BROCK AND SALK

Passan: With prospect wealth, Mariners should be bold

Jul 2, 2024, 12:00 PM | Updated: 12:24 pm

Seattle Mariners Scott Servais Jonatan Clase 2024...

Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais high-fives Jonatan Clase during an April 17 games against the Reds. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

With their division lead steadily shrinking and their offense continuing to struggle, there’s an ever-growing intrigue as to how the Seattle Mariners will approach the upcoming July 30 MLB trade deadline.

Two Mariners prospects named to All-Star Futures Game

The Mariners are in desperate need of offensive help to bolster their sputtering lineup, which ranks near the bottom of the majors in nearly every key statistical category. That need has only been accentuated over the past two weeks, as Seattle went from being the hottest team in baseball to losing eight of its past 11 games. During that span, the hard-charging Houston Astros have cut the Mariners’ 10-game lead atop the American League West to just three games.

The good news is that Seattle has a deep pool of talented position-player prospects to deal. The Mariners currently have five of the top 50 prospects in Baseball America’s Top 100: shortstop Colt Emerson at No. 15, shortstop Cole Young at No. 37, catcher Harry Ford at No. 47, and outfielder Lazaro Montes at No. 49. They also have highly regarded outfield prospect Jonny Farmelo and potential five-tool shortstop Felnin Celesten, who ranks No. 92 in MLB.com’s prospect rankings.

During his appearance Tuesday on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk, ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan said the Mariners’ wealth of position-player prospects should only encourage them to be more aggressive at the deadline.

“It’s the beauty of the position that the Mariners are in right now,” Passan said. “They could trade a dude – like a capital-D dude – and (still) have a bunch more in the organization. And it’s why I think the Mariners not only are going to be aggressive, but absolutely need to be aggressive at this point, because when you look at the state of affairs right now, I’ve gotta be honest, it ain’t great.”

‘You need to take advantage of this window’

Seattle’s sputtering offense ranks rank 27th in runs per game (3.86), dead-last in batting average (.218), 25th in on-base percentage (.298), 26th in slugging percentage (.365) and 26th in OPS (.663). The Mariners also have the highest strikeout rate in the majors at 27.9%, which is 1.5% higher than the next-closest team.

“It’s just a bad offense,” Passan said. “It’s objectively bad. There’s no sugarcoating this. … We’re getting to the point where by the end of this week, by the time we talk next week, the Mariners might not be in first place anymore. The Mariners might not be in a playoff position anymore, because if they were to lose first place right now, they have the same record as the third-place wild card team.”

The Mariners’ offensive struggles contrast sharply with their elite starting rotation, which leads the majors in WHIP (1.03) and ranks third in ERA (3.43). Earlier this season, Seattle’s rotation strung together a historic run of 21 consecutive starts with two earned runs allowed or fewer. It was tied for the second-longest such streak in MLB history and the longest since the 1915 Washington Senators.

“You need to take advantage of this window that you have right now with pitching,” Passan said. “… I think that it is necessary to try and win right now. And they are so deep in the minors leagues with hitters that I’m not sure it’s going to get in the way of their success in the future if they do make a little run at it now.”

Passan added that the Mariners’ recent track record of finding and developing position player prospects might make it easier for the organization to trade away a few of them.

“The Mariners have illustrated they have a pretty distinct skill at finding and developing young position players,” Passan said. “And so maybe they’re not going to be quite as (attached) to the best of those prospects as they would’ve been in the past, because the draft and international free agency every year allows you the opportunity to replenish it. That should compel you to be a little more aggressive at the trade deadline.

“The Mariners have a historically good starting rotation and a bad offense,” he added. “And if that bad offense can even turn to average, there’s a chance that something really special could happen in October.”

Listen to the full conversation with Jeff Passan 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.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Mariners PxP Goldsmith: ‘How do you get Julio free again?’
• Mariners Breakdown: Storylines after fourth straight series loss
• Mariners pitcher Luis Castillo takes rare at-bat
• MLB insider Jon Morosi reports on Mariners’ trade pursuits
• Seattle Mariners reliever Gregory Santos to begin rehab assignment

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