Jerry Dipoto acknowledges he really wasn’t looking to deal catcher Austin Nola as Monday’s 1 p.m. PT Trade Deadline approached. But when Padres general manager A.J. Preller kept raising the stakes on what he was willing to give up, eventually the Mariners' GM couldn’t say no.
As a result, Seattle’s rebuilding efforts took on an unexpected boost Sunday night as the two teams finalized a seven-player swap that added another elite outfield prospect in Taylor Trammell, a promising young catcher in Luis Torrens, a potential long-term replacement at third base in Ty France and a reliever with a 100-mph fastball in Andres Muñoz.
Toss in a player to be named from the Blue Jays for Taijuan Walker last Thursday and another from the Padres in a last-minute swap for reliever Taylor Williams on Monday and the Mariners’ farm system and youthful Major League roster added a surprising number of pieces to the puzzle during what Dipoto had thought was going to be a pretty quiet Trade Deadline.
“We 100 percent expected to execute the Taijuan Walker trade,” Dipoto said. “But the last two deals with the Padres came a little unexpected. They had called repeatedly on Austin Nola and we had repeatedly rebuffed that interest until the return just became too big for us to pass up in our minds.”
Dipoto has been pursuing Trammell and France for years, and his eyes opened wide when both became available from the aggressive Padres, who are loading up for a big playoff run in this shortened season.
“As many phone calls as A.J. made to me this last week about Austin Nola, I have made as many to him over the last couple of years regarding Ty France,” Dipoto said. “And our interest in Taylor Trammell dates back to his days as a high schooler.”
The Mariners had Trammell as one of their top players on the board when they selected Kyle Lewis with the 11th pick in the first round in 2016. Trammell wound up going 35th overall to the Reds, was traded to the Padres in July '19 and now joins a Mariners team that already has Lewis putting together an outstanding rookie campaign in center field, as well as top outfield prospects Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodríguez waiting in the wings.
“He has a different skill set than the other outfielders we have,” Dipoto said, noting that Trammell is more of a speedster who could be a top-of-the-lineup hitter with the ability to provide power as well.
Trammell played at the Double-A level last year and thus will join Kelenic and Rodríguez at the Mariners’ alternate training site in Tacoma, Wash., to continue his development.
Torrens and France will provide more immediate help as they’ll hook up with the big league team as soon as they pass COVID-19 testing, with Torrens penciled in as the primary catcher for the remainder of this season and France figuring to get everyday at-bats while moving between designated hitter, third base, first base and even some second at times.
Muñoz is recovering from Tommy John surgery and could be ready for game action by late May next season, according to Dipoto.
Torrens’ offensive numbers aren’t impressive from his MLB time, but most of that came in 2017 when he was a 21-year-old Rule 5 Draft rookie forced to spend a full season in the Majors after making the jump from Class A ball. He has since developed into a good defensive backstop as well as a capable hitter, and the Mariners will give him a chance to get his first consistent big league shot this season with Nola gone and Tom Murphy sidelined by a broken bone in his left foot.
It all adds up to another impressive influx of youthful potential that has the Mariners pointed toward a promising future. Seattle’s farm system now has six players in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospect list, as well as Lewis, Justus Sheffield and a flock of rookies playing well at the big league level for a club that was won eight of its last 12 games.
“Over the last year and a half, I’m not sure we could have painted a picture that has gone much better,” Dipoto said. “It feels almost impossible to imagine that from the time we started this [rebuilding] process in September of 2018 to where we are today that it could have gone much better.
“Certainly we’ve not hit on everything we’ve done and we never expected to. And we know attrition will not allow this to go 100 percent as we’ve planned, which is why continuing to create layers and waves and build that depth is critical to building from within. And we’ll continue to do that.”