Mariners Make Moves on Thursday

Jerry Dipoto and the Seattle Mariners haven’t done much this week at the Winter Meetings. On Wednesday he had a cold so he let his management team do the job. The Mariners did make a few minor moves but certainly nothing like he did before meetings. I don’t think many expected to make a big splash. I am sure he talked to a few teams about trades and free agents as well. The Mariners won’t sign any high priced free agents however with Dipoto he could make a surprise move.

Dipoto is interested in Japanese free agent pitcher Yusei Kikuchi. This would be something to sign him with needing another starting pitcher plus the fact the Mariners will start the season against the Oakland A’s in March 2019 in Japan. Signing Kikuchi would make things big back home for him too. Of course, there are other teams interested in him as well.

An interesting move at the beginning of the winter meetings was the Mariners picking up Kaleb Cowart off of waivers from the Los Angeles Angels. Jerry Dipoto said the Mariners would make him into a two-way player. In his pro career, he has played primarily played the infield. When he was drafted by the Angels in 2010 they talked about making him into a pitcher but he wanted to play every day. He isn’t a good hitter batting below .200 in his career but plays good defense and his fastball does reach the mid 90’s. So if he makes the Mariner could see him do both.

During this writing, Jerry Dipoto made a trade with the Cleveland Indians sending Carlos Santana who they had acquired in the trade with the Phillies for Jean Segura. The Mariners acquire designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and a competitive balance Round B pick in 2019 which is the 77th overall pick. The Mariners could move Encarnacion along as well. Dipoto made this trade while being in the hospital. He is expected to be released Thursday and head home to Seattle. 

In the Rule 5 draft, the Mariners took righthanded pitcher Brandon Brennan from the Colorado Rockies organization. Last year he pitched for double-A Birmingham and triple-A Charlotte of the Chicago White Sox organization. Recently the Rockies had signed him to a minor league contract.

Stay tuned to what Dipoto and the Mariners will do further. 


Major League Winter Meeting Begin on Monday

Jerry Dipoto and his staff will be in Las Vegas, Nevada for major league baseball winter meetings beginning on Monday. 

The Mariners are not expected to make any big splash in regards to trades like they have recently in the trades of  Mike Zunino, Guillermo Heredia, James Paxton, Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, Alex Colome, Jean Segura, Juan Nicasio, and James Pazos.

The Mariners 40-man roster certainly looks different than the one I looked at over a month ago. Outside of Paxton the starting rotation right now looks like Marco Gonzales, Mike Leake, Wade LeBlanc and Felix Hernandez. The fifth starter could be  Justus Sheffield and or Erik Swanson they picked up in the Paxton trade. Sheffield and Swanson could both start in Tacoma at triple-A however likely be the rotation by the all-star break.

Jerry Dipoto will look add to the bullpen with the departures of Colome, Diaz, Nicasio and James Pazos. Only Dan Altavilla and Chasen Bradford pitched in more than 20 games out of the bullpen for the Mariners last season. Most of Altavilla’s relief pitching happened early on in the season having to go on the disabled list because of an injury to his right elbow. Bradford had early success with the Mariners however with so much work of those in the bullpen he spent some time in Tacoma as well.

With the departure of James Pazos the Mariners only have one left handed reliever in the bullpen in Roinas Elias. He has been used primarily in long relief though I am sure he could get in some action as a left handed specialist however Dipoto will look for someone who has experience in that area. Dipoto would have looked for a left handed specialist anyway because the Mariners poor performances in that area last season and needed to upgrade anyway.

The Mariners will have to look to see if they can find a closer on the market. I am sure there are fans who think the Mariners will be so bad they don’t really need a closer. Right now the only three real possible closers on the 40-man roster right now to close would be Dan Altavilla because he throws the ball hard, Matt Festa throws hard as well and was the closer in double A most of last season. 

The third member of the group would be Shawn Armstrong who closed for the Tacoma Rainier’s most of last season. Armstrong had success in September when promoted after the triple A season. He primarily came out as the first reliever out of the bullpen. In 14 games he had a record of 0-1 with an era of 1.23 with 15 strike outs and one save. 

Altavilla, Festa, and Armstrong would all be best served as setup men in the bullpen though they could each try their hand at it if Dipoto isn’t able to get a closer. However, with Dipoto I am sure he will find someone.

Other candidates the Mariners will have at this time in the setup roles as righthanders  include Anthony Swarzak the veteran pitcher they picked up in the Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz trade from the New York Mets. He missed most of last season with a sore oblique though he did find a way to pitch in 29 games His time on the mound wasn’t great since he had an era of 6.15. He had four saves so the Mariners could use him to in the role of closer if they don’t find a way to move him on.

