Top 14 Prospects: Seattle Mariners

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the Seattle Mariners farm system. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

Mariners Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Kyle Lewis 22 A+ OF 2020 45
2 Sam Carlson 19 R RHP 2022 45
3 Evan White 21 A- 1B 2020 45
4 Julio Rodriguez 17 R RF 2023 40
5 Braden Bishop 24 AA CF 2019 40
6 Max Povse 24 MLB RHP 2018 40
7 Nick Rumbelow 26 MLB RHP 2018 40
8 Matt Festa 24 A+ RHP 2018 40
9 Art Warren 24 A+ RHP 2018 40
10 Wyatt Mills 23 A RHP 2020 40
11 Luis Liberato 22 AA OF 2020 40
12 Mike Ford 25 AAA 1B 2018 40
13 Dan Vogelbach 25 MLB 1B 2018 40
14 Joe Rizzo 19 A+ 3B 2020 40

45 FV Prospects

1. Kyle Lewis, OF
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Mercer
Age 21 Height 6’4 Weight 210 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 55/60 40/55 45/40 45/50 60/60

Lewis’s pro career just cannot get off the ground. After signing in 2016, he was sent to short-season Everett — a pretty cushy assignment for a top college draftee, but not unusual for a small-school prospect — where he played for a month before tearing his right ACL in late July. When Lewis got back into games during extended spring training in Arizona the next year, he didn’t look ready. His bat speed was intact, but he was noticeably hobbled in a way that scouts thought impacted him on both sides of the ball. They suspected he was rushing back too quickly.

Lewis was sent to High-A Modesto in June and was there for just two games before shutting things down (because of the knee) and heading back to Arizona. After two weeks, Lewis was back in AZL games. Again, he played two before shutting things down for another 10 days. He rejoined Modesto in August, where he played pretty regularly through the end of the year as a DH. He was assigned to the Arizona Fall League after the season, but again, his knee flared up and he was shelved for the year after just two AFL games.

Obviously it’s important that Lewis’s knee remains healthy in 2018. If it doesn’t, then this issue will start to be seen as a chronic, stock-altering aspect of his profile. For some evaluators it already is. Because Lewis hasn’t been able to stay on the field for any real sustained length of time and his performance has been impacted by injury when he has, his amateur reports continue to carry a lot of weight. He has plus bat speed, but there’s concern about swing and miss because of the length in Lewis’ swing and because he faced small-conference competition in college. He was generally considered a candidate to move to a corner-outfield spot even before the knee injury. Now that seems even more likely.

That will put more pressure on Lewis’s bat. Of course, nobody is questioning his potential to clear that kind of offensive bar. The combination of Lewis’s bat speed and the natural loft in his swing create significant power potential, and scouts who saw Lewis in the Cal League last year think he showed good feel to hit for someone who had barely played for the last year. He remains a potential middle-of-the-order hitter but is riskier than he was a year ago because of the knee issue.

2. Sam Carlson, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Burnsville HS (MN)
Age 18 Height 6’4 Weight 195 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
55/60 45/50 50/60 40/55

Carlson was shut down with a minor flexor strain after three AZL innings (during which he sat 92-95), so we’re still most heavily weighing his amateur reports. Those are very good. Carlson was sitting 89-92 the summer before his senior year but had prototypical size and athleticism — plus surprisingly advanced secondary pitches and command for a pitcher his size from a cold-weather state. His velocity spiked the following spring when Carlson was touching 96.

He fell to Seattle’s second-round pick but signed for first-round money, a $2 million bonus. You can get pretty crazy projecting on Carlson’s command and secondary stuff because of his athleticism. He has a good chance to develop two impact secondary pitches and plus command, which gives him pretty substantial upside if the uptick in fastball velo sticks and Carlson shows he’s healthy next year.

3. Evan White, 1B
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Kentucky
Age 21 Height 6’3 Weight 205 Bat/Throw R/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 45/50 30/45 60/55 55/70 55/55

White was perhaps the 2017 draft’s most unique player. He’s a “backwards guy” — the baseball term for the rare player who hits righty but throws lefty — and a plus runner who is probably capable of playing center field if given the chance. Some scouts think White, who lacks huge raw power, needs to be trotted out in center field to profile as an everyday player because he doesn’t have prototypical first-base thump. Others think he’s a plus-plus defensive first baseman and can’t imagine moving him, even if he is a 40 or 45 game-power hitter.

