A team that could help Mariners at trade deadline in multiple ways

Jun 26, 2024, 8:30 AM

Blue Jays Vlad Jr. Mariners 2024...

Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homers against the Seattle Mariners on April 10. (Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

(Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

With a pitching staff that looks like it could lead a deep playoff run but an offense that struggles to score more than two or three runs a game, the Seattle Mariners are a prime contender to be in on the action as the July 30 MLB trade deadline approaches.

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But at this point in the season, it’s difficult to find many legitimate trade partners for the M’s due to an abundance of squads still being right in the thick of at least a wild card race. This rings especially true in the National League, where all but two of the 15 teams are within three games of a playoff spot.

In his weekly appearance with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Tuesday, ESPN senior MLB writer Jeff Passan pointed out that there is a team that could help break up that parity and grease the trade wheels in the NL. That team actually resides in the AL: The Toronto Blue Jays.

“The question there will be, ‘OK, is it (starting pitchers) Yusei Kikuchi and maybe Chris Bassitt? Or is it them and (first baseman) Vladimir Guerrero (Jr.) and (shortstop) Bo Bichette?” Passan said. “Like, do they go half-measure? Or do they go full sell? And that I think is going to really determine just how exciting and intriguing the rest of this trade deadline is, because with Guerrero and Bichette, they’ve got the goods, and with the other guys, they’re just trying to take advantage of a market that otherwise is not all that exciting.”

Stacy Rost and Curtis Rogers listened to what Passan had to say about how the Blue Jays could affect the deadline, and they discussed the situation further on Bump and Stacy.

“They have so much power that they wield right now in Toronto,” Rogers said. “They could get pretty much anybody that they want in return for Guerrero just based off of how little amount of teams there are in obvious sell situations (that) are willing to do business right now.”

After reaching the playoffs three times in the past four seasons, Toronto has taken a step back in 2024, and it also has the unfortunate designation of playing in the rugged AL East. The Blue Jays snapped a seven-game losing streak on Tuesday, but they’re still way out of their divisional chase in last place and 15 games behind the Yankees. At 36-43, Toronto is also 6 1/2 games off the last AL wild card spot, which is better than just the White Sox, A’s and Angels.

“You’ve got the majority of the National League, basically everybody but the Marlins and Rockies, still alive in this thing,” Rogers said. “That’s going to muddy things up in a big way, considering that half of baseball is essentially in it, plus all the other teams in the American League. I look at this trade market right now, Stacy, and, man, if I’m the Blue Jays, I think right now would be the best time to sell.”

The Blue Jays, a Mariners trade partner?

The Blue Jays’ ability to potentially make the dominoes fall in the NL trade market would certainly be helpful to a Mariners team that’s seen its double-digit lead in the AL shrink to just 4 1/2 games during a woeful road trip that’s coincided with small surges by the second-place Houston Astros and third-place Texas Rangers.

If a team like the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds or Washington Nationals were to make a difference-making deal with Toronto, it could potentially tip the scales and prompt the a team like the New York Mets to make a decision on whether they’re a buyer or seller. According to Passan, the Mets possess Seattle’s best trade fit in slugging first baseman Pete Alonso.

However, Rost and Rogers also brought up the Blue Jays as a potential match with the Mariners, specifically the multi-time All-Star bats with club control through 2025, Guerrero and Bichette.

“I think if Pete Alonso doesn’t become available, then you have to shift,” Rogers said, “and I think Vlad Guerrero Jr. is that guy you shift to, especially if you’re looking for first base pop.”

Guerrero, the winner of last year’s MLB Home Run Derby held at T-Mobile Park, has slugged 140 home runs since debuting in 2019 with a single-season high of 48 in 2021. His power numbers have declined in each season since, but he’s still slugged a combined 68 homers in the two and a half seasons since and remained a valuable run producer at the plate. In 78 games this season, he’s slashing .286/.368/.429 with 13 doubles, 10 home runs, 36 RBIs and a 129 OPS+. He’d also help Seattle’s strikeout problem, as he sports a 16.5% strikeout rate that’s in the 78th percentile of MLB players.

Bichette has posted an OPS over .800 in each of his three full MLB seasons, led the league in hits twice and hit a career-best .306 last season, but it’s been a bit of a struggle for the two-time All-Star in 2024. In 66 games this season, he’s hitting .237/.286/.342 with 13 doubles, one triple, four home runs, 28 RBIs and an 81 OPS+.

“(Guerrero) hit a 470-foot home run last night at Fenway Park. His power is undeniable, like he’s absolutely going to mash in terms of just distance on his home runs,” Rogers said. “But outside of Guerrero, Bichette is on the 10-day IL right now, and he has struggled mightily this season.”

Rogers also brought up a couple of complimentary pieces on Toronto that the Mariners could have some interest in.

“Another name maybe offensively that you look at would be Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, who has a lot of positional flexibility, can play everywhere in the infield, including catcher,” Rogers said. “I don’t know if they would be willing to part with him. Justin Turner, another guy who I think was mentioned in terms of third basemen this past offseason that the Mariners could have interest in.”

Listen to the full conversation with Jeff Passan at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Hear the full conversation on Bump and Stacy at this link or in the audio player near the middle of this story.

More on the Seattle Mariners

There’s a factor working against Mariners’ trade needs
Mariners place right-hander Bryan Woo on 15-day IL
• Latest promotion brings a top Seattle Mariners prospect to Everett
Where’s Julio’s power? Insiders weigh in on his ‘mystifying’ first half
• Passan: Why Pete Alonso is best trade fit for Seattle Mariners

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A team that could help Mariners at trade deadline in multiple ways