BROCK AND SALK

Mariners Trade Targets: Rays who could address M’s needs

Jun 24, 2024, 12:40 PM

Tampa Bay Rays Isaac Paredes Twins 2024...

Isaac Paredes of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates his home run against the Twins on June 19. (David Berding/Getty Images)

(David Berding/Getty Images)

As the first-place Seattle Mariners open a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Tropicana Field, they might get an up-close look at some potential trade targets.

Morosi: The familiar Mariners trade partner to keep an eye on

The Rays have struggled to a 38-40 record this season, which has them 13 games back in the American League East and four games out of the AL’s third and final wild card spot. According to FanGraphs, their playoff odds are just 16.8%. That puts them in position to be a potential seller at the trade deadline.

During an appearance on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Monday, 10 Tampa Bay sports director Evan Closky discussed the Rays’ status as a potential seller and mentioned some possible players the Mariners could target to bolster their roster.

“The probability of (the Rays) making the playoffs is still less than 18 percent, so putting that in the grand scheme of things, the Rays are a very smart front office and they understand that this is a seller’s market this season,” Closky said. “So I think it would behoove them to sell if the right deal presents itself. And considering that a lot of teams are going to be in the hunt, they might be able to get some guys for an overpriced amount and really build themselves for the next few seasons. I know the Rays would love a guy like (highly rated Mariners prospect) Harry Ford, because they need a catcher so badly.”

Potential Rays hitters to target

Closky mentioned 25-year-old third baseman Isaac Paredes as a great match for Seattle. Paredes, who is under club control through 2027, hit 31 home runs last season and is batting .280/.365/.459 with 11 homers and an .824 OPS in 73 games this season. He also has just a 16.6% strikeout rate, which ranks 19th out of 71 qualified hitters in the AL, according to FanGraphs. That could be of particular interest for the Mariners, who have an MLB-worst 27.3% strikeout rate.

“If the Mariners can figure out a way to get Isaac Paredes, I do think that that is a perfect guy for them to grab, because he’s somebody who doesn’t strike out often, makes contact, has power,” Closky said. “He does everything that this team lacks a little bit with the bats, considering half of the Seattle Mariners lineup is the three true outcomes of home run, walk, strikeout.”

Another possible target is 32-year-old first baseman Yandy Díaz, who hit a career-high .330 with 22 homers during an All-Star season last year. This season, he’s .271/.331/.384 with six homers and a .715 OPS in 77 games. He has an even lower strikeout rate than Paredes, ranking sixth among AL qualifying hitters at just 13.8%. Díaz is in the second season of a three-year, $24 million deal that includes a club option for 2026.

“I don’t think anybody’s necessarily like off the table,” Closky said. “Now, Yandy Diaz is an amazing player, someone who I’m sure they’re gonna want the next couple of seasons. He’s cheap in the grand scheme of things, but for a very revenue-focused team like the Tampa Bay Rays, that’s very important. … So (I’m) not saying that Yandy’s off the table, but you might have to overpay for him.”

Potential Rays relievers to target

The Mariners could also look to add an arm or two to their bullpen, which has been hampered by injuries this season. Closky said the two relievers the Rays would be most likely to trade are 33-year-old right-hander Shawn Armstrong and 31-year-old right-hander Phil Maton.

Armstrong is a 10-year MLB veteran who spent parts of the 2018 and 2019 seasons in Seattle. He has a 3.53 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 35 2/3 innings this season, with 39 strikeouts and 13 walks.

Maton, who spent the past three seasons with the Houston Astros, is an eight-year MLB veteran who signed a one-year deal with Tampa Bay in February. He had a strong 2023 season in Houston, posting a 3.00 ERA and 1.12 WHIP with 74 strikeouts and 25 walks in 66 innings. However, he has struggled to a 5.28 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 29 innings with the Rays this season.

“The two (relievers) that I think are probably gonna go by the deadline are Shawn Armstrong and Phil Maton, so if the Mariners wanted to work out a bigger deal with the Rays, I would imagine maybe those pieces get kicked in along with it,” Closky said. “They are some pieces in the bullpen who you throw into a bigger deal and sweeten the pot a little bit.”

Listen to the full conversation with 10 Tampa Bay sports director Evan Closky at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

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Mariners Trade Targets: Rays who could address M’s needs