The Mariners were swept by the Kansas City Royals last night to fall to four games under .500. The All-Star game is in a few days, and the trade deadline is a couple of weeks. With the Mariners where they are, there is no way they will be buyers at the deadline.
Last week during an interview with 710 ESPN, Mariner’s GM Jerry Dipoto hinted towards shifting the focus towards the 2018 season.
“For all that we’ve done to keep ourselves afloat, we do understand that we have holes,” Dipoto said. “We’ve done a remarkable job I think of having guys step up and fill in where needed, but we have to be open-minded about what we can do not only for the remainder of 2017, but in effect doing some early shopping for 2018 if that’s possible.”
While this team has certainly made the best of a bad situation with all the injuries, they aren’t in a great position. It’s time to make the decision on what they will do at the deadline.
For that, there’s what they probably will do and what they should do.
Given what Dipoto said, what is likely to happen is that he will keep the team together to make a run in 2018. This would involve trading guys like Danny Valencia and Jarrod Dyson at the deadline who will be free agents at the end of the season.
These trades could bring back young arms that the Mariners would desperately need for next year. But they wouldn’t receive top talent with what they’re trading.
What they should do is have an all out fire sale. That may be a touchy subject to some who went through the Jack Zduriencik era, but times were different then.
Now, baseball has the second Wild Card berth. This puts more teams in buying mode at the trade deadline. Because of that, fewer teams are willing to sell, and the price for top talent at the deadline goes up. The Mariners are in an interesting position where they have the talent to make a playoff run next season. But a lot of the core is aging past their prime, and their value is dropping.
Right now is when the Mariners can get the most return. That means trading guys like Nelson Cruz and James Paxton for loads of prospects. Yes, M’s fans might have an additional three years or so of misery, but the farm will get stacked with some of the top talents in baseball. And all of this under a new regime than the last time.
This team is so close to being a legitimate contender. And they would probably be if it weren’t for the injuries, but they are borderline. Even if they did make the playoffs, chances of them advancing are slim. So the team’s best bet is to look forward, and mold their team from the ground up like the Astros and Cubs have.
From the business side of things, now is the time for a fire sale. Sell high and build a great team for the future.