners don’t need to upgrade),” Passan said.

While Paredes’ defensive value is far lower than Rojas’ with minus-2 OAA, his bat is still intriguing enough to Passan. Plus, Rojas can play a few other positions in the field.

“Listen, I would take Isaac Paredes over Josh Rojas,” Passan said. “I would because his bat is pretty awesome, and his pull-side power is special.”

As for the other two Rays mentioned by Passan, they’re both buy-low candidates: first baseman Yandy Díaz and outfielder Randy Arozarena.

Díaz led the AL with a .330 batting average last year and also reached base at a .410 clip, though his slash this year is down to .259/.326/.355 (.680 OPS). Arozarena, an outfielder who was the 2021 AL Rookie of the Year and a 2023 All-Star, is seeing an even more pronounced swoon this year, slashing only .178/.291/.326 (.617) in 70 games.

The Luis Robert sweepstakes

The biggest available name before the trade deadline could be the star White Sox outfielder who the Mariners watched hit three homers against them in a four-game series last week in Seattle.

The 26-year-old Robert has as many homers as the Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez (seven) in only a quarter the amount of games – Rodríguez has played a league-high 74, while Robert has appeared in just 19 due to injury. But the Mariners don’t need another center fielder, and the price for Robert in a trade may be at a premium due to his ability at the position, as Passan mentioned last week.

Robert’s bat would certainly help Seattle’s lineup, even if it means moving him to a corner outfield spot. So if the M’s decide to go after him, how stiff would the competition be? Passan laid it out:

I think the Phillies are probably the biggest threat there because they, like the Mariners, have a very good farm system. And they, like the Mariners, have a very acute need for an outfielder. And they, like the Mariners, are a really good team with World Series aspirations. So I think Philadelphia is probably at the top of that list.

You could look at the Los Angeles Dodgers, too … (but) they have such a surplus of talent already, and the idea that you’re gonna add Luis Robert to the mix and that it’s going to make a a demonstrable difference (doesn’t add up). I think the Dodgers may, because of Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Mookie Betts’ injuries, take a step back, pump the brakes a little bit and say, ‘OK, let’s assess where we are. Is this a year where we want to go full-send?’

… Then you’ve got sleeper teams. There’s no better fit for Luis Robert than Kansas City, honestly. The Royals need an everyday center fielder, they need a middle of the lineup bat. Problem is, I’m not sure that they have the prospect capital to go and get him.

One thing that I do know is that the White Sox are looking for bats, and I’ve said this on this program before and I will say it again, I’m not sure there’s a better organization in baseball when it comes to bats in the minors leagues than the Mariners. The farm depth that they have on the offensive side, considering especially where there were even two years ago, is just tremendous, and it’s gonna be the sort of thing that allows them to go and make a move like getting Robert if they want.

Listen to the full Brock and Salk conversation with ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

More on the Seattle Mariners

Mariners DFA catcher Zavala in move that has interesting ramifications
Mariners Insider: Quick hits after AL West leaders’ 6-1 homestand
Cal Raleigh didn’t buy Logan Gilbert’s compliment about his new look
What’s behind Mariners’ drastic home success, road struggles?
Three bold predictions for Seattle Mariners: Trades, All-Stars, more

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