Big Game Hunting: Two splashy potential Mariners trade targets

Jun 28, 2024, 12:21 PM

Seattle Mariners trade target Cody Bellinger...

Cody Bellinger of the Chicago Cubs in a game against the Rockies. (Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

(Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

Based on how the Seattle Mariners’ offense has performed to this point in 2024, it seems clear they need to make a splash before the July 30 MLB trade deadline to make the most of a big opportunity this season has presented the American League West leaders.

Rost: The two things about first-place Mariners’ season that are baffling

The name that has seemed to fit that bill the most is Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, but that was before New York reeled off an 11-2 stretch to get back to .500 and into the thick of the wild card picture in the National League.

“As much as I would love Pete Alonso as a fit for the Mariners,” MLB Network insider Jon Morosi said, “I don’t see (the Mets) trading him as long as they continue on this trajectory.”

Alright, so we’re taking Alonso off the table for now. Then which players are on slumping teams that would fit a similar “big game hunting” label for the Mariners’ lineup? Morosi identified a couple Thursday during his weekly conversation with Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob, and they’re pretty interesting targets indeed.

Could Seattle know Bo?

First up, the Toronto Blue Jays. The most prevalent name from the current American League East cellar-dwellars to come up in trade rumors for the Mariners is first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but it’s another second-generation star who might make more sense in Seattle: shortstop Bo Bichette.

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

“There has been certainly some rumblings about both Vlad Jr. and Bo Bichette,” Morosi said. “I do think Bo, he’s at a lower point in terms of his value. He has not had a very good year, he has had some injuries this season. The clubhouse there in Toronto seems to be a little discordant from what I can tell. So I do think now is the time to jump in and make a move for Bo Bichette.”

The 26-year-old Bichette led the league in hits in both 2021 and 2023, and he’s a two-time All-Star. Entering Friday, though, he owns a uncharacteristic .233/.289/.335 slash for a .618 OPS with just four homers in 68 games. But away from that potentially “discordant” Blue Jays clubhouse, there’s the chance he could bounce back to a kind of player the M’s could certainly use.

“I would argue that what Bo gives you, it’s a little bit more of maybe what you need than what what Vlad would present,” Morosi said. “I think that at his purest, Bo is a great bat-to-ball guy, and there are other first basemen there (the Mariners could target instead of Guerrero).”

When it comes to Bichette’s contract, he’s under team control through next season and due a fairly modest $17.5 million in 2026, which could be just attractive enough for a Mariners front office that has avoided high-priced rentals at the trade deadline.

Time to Belly up?

Now let’s visit the NL Central, where there’s another surprising team at the bottom of the standings. The Chicago Cubs are 38-44, taking a big tumble ever since opening the year at 21-14.

With the Cubs, Morosi sees a team that may need to reshuffle the deck, and that could be a good fit with the Mariners considering Seattle’s farm system is rich with young hitters ranked on the top 100 prospect lists by MLB.com and Baseball America.

“(The Cubs are) the one team that I would pay very close attention to right now – and it’s not entirely clear to me what they would actually do because I think their roster is so ill-fitting at the moment,” he said.

Nico Hoerner, a 27-year-old infielder who won the NL Gold Glove last year at shortstop, is a name that Morosi brought up, but perhaps even more interesting is a former MVP on the Cubs roster: outfielder Cody Bellinger.

Now that’s a hitter who would move the needle.

Bellinger had a huge bounceback season with Chicago in 2023, winning a Silver Slugger for hitting 26 homers and posting an .881 OPS following three rough seasons with the Dodgers. He’s been good again this year with a .271/.331/.428 slash (.759 OPS) with nine homers in 68 games. And if the Cubs need to reset, it would make sense to offload his contract, which has a $30 million salary for next year and $20 million salary for 2026 if Bellinger doesn’t enact an opt-out clause either of the next two offseasons.

“When you’re a team with a pretty big payroll that’s underperforming the way the Cubs are, you need to be open-minded to anything,” Morosi said. “And so I think the Cubs and the Mariners are a better trade fit than you would have thought maybe a couple of months ago.”

Listen to the full Wyman and Bob conversation with MLB Network’s Jon Morosi in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

More Seattle Mariners trade deadline coverage

Lefko: Julio’s struggles magnify Mariners’ need to add impact bat
3 Takes: Big questions about Seattle Mariners at the halfway mark
There’s a factor working against Mariners’ trade needs
Tampa Bay Rays who could fit M’s trade needs
Seattle Mariners Trade Targets: Three Marlins to keep an eye on

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