The Mariners have only Sam Tuivailala for the bullpen with really much major league experience besides the ones already mentioned. The Mariners picked him at the end of July before the trading deadline from the St. Louis Cardinals. However, he was injured in a run down in early August and missed the rest of the season. He may not be ready to go at the beginning of the season though.

Besides adding pitching the Mariners will likely go out and find another catcher to add to the roster. They have only two on the 40-man roster with David Freitas who was the backup catcher to Mike Zunino for much of the season and Omar Narvaez they picked up in the trade for Alex Colome from the Chicago White Sox.

Narvaez is expected to be the Mariners starting catcher. He isn’t the defensive catcher Zunino is and doesn’t have nearly the power in the bat either. He does hit for a better average along with on base percentage. Narvaez bats left handed so likely the Mariners will go out and pick up a right handed hitting catcher or go with Freitas who bats right handed as well. So likely Freitas or whomever they pick up will catch once or twice a week and start against a tough left handed starter. 

Narvaez batted .275 with an on-base percentage of .366. Although he doesn’t have a lot of home run power he did have nine home runs along with 14 doubles. He walked 38 times and struck out 65 times in 98 games. 

When it comes to the regular every day lineup the Mariners may not make any more moves unless they want to lower more payroll by trading Jay Bruce who they picked up in the Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz trade or Carlos Santana in the Jean Segura trade. Also they could trade second baseman Dee Gordon or third baseman Kyle Seager. Those two most likely wouldn’t happen unless someone offers something real good.

The Mariners may have to go out and pick up a second baseman or shortstop if J.P. Crawford isn’t ready to play everyday at shortstop they picked him up in the Jean Segura trade. Dee Gordon could move over to short if a second baseman is picked up instead of a shortstop. 

The Mariners could look to pick up a veteran utility player who primarily play shortstop. Near the end of last season they picked up Kristopher Negron from the Arizona Diamondbacks who played most of last season in triple A. The Mariners were impressed by him however he doesn’t have much major league experience so likely would only play sparingly. 

So this coming week will be interesting to see so is added onto the roster. The Mariners right now have 35 players on the 40-man roster so five players can be added without any additional changes needed. This would be for any free agent signees whether for the starting rotation, bullpen, catcher, infield or outfield.  Go M’s . 

Mariners Deal Cano and Diaz

How many are surprised that Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz are being traded to the New York Mets.  I know I certainly am. I am sure Jerry Dipoto tried with the Yankees first but they decided they didn’t want him back for the price it would likely cost them.

I am sure Cano packed his bags for his contract for veteran players while Diaz went for the prospects. At this point I am sure without Paxton, Zunino and Cano moving Diaz made sense as well.

We will have to see whether the Mariners will make some other trades as well. There is talk about Jean Segura going to the Philadelphia Phillies after the trade to the San Diego Padres didn’t work out which I am glad for because it wasn’t a very good trade for sure.

I heard a national writer say sending Diaz to the Atlanta Braves would have been the best deal however they decided not to give up their top prospects. 
For  the short term this likely hurt the Mariners but help them for long term. Dipoto decided the team needed changes to compete with the Astros and A’s for several years instead of adding bandages to the situation. 
Jay Bruce acquired in the trade will likely be the dh and on occasion play in the outfield unless Dipoto decides to trade him elsewhere.

Right now the starting line up is Ryon Healy at first base, Dee Gordon at second base, Jean Segura at shortstop, Kyle Seager at third base, Ben Gamel in left, Mallex in center, Mitch Haniger in right field, newly acquired Omar Narvaez at catcher and Bruce at dh. 

We will look at the pitching staff coming up later. 

