Summing up my feelings about the Mariners’ deadline performance
My reaction to what the Mariners accomplished by the MLB trade deadline can be summed up in one word.
There are several reasons I feel this way. First, I didn’t react emotionally after learning the Mariners traded highly sought-after closer Paul Sewald to the Diamondbacks. Don’t get me wrong. I hated to see Sewald go. He’s been such a good guy in the local community.
Still, the Mariners front office did what it thought it had to do to improve the team’s outlook. In this case, it meant selling high on a reliever with a year of club control remaining.
Realistically, Sewald will never be more valuable than he is right now. Trading him in-season hurts the heart, yet it made sense. Some fans won’t agree with my line of thinking, which is fine. But deals like this are part of the business of baseball.
Having said that, another part of my brain recognizes dealing Sewald and fellow veteran reliever Trevor Gott over the last month could cause problems for the Mariners. Their departure pressurizes a bullpen that’s become increasingly dependent on younger, less-experienced arms as the season has unfolded.
Gone are thirty-somethings Sewald and Gott, plus 29-year-old Penn Murfee is out for the season with an injury. In their place, we’ve seen rookies Juan Then (23), Prelander Berroa (23), Isaiah Campbell (25), and Ty Adcock (26) thrust into big spots. Perhaps before some were ready.
Even before the Sewald trade, navigating the final six outs of a game proved challenging for manager Scott Servais. Everything seemingly depended on the availability of Sewald and Andrés Muñoz. Now, half of that equation is a Diamondback with no clear-cut replacement identified.
After all, the Mariners have proven capable of developing unheralded pitchers into high-leverage relievers. Perhaps recently acquired relievers Trent Thornton, Zach Muckenhirn, Eduard Bazardo, or one of the youngsters just mentioned elevates their game with the help of the organization.
Perhaps Canzone becomes the next Mitch Haniger. An overlooked Arizona prospect plucked away by the Mariners, who goes on to thrive once given regular playing time. That sounds fun and promising.
On the other hand, Canzone is a shiny new rookie. Perhaps he’ll hit the ground running with his new club. I’m rooting for him to do so. But, as we’ve seen with top prospects Julio Rodríguez and Jarred Kelenic, development isn’t linear.
Rojas is enduring a down year after being an above-average offensive performer in 2021-22. An optimist might point out the 29-year-old’s substandard numbers are better than what Seattle received from Opening Day second baseman Kolten Wong. But is that really an acceptable selling point?
As for Bliss, he’s a prospect. We know Arizona’s second round pick in 2021 appeared in this year’s Future’s Game and earned a promotion to AAA last month. With 35 stolen bases this season, the 23-year-old’s speed is indisputable. To what degree his bat develops is a story yet to be told.
Then there are the whiffs from last winter.
In recent days, the Mariners parted ways with two disappointing offseason acquisitions. Wong was designated for assignment, while outfielder AJ Pollock was dealt to the Giants for a player to be named later.
The inability of Wong and Pollock to repeat what they did for other teams last year is a not-so-subtle reminder of how poorly Seattle’s offseason acquisition strategy played out.
All told, five position players picked up over the winter were on the Opening Day roster - Wong, Pollock, Teoscar Hernández, Cooper Hummel, and Tommy La Stella. Only Hernández has lasted into August with the Mariners. That’s a 20-percent success rate, which seems suboptimal.
Having said that, the failures of the past can be overcome if the lineup’s core lives up to expectations. Perhaps July represents a turn in the right direction.
The team has also benefited from the dynamic debut of rookie Cade Marlowe, plus its supporting cast - Tom Murphy, Dylan Moore, and Mike Ford. And let’s not overlook the contributions J.P. Crawford, Seattle’s most reliable hitter this year.
All things considered, I’ll probably have a stronger opinion regarding the Mariners’ deadline performance in about a month or so. By then, we should know whether the recent uptick in production by the lineup is for real. If it is, optimism regarding making the postseason should still exist.
Otherwise, we may be talking about how the Mariners can avoid repeating the mistakes of last offseason.
My Oh My…
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