Though skinny, White is a broad-shouldered 6-foot-3 and has big forearms. He tracks pitches expertly and has great bat control. He turns on balls in, pokes ball on the outer half back up the middle and profiles as a plus hitter. Even without huge power, White projects as a productive hitter whose high rates of contact should enable him to play every day when coupled with his defense.

40 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic
Age 17 Height 6’3 Weight 205 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 50/60 20/55 45/40 40/50 55/60

Rodriguez ranked fourth overall on last summer’s July 2 board. He has most of what you’re looking for in a power-hitting teenage outfield prospect. First, he has promising hitter’s traits. He’s loose, fluid about the hips and torso, has quick hands, has shown some bat control in games, and his swing has natural loft. Though he’s a bit more physically mature than is typical for a prospect this age, Rodriguez’s broad-shouldered, 6-foot-3 frame still has room for added mass as he ages, and that should continue to add to Rodriguez’s already considerable raw power.

Rodriguez’s size creates some swing length. Otherwise, though, Rodriguez looks like he has a great chance to make contact and hit for power, which would enable him to profile in right field. He’s probably too physically advanced for the DSL to offer any meaningful competition this summer, so look for him to come right to the AZL. Obviously, Rodriguez’s age makes him a volatile prospect and his range of potential pro outcomes is endlessly wide, but he has very promising early traits.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2015 from Washington
Age 23 Height 6’1 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 40/40 20/30 70/70 60/70 55/55

Bishop lowered the position at which his hands set up in 2017, increasing the plane of his swing and his in-game, extra-base power. Bishop recorded 26 extra-base hits in each of his first two pro seasons combined. In 2017 alone, he hit 41, though many of those were tallied in the Cal League, a league for which Bishop was a bit old.

The changes are meaningful and give Bishop a better chance of playing some kind of everyday role for the Mariners. He’s a plus-plus runner and potential plus-plus defensive center fielder, so the offensive bar Bishop needs to clear to play every day is relatively low, in theory. Bishop’s peripherals are strong and there are plenty of current big leaguers who have established themselves as everyday players with relatively low-impact offensive output, like Kevin Pillar (to whom three different sources comp’d Bishop).

Scouts who saw Bishop’s Arizona Fall League performance admire his on-field makeup and effort level, which remained high throughout the fall even while he was mostly squeezed out of Peoria’s starting-outfield picture by Ronald Acuna and Eric Filia. His ceiling is relatively low because it’s unlikely that Bishop ever do a ton of damage on offense, but he’s a high-probability second-division regular or luxury fourth outfielder.

6. Max Povse, RHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2014 from UNC Greensboro
Age 23 Height 6’8 Weight 185 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
50/50 45/45 55/55 50/55

Seattle subjected Povse to a failed multi-inning relief experiment last year, and he’s expected to make a return to starting in 2018. He averaged just over 94 mph on his fastball out of the bullpen with an extra tick of perceived velocity because of extension created by Povse’s 6-foot-8 frame, but as a starter in the Arizona Fall League following the season, Povse was 88-92 and up to 94. He has an above-average changeup that fades down and to his arm side, and he throws it to both left- and right-handed hitters. He also has a blunt, pedestrian low-80s curveball.

It’s rare for a pitcher this size, but Povse has a long track record of high-volume strike-throwing that backed up a bit in 2017. Scouts attribute this to discomfort caused by the midseason move to the bullpen and expect Povse’s above-average command to return. He projects as a No. 5 starter.

Drafted: 7th Round, 2013 from LSU
Age 25 Height 6’0 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Splitter Command
55/55 55/55 60/60 40/40

Rumbelow made his MLB debut in 2015 and was projected to play a role in the Yankees 2016 bullpen. In April of ’16, his elbow blew out and he required TJ. He was back for the second half of 2017 and so was his stuff, enabling him to dominate Triple-A. The Yankees traded Rumbelow to Seattle for 17-year-old righty Juan Then and college performer JP Sears as part of their annual exodus of relievers on the fringe of their 40-man.