Big Maple to the Big Apple

Paxton Goes to New York

Ever since Mike Zunino was traded we heard stories that James Paxton likely would be the next one of the Seattle Mariners to be traded and it happened on Monday when they traded him to the Yankees.
There were reports the Mariners might be traded Paxton to the Dodgers or the Astros however it came down to the Yankees having the best offer. According to general manager Jerry Dipoto he talked to 2/3 of the teams in the major leagues about Paxton. He wanted to get the highest maximum trade for Paxton so it looks this was the best deal Dipoto could get. I am sure there were other teams he spoke to that may have had players better than the one they received back from the Yankees but they were not willing to do so.
Paxton was eligible for arbitration and the words around the league he was probably going to cost the Mariners $9 million to retain him for one season. It wasn’t the only reason to trade him but a good one anyway. Dipoto feels the Mariners ended up in the upper end of the major leagues but to compete for the playoffs and make the World Series he had to make changes. This is true just within their own division. The Mariners finished third in 2018 in the American League West behind the Houston Astros who won 103 and the Oakland A’s 97. Although the Mariners had a good season overall with 89 wins they were three games below five hundred after the all-star game with a record of 31-34. Before the all-star break they had a record of 58-39. During the first half period they scored two less runs than they gave up. They played in a lot of one run games with a record of 36-21 in those games. The Mariners could have lost some of those they won if it weren’t for closer Edwin Diaz.
Speaking of Diaz there are those who feel the Mariners should trade Diaz as well since they don’t think the Mariners no longer need a closer. I don’t agree with those thoughts at all. Although the Mariners may not look like a better team going into next season I don’t give up hope they will win more games than they lose. It doesn’t mean I think they will 89 games this coming season but they could win 84 or 85 games. Although Paxton was considered the ace of the Mariners he only won 11 games last season for them and his highest total was 12 in 2017. Marco Gonzales had more wins than Paxton with 13. Of course Paxton has the capability to win more games like 16 to 18 games but has never been able to pitch in 32 games which he would have been able to do so if he didn’t get hurt for a short period of time over his years with the Mariners. Of course I would like to keep Paxton around but it doesn’t mean we could get more out of other pitchers.
The Mariners picked up two pitchers and an outfielder for Paxton without giving up another player as well. In the Zunino trade they sent Guillermo Heredia packing as well. This seems better to me far as value goes thought the Mariners did get two outfielders for Zunino and Heredia. The Mariners received Mallex Smith now the Mariners starting center fielder along with minor league outfielder Jake Fraley  who was a 2nd round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Rays
Back to the Yankee trade the Mariners picked up the Yankees number one prospect in left handed pitcher Justus Sheffield along with right handed pitcher Erik Swanson considered the Yankees #22 prospect however could be ready sometime during the 2019. I am sure they will be given every chance to make the rotation during spring training.  I could see a rotation of Marco Gonzales. Mike Leake, Wade Leblanc , Felix Hernandez? and  Sheffield.
Sheffield pitched in 20 games for the Yankees AAA team after starting the season with five games at double A. At triple A he had a record of 6-4 with an era of 2.56 throwing 88 innings. He had 36 walks which is a bit higher than we would like however did strike out 84 batters. At age 22 I am sure this would not be very unexpected and he does have a good upside.
Eric Swanson started the season at double A as well in the Yankee organization last season where he pitched in eight games before being promoted to triple A where he pitched in 14 games. He had an era of 3.86 with 14 walks and 78 strike outs in 72. So he had a better control than Sheffield though a higher era however he is three years older as well at 25. I am sure he won’t be the pitcher Sheffield will be however he could still be valuable to the Mariners.
The third player the Mariners received in the trade is Dom Thompson-Williams a 23 year old outfielder the Yankees drafted in the fifth-round in 2016. He spent most of the season in high single A Tampa for the Yankees where he batted .290 with 17 home runs and 65 runs batted in. I am sure we won’t see him in Seattle for at least three years if at all at least they have another outfielder with potential. He is listed right now as the Mariners #14 prospect.
Next will be see who will go next and who will come next as well. I wonder what catcher they are eyeing?

Zunino and Heredia Traded to Rays

Reports are out for the Mariners first move during hot stove Mike Zunino and Guillermo Heredia will be traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Mallex Smith. Each team will exchange minor league players as well.

This all reported after Zunino received the Wilson Award as the best defensive catcher in baseball. Jerry Dipoto is willing to make any trades he feels should improve the Mariners. Though he is a top notch receiver he hasn’t been able to do the same at the plate. He has been able to hit at least 20 home runs a season but his batting average has been around the .200 mark. In 2017 he did have a period where he hit well and batted in the .250 mark. If he was able to hit around that mark or somewhere between .200 and .250 like say .230 he would still be a Mariner.

Guillermo Heredia the Mariners felt was disposal as well since he hit .238 over the last season though he was close to .300 early on in the season. He showed he was really made to be a part-time player though he was among the best defensively especially in left field. If he would have stayed with the Mariners he would have platooned in left field with Ben Gamel and on occasion in center field.

Mallex Smith who is expected to be the center fielder for the Mariners had a good rookie season with the Rays. He previous had been with the Mariners for a short period like 77 minutes when they acquired Drew Smyly a couple years ago. The Mariners had picked him up from the Atlanta Braves before him along. He had a .296 batting average this last season with the Rays with a .367 on-base percentage. Also he stole 40 bases as well. He could be what the Mariners were hoping for Dee Gordon in center field well as the lead-off hitter since he is able to walk. If he is the lead-off hitter for the Mariners they may move Mitch Haniger to clean up in place of Nelson Cruz. We are not sure at this time whether the Mariners will have Cruz return.  This move will show Dee Gordon will be back at second base if they don’t trade him away. This is the case Robinson Cano will be at first base along with spending time at dh. Another question does it mean the Mariners will trade Ryon Healy. There was talk Kansas City was interested in Healy. If Healy does return with the Mariners he could spend time at first base and dh as well.  The question to is where does this leave Daniel Vogelbach. Will he be the dh against right handed pitching or he be traded as well.

