Where Mariners should be comfortable trading prospects from

Jun 20, 2024, 6:54 PM | Updated: 8:00 pm

Seattle Mariners...

President of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto of the Seattle Mariners watches a 2023 batting practice with manager Scott Servais. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

With a division lead that’s been as high as 10 games this month, the Seattle Mariners are in a favorable and unfamiliar position as the MLB season nears its midpoint.

The Seattle Mariners’ less-talked-about trade deadline need

The Mariners sit rather comfortably atop the AL West at the moment, but there’s still plenty of season left to play. To maintain their status as the top squad in the division the rest of the way and make some noise afterwards in the playoffs, the M’s are likely going to need to add some pieces ahead of the July 30 trade deadline. That especially rings true considering the Texas Rangers could have Cy Young winners Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer back for the stretch run. Plus, we just saw the AL Central-leading Cleveland Guardians could give Seattle some major trouble in a potential postseason series.

The good news for Seattle on that front is that the organization certainly seems to have the sort of stockpile of talent in its farm system to be aggressive buyers at the deadline. That leads to the debate of just how much talent should Seattle be comfortable parting with, and exactly who the team should be willing to shop.

Senior MLB writer Will Sammon of The Athletic joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Thursday for a conversation about the Mariners, and the trade deadline was a big part of the conversation with co-hosts Bob Stelton and Dave Wyman.

“I think even now people look at the Mariners and they say, ‘Well, they should be aggressive with some kind of push for some offensive help.’ And by all indications, it seems like they will be,” Sammon said. “At least that’s what the expectation is from the outside, from rival clubs, from evaluators. Just across the board people expect this team to make some kind of play to address that need.”

The place to trade from

Sammon described the place Seattle is in as a “fascinating case” due to the structure of its loaded farm system and the overall amount of homegrown talent on the roster. The Mariners had seven players ranked in Baseball America’s most recent top-100 prospect update, including six position players.

One of the pieces that puts the Mariners in a fascinating position is the abundance of talent in the middle infield, where the organization has several players with a chance at playing shortstop in the big leagues and three who hold top-100 prospect designation from various publications. The stockpile of middle infield talent includes Cole Young (in Double-A), Colt Emerson (High-A), Felnin Celesten (Rookie Ball) and Tai Peete (Single-A). All were first-round draft picks or pricey international free agent signings.

“They have a lot of options there,” Sammon said. “They have some depth there, and, frankly, it’s kind of a surplus. That’s the way that people look at it. So that’s the area I think to trade from.”

In order to make the right decisions of who to trade from that surplus, the team needs to have it’s internal scouting on point, Sammon said.

“A lot of the real jewels of their system are guys across the A-ball levels, and so they have some ways to go in order to really be seriously considered Major League ready,” he said. “That’s two, three years (away), and not all of them are going to pan out and, frankly, most of them maybe won’t. But a couple of them will, and you just have to know your system and be really good at your internal scouting to know what you have and to know what you could part with.”

Sammon also believes that making an impactful trade doesn’t necessarily mean the team needs to part with one of its best prospects, which are often considered to be Emerson, Young or catcher Harry Ford.

“I’m not saying that they should trade like their number one or two players there, and you could even go even lower than that because of how loaded they are and how much depth that they have,” Sammon said. “Like you could (trade from) that mid-tier and still get some offensive help for your lineup.”

‘The end goal should be to win’

When it comes to trading prospects, there’s two philosophies that many like to shout. One is that trading years of control on potential future stars for short-term solutions can cripple the long-term outlook of a franchise. In Mariners land, deals like the one that sent Adam Jones and Chris Tillman to Baltimore for Erik Bedard, or more recent trades sending away future All-Star pitchers Freddy Peralta and Pablo López for not much in return, are ones people like to point to.

The other would be that prospects are no guarantee to pan out in the majors and capitalizing on their value while its perhaps at its highest is the way to go. For example, the Cincinnati Reds haven’t gotten much (yet) from the return they received for sending Luis Castillo to Seattle before the 2022 deadline. Pitching prospect Levi Stoudt was DFA’d and actually ended up back in the Mariners organization, shortstop Edwin Arroyo has seen his prospect stock drop and the centerpiece prospect of the trade, shortstop Noelvi Marte, was suspended for 80 games in March for violating MLB’s performance enhancing drug policy.

According to Sammon, it’s really a little bit of both, but not exactly equal.

“There is that balance of like, ‘Hey, we need to have a farm system.’ But that shouldn’t be the end goal,” Sammon said. “The end goal should be to win, and you have a situation here where it’s right there in front of you.”

Listen to the full conversation with The Athletic’s Will Sammon at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Wyman and Bob weekdays from 2-6 p.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• ESPN’s Passan: Could Mariners win World Series with current roster?
• Mariners Insider: An unexpected move that may pay off for all involved
• Mariners’ Josh Rojas has elite ‘instincts,’ Gold Glove case at 3B
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