Rumbelow has a long, violent, overhand arm slot created by pretty extreme spinal tilt. It makes Rumbelow deceptive and enables his fastball — mostly 92-93 but up to 96 with lots of life — to come in at an effective angle up in the zone. Both of Rubelow’s secondary pitches are capable of missing bats. His low-80s curveball and mid-80s splitter each have sharp downward action. The split might be a modified changeup, but it has split action so I have it graded as such. He has a non-zero chance of throwing high-leverage innings this year because the stuff is that good, but he’s also a pretty risky 26-year-old because of the command and previous surgery.

8. Matt Festa, RHP
Drafted: 7th Round, 2016 from East Stroudsburg
Age 24 Height 6’2 Weight 195 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
55/55 50/50 50/50 55/55 45/50

Festa posted video-game numbers in the Cal League, striking out 99 hitters in 70 innings. He generates a lot of power with his hips, which help his fastball top out at 96 or 97 and sit 92-94 with boring action into right-handed hitters. He mixes in three secondaries, all of which are solid average: a 12-6 curveball; a wiping, horizontal slider; and a changeup. When the slider is down and has good length to it, it’s a 55. Some scouts also think the changeup has room for growth yet because of Festa’s arm speed. He profiles as a middle reliever because there isn’t a dominant, bat-missing pitch, but there’s still a chance Festa develops one.

9. Art Warren, RHP
Drafted: 23rd Round, 2015 from Ashland
Age 24 Height 6’3 Weight 230 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
70/70 50/55 50/50 30/30 40/40

Warren’s velocity spiked over the last 18 months. He’s added good weight, has better incorporated his lower half into his delivery, and has moved to the bullpen, enabling him to throw more max-effort pitches. He’s was topping out at 99 in the Arizona Fall League, sitting 93-96 with a fastball that spins at an above-average 2500 rpm.

Warren has a hard, upper-80s slider, a mid-70s curveball, and a scrappable changeup. Neither breaking ball is especially consistent and scouts think Warren hangs too many sliders, but they both flash above-average and should be effective against big-league hitters, especially righties. Platoon issues might limit Warren’s big-league role, but he has middle-relief stuff.

10. Wyatt Mills, RHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Gonzaga
Age 22 Height 6’3 Weight 175 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command
60/60 60/60 50/55

Mills’ pro and amateur reports are pretty homogeneous because the same Northwest area scouts that saw him at Gonzaga saw him in short-season ball after the draft. He’s a side-armer with a sinking 92-94 mph fastball and plus slider. Mills struggled to throw strikes in a small pro sample, but scouts who saw him at Gonzaga think he could develop plus command and some think he has late-inning upside a la Steve Cishek or Sergio Romo, but his arm slot may also create platoon problems that limit his role.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic
Age 21 Height 6’1 Weight 175 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/30 45/50 20/40 70/70 50/55 60/60

This guy is tooled up. Liberato is a plus-plus runner capable of handling center field, has a plus arm, and generates strong power on contact, which helped him net 44 extra-base hits between two levels in 2017.

But scouts don’t think he’s going to hit. Liberato’s swing is noisy, he doesn’t track pitches well, and his long levers create a few holes. There are several factors working against Liberato’s bat, and the chances all of them will be remedied are slim. There’s a non-zero chance he becomes a star, but realistically he projects as a bench outfielder.

12. Mike Ford, 1B
Age 24 Height 6’0 Weight 225 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/55 50/50 45/50 30/30 50/50 55/55

Ford went undrafted out of Princeton despite being named both Ivy League Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year as a junior, so the fact that he’s going to wear a major-league uniform at all is incredible. He is a long-time statistical performer with more career walks than strikeouts in five pro seasons. As a first-base-only prospect, Ford needs to hit a ton to stick in the big leagues. He has excellent ball/strike and breaking-ball recognition and tracks pitches well. He doesn’t have prototypical first-base raw power, but his swing does have some natural loft and he taps into most of what he’s got.