Right now the Mariners will have one catcher in David Freitas so they will need to pick up another catcher. The question to will they sign a catcher in free agency or pick one up in a trade. Right now they don’t have anyone else ready in the minor leagues. They could pick up a catcher that shares the spot with Freitas as well. In this case I would like to see them get a left handed hitting catch. They did have one in Chris Herrmann before releasing him. So the questions do continue for the Mariners and they could be answered real soon.

Mariner’s Sign Pitching Coach and More

This week the Mariner’s sign Paul Davis as pitching coach. He had been working with the St. Louis farm system with the pitchers for the past five years so Marco Gonzales is familiar with him. He is known for his knowledge of analytics which is what Jerry Dipoto and Scott Servais were looking for.  Now we have to see who they make as hitting coach in place of Edgar Martinez who will continue with the organization except in another capacity. He will spend time with the major league hitters when the Mariners at home and will work with hitters throughout the organization on an individual basis. This will allow him to spend time with his wife and children.

There were reports that the Mariners would retool the organization and the only players not up for trade talks would be Mitch Haniger, Edwin Diaz and Marco Gonzales. In a manner of speaking it is true but they won’t do a total makeover. Dipoto will look at trade request from other teams about the Mariner players but not necessarily trade as many as possible.

There is likelihood the Mariners won’t be able to trade Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano because of their contracts. The Mariners could release Felix though they would have to pay off his last year of contract that stands around $27 million. No one likely take Cano’s contract either.

Hard to know whether anyone would take Kyle Seager after the down season he just had unless the Mariners pay partial of his salary. Another high salary guy is pitcher Mike Leake. Not sure what the Mariners could get for him either except some prospects but they probably wouldn’t be high enough to warrant trading him.

Shortstop Jean Segura has a no-trade clause in his contract so likely won’t be traded unless he accepts a trade. Not really sure what the Mariners could get for him for the right value. Mike Zunino may be the right guy to trade at this time but what they could get for him is in question as well. The Mariners don’t have anyone else can catch on a regular basis unless they can acquire another catcher in return or sign a free agent. James Paxton could have the highest return where they could get a couple major league ready players and a prospect like they did when they traded TaiJuan Walker to Arizona for Segura and Haniger.  It will be interesting to see what Dipoto can pull off.

The Mariners will need to sign or trade for an outfielder especially one can play in center field. This could allow Dee Gordon be at second base pretty much full-time with a possible occasional time in center field. The Mariners then would have to use Robinson Cano at first base and dh. The question is still whether they plan to bring back Nelson Cruz or not.

Currently Dipoto is at the general manager meeting this week so a trade could happen anytime and again later this month or in December. I don’t expect he will wait until January to make any trades unless they are minor ones.  Interesting on the hot stove league; we hope answers will happen soon.

Post World Series Mariners Make Moves

This week the Mariners made some moves probably the most surprising Edgar Martinez is no longer going to be the Mariners hitting coach. Instead going to be in an advisory position where he will be with the team during the home games along working with individual players. He will be with the Mariners during spring training as well. Two players I see him working with until they get straighten out is catcher Mike Zunino and third baseman Kyle Seager. It will be interesting to see who the Mariners will name as the everyday hitting coach. I know there are fans who think negative a lot of the time so they believe Edgar was fired and moved into another position. I take Edgar’s word he wanted to spend more time with his wife and two daughters instead of going on the road with the team. The hitting coach spends a lot of time at the field with the players before and sometimes after the game. Edgar is known for looking at a lot of film as well. I wouldn’t be surprise he will be watching games on television while the team is on the road then sending emails giving his advice how to hit against the opposition pitchers.
Another move the Mariners decided not to take Denard Span on his option instead released him paying him $4 million instead of $12 million which would have been his salary if they had accepted it. So now Span is a free agent. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes back to the Tampa Bay Rays which is his home team. No team has interested in him he could sign with the Mariners at a lower rate. Right now it means Ben Gamel and Guillermo Heredia platooning in left field. Not sure what they have planned for Dee Gordon whether playing in center field or back at second base. I am sure now we are here in November we will know sooner than later. Dipoto could be looking at making a trade for an outfielder. The Mariners made a few minor moves as well. Nothing that will impact the team at this time.