Here's where Mariners stand with Trade Deadline approaching

June 28th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Daniel Kramer’s Mariners Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

SEATTLE -- On the heels of a disappointing road trip that ended on a high note, the Mariners came away from their East Coast trek with perhaps more questions than answers, at least about how they'll approach the July 30 Trade Deadline.

Will the Mariners be buyers, sellers or a little of both?

They’ll be firm buyers, rather than a mix of both, as they were in 2023 and '21, when their additions also involved subtractions to the Major League roster (à la the Kendall Graveman and Paul Sewald trades). Yet, the Mariners will navigate what’s shaping up to be an extreme sellers' market.

In the National League, all teams but the Marlins and Rockies are within 4 1/2 games of a playoff spot, which could delay the market’s movement and lead to sky-high asking prices. The American League is more top-heavy, but some teams that could sell may not take that approach -- because of organizational philosophy (like the Astros and, to a lesser extent, the Blue Jays) -- or due to their history of not doing business within the division (like the Angels and the A’s).

Seattle has sat in first place for 47 straight days, but the club has also seen its AL West lead trimmed from 10 games to 4 1/2, which perhaps represents a wake-up call to some distinct roster needs.

How can they upgrade the offense?

It depends on who the Mariners acquire, but the only spots locked long-term are their three foundational players -- center fielder Julio Rodríguez, shortstop J.P. Crawford and catcher Cal Raleigh.

First base and the corner-outfield spots appear to be the clearest avenues if the Mariners get aggressive on the aircraft carriers -- going after guys like Luis Robert Jr., Pete Alonso and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. -- though it’s still wildly unclear if those players will be available, especially Guerrero, who would be the best fit.

The same could be said for Christian Walker, whose D-backs are flirting with an NL Wild Card spot, and many of the Rays players that would be good fits (Isaac Paredes, Yandy Díaz and Randy Arozarena). The Giants’ LaMonte Wade Jr. would fill a left-handed-hitting void.

Seattle could upgrade at third base and move Josh Rojas to second. Or, it could upgrade at second and move on from Jorge Polanco. The Angels’ Luis Rengifo would be a strong fit, but Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto has never executed a trade with his former team.

Do they have enough rotation depth?

It’s a legitimate question in the wake of Bryan Woo’s latest injury, and Bryce Miller's pronounced struggles on the road.

The Mariners are one injury to Luis Castillo, George Kirby or Logan Gilbert away from a precarious spot. Starting pitching is lower on the totem pole than their other needs, but it’s on their minds.

Do they have enough leverage arms?

Seattle needs at least one, if not two -- and that’s not considering Gregory Santos, who’s been sidelined all year and comes with question marks. The club is considering No. 19 prospect Logan Evans for a bullpen role down the stretch, but it won’t thrust the 2023 Draft pick into leverage right away.

Andrés Muñoz has been dealing with a lower back strain, and he looked vulnerable on Wednesday, when he issued two walks and hit a batter. Ryne Stanek has been a nice pickup, but on a postseason roster, the Mariners would probably prefer him before the eighth inning.

The Mariners went into the year intending to operate with a three-headed beast of Muñoz, Santos and Matt Brash before Santos was shut down in the spring and Brash had Tommy John surgery. But that blueprint shows the calculus of how Seattle would like the group to look.

Who are their biggest trade chips?

The Mariners have all the assets in the pipeline to get a seat at any table -- it’s just a matter of what talent they’re getting in return and how long said talent has until free agency.

The Mariners have four prospects on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list -- infielder Cole Young (No. 25), catcher Harry Ford (No. 26), infielder Colt Emerson (No. 48) and outfielder Lazaro Montes (No. 81) -- all of whom look like players the club could build around for years to come.

Beyond that group, switch-hitting shortstop Felnin Celesten has been touted as the guy with the most upside in the system, and outfielder Tai Peete is among the group’s most athletic. The same goes for outfielder Jonny Farmelo, but he just underwent season-ending ACL surgery.

If the Mariners want to shop in the deepest end of the trade pool, they certainly have the capital to do so.