Scouts think he can be beaten with velocity up in the zone, but he’s an otherwise solid offensive player whose pure physical talent may just be short of viability at first base. Nevertheless, he has a chance to hit and reach base enough to stick around — and he’s a better defender than Vogelbach.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2011 from Bishop Verot HS (FL)
Age 24 Height 6’0 Weight 250 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 60/60 45/50 20/20 30/30 40/40

Reports on Vogelbach remain the same. He has plus raw power but it comes at the expense of extreme visible effort, and he’s long been willing to take what is given by pitchers and put the ball in play instead of hunting stuff he can drive. So while Vogelbach remains an interesting bat-to-ball prospect the in-game power production remains short of standards at first base or DH.

14. Joe Rizzo, 3B
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Oakton HS (VA)
Age 19 Height 5’9 Weight 194 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 45/45 20/40 30/30 30/40 50/50

Rizzo has terrific feel to hit and a proclivity for all-fields contact, there’s just not a whole lot of power here, nor does Rizzo’s frame promise any more. Reports on Rizzo’s defense are better this year than they were last, when many scouts thought he was destined for first base. He’s still not a lock to stay at third — he’s just a 45 defender there with a 50 arm and an already maxed-out frame — but he has gotten better. It’s tough to profile him as a corner infielder with 40 game power. It means Rizzo’s bat and on-base ability have to reach Chase Headley or late-career Joe Mauer levels for him to profile as an everyday player. That’s not impossible, but it seems unlikely.


Other Prospects of Note (In Order of Preference)

Juan Querecuto, SS – The Mariners signed Querecuto for $1.2 million in July. He has the Cole Tucker/Manny Machado prototypical SS/3B frame at a well-built 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, appearing quite graceful for his size and age, with promising infield footwork and actions. He lacks explosion of any kind, so scouts are hoping he grows into a better first step on defense, a tick better arm, and something more than his currently well-below-average bat speed. He’s a nice size/physical-projection flier with good baseball instincts, but he’s currently short on physical tools.

Seth Elledge, RHP – The latest of a seemingly endless stream of hard-throwing Dallas Baptist pitchers, Elledge has the typical fastball/slider combination you’d expect from a quick-moving relief prospect. He’ll touch 96 and tilt in an average slider that flashes above.

Chase De Jong, RHP – De Jong made his big-league debut as a spot starter for Seattle last year and, with a four-pitch mix that’s fringey across the board, he continues to project in that role. His command backed up on him last year, too, though that might be a result of him nibbling around the edges of the zone because he stuff can’t compete within it.

Sam Moll, LHP – Claimed off of waivers from Pittsburgh (who claimed him from Oakland), Moll is a low-three-quarters lefty with a slightly above-average fastball, slider, and 40 change. He can locate the changeup fine, but it hangs and doesn’t fool righties. He’s a lefty bullpen depth.

Kyle Wilcox, RHP – Wilcox touches 97 and has a plus-flashing slider, but he’s 23 and hasn’t pitched above Low-A just yet, in part due to injury. He’s a potential reliever.

Eric Filia, RF – Filia had everyone pretty excited after he raked in the Arizona Fall League and looked great in right field. Then he got popped for smoking marijuana and will miss 50 games. Because of injury, a college suspension for academic fraud, and now this, Filia turns 26 in July and is too old to get paid on the free-agent market, let alone for Double-A (rimshot). You can smoke all you want once you’re on the 40-man. He probably hits enough to reach the big leagues, but it’s hard to say that he’ll have any kind of long career. Perhaps as a bench bat.

Anthony Jimenez, OF – Jimenez had a strong, injury-shortened 2017 at Low-A Clinton, where he slashed .298/.362/.482 in 64 games. He has an NFL cornerback build at a muscular, but maxed-out, 5-foot-11. Jimenez has some feel for the barrel and can hit well-struck line drives to all fields, but he chases too often right now and his 2017 stat line was no doubt buoyed by a .407 BABIP. He only fits in an outfielder corner. There’s room for Jimenez to hit for more power if he can ditch his current footwork for something that coaxes more explosion from his lower half, but until something like that happens, the hit/power combo is a little light for profiling in a corner.

