Seattle Mariners make all the trades

Updated: January 11, 2017

Last week the Seattle Mariners traded outfielder Seth Smith to the Orioles and then seemingly moments later traded pitcher Nate Karns to the Orioles for outfielder Jarrod Dyson. While these two moves were relatively minor and maybe not quite worthy of a write-up in the way that, say, the Chris Sale trade was; they were still pretty interesting trades that improved the team and improved their outlook.

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Today, the Mariners did it again. They traded prospects Luiz Gohara and Thomas Burrows to the Braves for outfielder Mallex Smith and reliever Shae Simmons. They then took Smith and traded him along with Carlos Vargas and Ryan Yarbrough to the Rays for starting pitcher Drew Smyly. So, essentially they did this:

Nate Karns
Seth Smith
Luiz Gohara
Thomas Burrows
Carlos Vargas
Ryan Yarbrough
Jarrod Dyson
Yovani Gallardo
Drew Smyly
Shae Simmons

This, on top of the Jean Segura trade from earlier this offseason, has made the Mariners into an 84-win team according to Fangraphs Projected Standings. This makes them the fourth best team in the American League according to the projections which puts them right in the thick of the Wild Card race in the American League.

The rotation definitely feels like an upgrade as the team seemed to sour on Karns in the second half last season and Tajuan Walker was very inconsistent. Smyly should bring more consistency with modest upside while Gallardo is a good bounceback candidate and innings eater. As a fourth starter, I was worried about Seattle. As their fifth, it seems like a perfect fit.

Of course, the pitchers will be bailed out in a big way this season by the vastly improved outfield defense. Last season it was Leonys Martin and a bunch of aging bat first outfielders like Smith and Franklin Gutierrez. In 2017 they will basically have five outfielders on the roster who can play center field in Mitch Haniger, Martin, Guillermo Heredia, Ben Gamel and Dyson. They should be vastly improved and that should show up in the pitcher’s ERAs.

If the pitching staff holds up, Segura shows that last season wasn’t a fluke, Haniger lives up to his minors pedigree and the Robinson Cano/Nelson Cruz/Kyle Seager core stays heathy, this team could challenge the Astros for the AL West crown. Even if all those things don’t happen, they should be in the Wild Card hunt. Mariners fans should be excited right now.

This is something like the 10th or 11th trade that Mariners general manager Jerry DiPoto has made this offseason and I just want to say that I love it. With so many front offices hiring the same type of guys, you are seeing the same type team building throughout the league so it’s nice to have someone who chooses to build his team in a different way. Free agency is a dangerous game to play and I truly admire Jerry DiPoto for not playing it. While he might someday regret trading Gohara or some other prospect, that’s okay because this team is ready to contend right now and he’s doing what he can with what he has to make that happen. I’m loving it.

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