Jordan Cowan, INF- Cowan repeated the Cal League in 2017 and his numbers took a bit of a dip, but he can hit and play a couple defensive positions. He got a non-roster invite to spring training. If he has a strong season at Double-A, we can start talking about him as potential utility bat.

Bryson Brigman, INF – Brigman is a hit/run middle-infield prospect who had a long track record of success as an amateur. I had a second-round grade on him ahead of the 2016 draft. Pro scouts consider him to be significantly lacking in power and consider Brigman a fringe defender at short, so there isn’t even a clear path toward a utility gig here right now. But I think Brigman’s feel for contact merits continued looks. He’s a high-end makeup guy who showed some movement in his batted-ball profile last year, increasing his fly-ball rate from 20% to 28%.

Ronald Rosario, OF – Rosario had a huge 40-game stretch in the Northwest League during which he hit .294/.355/.516. He has a 70 arm and above-average bat speed but is otherwise all 40s and 45s across the board. Scouts are skeptical despite his small-sample performance.

Marvin Gorgas, RHP- Gorgas doesn’t have big velo or a wipeout breaking ball but missed a lot of High-A bats with his above-average changeup last year. He has a chance to carve out a middle-relief role.

Anthony Misiewicz, LHP – Traded to Tampa and then re-acquired for “Future Considerations” Misiewicz is a 23-year-old righty with a 55 curveball and good command. He could be rotation depth.

Joe Rosa, INF – Rosa had a big year as an old-for-the-level hitter in short-season A-ball, where he slashed .296/.374/.531. He’s a stocky 5-foot-10 switch-hitter who’s short to the ball from both sides of the plate. He lacks present power and power projection but might hit his way to the big leagues as a hit-first second baseman.

Ian Miller, CF – Miller’s slappy approach to contact limits his power output to the fringes of big-league viability, but he’s a 70 runner who puts the bat on the ball, so he has a chance to be a bench outfielder for a while. He’s had a good pro career for a small-school 14th-rounder.

Jorge Benitez, LHP – A ninth-round high schooler out of Puerto Rico, Benitez has a promising arm action and enough physical projection to dream on his currently fringey velocity. He was a nice late-round body/delivery developmental project.

Cesar Izturis, Jr. – Izturis is small and likely has a utility ceiling because of his size (the same was said about his uncle and father, which I guess was true except for a random three-win season for each of them), but he’s an advanced defensive infielder with just enough arm for the left side of the infield. He has elite makeup.

Brayan Perez, LHP – A projectable lefty who can spin a breaking ball, Perez signed out of Venezuela for $350K in July.

Nolan Perez, 3B – Perez had a strong year in the DSL. He has plus hands at third base and advanced feel for contact, but he’s a 40 athlete with medium range. Scouts aren’t willing to project the sort of power he’d require if a move to first base is necessary.

Chuck Taylor, OF – A former minor-league Rule 5 selection, Taylor has interesting career-long peripherals in a 17% career strikeout rate and 11% career walk rate. He also has above-average speed. Taylor’s hands work better as a left-handed hitter, but his weight transfer isn’t well timed from that side; as a right-handed hitter, his issues are the inverse of that. If that gets ironed out, he could be an extra outfielder.

Jansiel Rivera, OF – Rivera grew up in New England and then moved to the Dominican Republic for a year and a half before moving back to the U.S. ahead of his senior prom. He was draft eligible but was mostly scouted by international scouts in the D.R. so many area guys didn’t know about him. Seattle saw him in a workout at their complex in Arizona, liked him, drafted him late and gave him $125,000 to sign. He’s a big-framed, power-hitting lottery ticket with 55 raw power.

Christian Pedrol, RHP – Seattle has done well in Brazil (Luiz Gohara, Thyago Vieira), and while Pedrol doesn’t have that kind of heat, he is a polished strike-thrower with workable stuff. He doesn’t have much physical projection but could end up a mess of 50s who’s able to play some kind of big-league role.

Cistulli’s Guy
Selected by Carson Cistulli from any player who received less than a 40 FV.

Zach Vincej, SS
Acquired off waivers from the Reds in November, Vincej possesses two skills that are difficult for a ballplayer in his 20s to just acquire by means of practice and repetition — namely, the ability to play an adequate defensive shortstop and also to make contact at an order of magnitude greater than his peers. Both skills translate directly to on-field value and there’s little dissent among the most relevant parties that Vincej has them.

And yet, Vincej has remained absent from lists like the present one. As for why, it’s because of one important skill he hasn’t exhibited — namely, the capacity to impact the ball with any great force. Over the course of nearly 2,300 minor-league plate appearances, the 26-year-old has produced a .089 isolated-power figure. By way of comparison, only three qualified major leaguers recorded a lower mark in 2017, and two of them (Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton) combined for nearly two wins by way of just baserunning alone.

As Jeff Sullivan noted earlier in the offseason, however, there might be some cause for optimism where Vincej’s power on contact is concerned.

From Sullivan’s piece:

Vincej had a strikeout rate of about 12%, and a grounder rate of about 37%. That was in the highest level of the minors. Last year there were 24 major-league hitters who batted at least 250 times and had strikeout rates under 17%, and grounder rates under 40%. Vincej, obviously, isn’t the next Joey Votto, but this group also includes guys like Eric Sogard and Whit Merrifield. Of the 24 players, 20 finished with a wRC+ north of 100. The average wRC+ was 118, with a median of 116. The big-league ball has been rewarding contact and flies. Vincej seems to generate contact and flies. What might an extra 10 feet or so mean?

In addition simply to making contact, Vincej also began putting the ball in the air more often last year. That’s been productive strategy for other hitters, even those whose power numbers have been something less than pedestrian. It’s worth monitoring, at the very least.

System Overview

Yes, this system is bad. It’s important to consider why it’s bad, though. Since becoming GM, Jerry Dipoto has traded the following players who would have been included on this list:

That’s an entire system’s worth of players that Seattle scouts had signed, drafted, or otherwise helped acquire who were of interest to other teams. The return for those prospects is as follows:

Players Acquired with Prospects
by Jerry Dipoto

That’s not all that bad up top, especially when you consider that Gohara and Jackson were sent packing partially for non-baseball reasons. But there has been an exodus of depth, high-variance, higher upside guys like Vargas, Torres and Then moved for the sort of back-end changeup/command starters and relievers whom the Yankees churn out pretty regularly. It’s better to develop a Nick Rumbelow than it is to trade a potential growth asset for him.

It’s clear that, with so much money committed to Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz , that Seattle has taken aim at competing now, and the front office may not have been given time for progressive Player Dev hires to transform fringe prospects into hard-throwing relievers, or to wait for prospect like Then to mature as ballplayers.

That’s fine for now, and this list looks artificially short in part because Mitch Haniger (acquired with Jean Segura for Tai Walker and Ketel Marte), Guillermo Heredia (probably a platoon CF), and Andrew Moore (a No. 4/5 starter) graduated off the list. But that doesn’t make what Seattle is doing sustainable.

Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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6 years ago

I don’t think anyone disagrees with the MO of trading prospects for big-league talent so you can compete now. I think what most people disagree with is the return.

I’m scrolling through the list, and pretty much every single one (O’Neill for Gonzalez, Jackson for Povse and Whalen, Diaz and Herrera and Peralta for Lind, Gohara for Smyly, Powell for Alonso, Vieria for virtually nothing at all) has turned out badly, and pretty much all of them except the Jackson trade looked bad at the time (to be fair, the Gohara for Smyly trade didn’t look quite so lopsided then, but it didn’t look great then either).

Even Niedert and Torres for Gordon doesn’t look good, since you have to project him to be worth a ton of value in center field to offset his likely offensive decline and fewer plate appearances and so he is likely overpaid going forward.

There is one trade that looks defensible right now for them (Hernandez and Miller and Lopez for Phelps), and one that was a clear win (Gamel for Orozco and De Paula).

IMO, trading prospects for veterans is fine, but amassing an army of AAAA arms like the Mariners are doing is not a good solution.

Joe Joemember
6 years ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

In addition to the return being bad, I think they got the “compete now” part wrong. They just went a decade with finishing once within 10 games of the division leader (I could be off by one as I just took a quick look). A different sport, but to heavily paraphrase Daryl Morey (Rockets GM), “a mistake a lot of teams make is going for it with a core almost good enough to build around as it hard to complete core once resources are devoted to going for it”. In basketball, going for it causes salary cap problems, and in baseball, it uses up prospects as well as salary is being devoted to players generally at end or past their peak.

6 years ago
Reply to  Joe Joe

Zduriencek’s signings of Cano (bad) and Cruz (good) to a 71-win 2013 team were puzzling. I suppose he couldn’t have foreseen that Felix would go into freefall, Montero & Ackley would never develop, and Taijuan Walker, Smoak, Saunders, Chris Taylor, Brad Miller, Ketel Marte, and Nick Franklin would develop elsewhere. Dipoto’s mandate was a salvage job, since Paxton is the only guy remaining with trade value. As Otter says, he might have had a chance if Ohtani signed, but now it looks bleak.

For those readers who like a few anti-SABR front offices for diversity and a few more dingers to make a 71-win team into a 78-win team with no farm system, here you go!

6 years ago
Reply to  Shalesh

Classic example of agency problem, where the GM is willing to mortgage the future to save his own job. See it all the time in the business world, where CEOs underinvest in the future or take excessive risks to maximize short-term shareholder returns (and thus, their annual bonuses).

6 years ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

The Vieria deal was clearly made with Ohtani in mind, and they must have gotten some sign that they were at least very close to signing him (my guess is they finished second). Getting Ohtani would change a lot here; they’re probably the favorites for the second wild card and we’re all saying “the system isn’t good, but at least they have an outside shot at 90 wins”.

But overall, I agree, Dipoto’s doing what Dombrowski and Kenny Williams have done; only a lot less well.

6 years ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I agree, the Mariners are in a bad spot, they are an 85 win team with arguably the best team in baseball in the same division. Trade 60% of your 40+ value prospects so you can make your team into a WC hopeful, not good, not sustainable by any means. I would argue the Phelps trade wasn’t good. He is paid $5.5M this year which is a good deal, but they could get a FA for 8MM that is just as good without giving up Hernandez, Miller, Lopez. They also got him for a half season last year, didn’t help. Gamel was a good trade but he’s not a starter for me, but is a quality 4th OF with a little upside. Getting Leake was a good get too.

6 years ago
Reply to  craiglambert50

Leake and Dyson were actually good trades, but neither one involved moving prospects so I didn’t include them. I’m lukewarm on the Segura deal because Walker is cheaper and about as good, but if Haniger outperforms Marte (and early returns are promising) then it’s fair.

I actually think Dipoto’s biggest problems are:
1) He inherited a team that needed to win now because of all the aging sluggers and no-trade clauses, but that was already on the decline. That’s a losing hand, and he didn’t have many prospects to work with before.
2) His position suggests he should be very active on the free agent market but he is very averse to free agency.
3) He loves trading which works well when there were lousy GMs but most of the lousy GMs are gone now.

6 years ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Rayder Ascanio went to St. Louis in the deal for Leake, though you could argue he was swapped for IBP dough.

6 years ago
Reply to  craiglambert50

they are not currently an 85 win team

6 years ago
Reply to  jmsdean477

They are above average

Joe Joemember
6 years ago
Reply to  craiglambert50

They are average until Paxton spends time on the DL.

6 years ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

This is what happens when you hire a trigger happy GM (DiPoto) who knows not how to keep prospects.

6 years ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I would argue that the deal for Leake was a win and The Segura/Haniger deal gave Seattle what they needed most at the time: a ready-now SS and leadoff hitter, along with a promising outfielder. I’d call that a win for both clubs.

We’ll have to wait and see how the deal for Gordon turns out, but that’s less of a concern than some of the other deals we’ve seen.

There’s been more misses than hits, but Jerry has succeeded in getting considerably younger and able to compete immediately. There’s value in that.

6 years ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Both Orozco and De Paula both would have probably made this list and Gamel is a fringe starter/luxury fourth OF so I’m not sure that is a clear win. More of a meh trade for me.