By: Noah Wright
Earlier this off season, the Seattle Mariners made it clear that they were looking to start a rebuild. The first to go was catcher Mike Zunino when he was traded to the Rays earlier in November. It was a straight up Zunino for Mallex Smith trade. Then a few weeks later, the M’s dealt James Paxton to the Yankees. The Mariners received a top 50 prospect in Justus Sheffield, along with 2 underrated prospects. Both of these trades seemed to show the M’s learned from past mistakes of trading for MLB talent instead of minor league talent, like when they dealt off Mallex Smith when he was entering his sophomore season for Drew Smyly. However a few weeks ago, the M’s were talking to the Padres in a trade that would send Mike Leake and Jean Segura to San Diego for Wil Myers. It definitely would not have been wise for the M’s to do that, but trade talks haven’t resurfaced in a week or so.
Now, the last days of November (started writing this in November 30th), and the Mariners could make another mistake by the end of the week. The M’s are about to package closer Edwin Diaz with Robinson Cano to the Mets for 3 young players, plus Anthony Swarzak and Jay Bruce. But this trade in the end could really mess up the team’s rebuild.
For starters, why are they packaging Edwin Diaz with Robinson Cano? Diaz had a 1.56 ERA, .791 WHIP. His ERA+ was 208. Diaz showed great control of his high 90’s fastball, only walking batters at a 2.1 per 9 rate. He would strike out batters at a 15.3 per 9 rate as well. He’ll be entering his age 25 season, and hasn’t hit arbitration yet. Diaz value couldn’t be higher right now. On his own, Edwin could bring back a large prospect package of 2 or even 3 top 100 prospects
Robinson Cano on the other hand, is still a productive player, as he batted .303/.374/.471 with a 136 wRC+. His defense was still above average at 2B, having 4 DRS, 2.8 UZR and a .3 dWAR. However he’s not going to carry much value overall. Cano is entering his late 30’s, but on a massive contract. He’s owed $24 million every season through 2023. His massive contract makes his value go down. The 80 game suspension he received last season after he tested positive for a banned substance doesn’t help either.
While writing this, the Mariners traded away another player who could have brought back some prospects that could have been useful in the future. They traded away set-up man Alex Colome to the Chicago White Sox for catcher Omar Narvaez. Colome came off his third straight productive season. Even though he came out of the gates stumbling with the Rays, he rebounded the rest of the season after a trade to the Mariners. Overall, he had a 3.04 ERA, 3.44 FIP, and 1.176 WHIP in 68 innings. Plus he’s still fairly youthful at only 29 years old, and having 2 more years of arbitration years left.
Omar Narvaez is an overall solid catcher, but not what the Mariners need right now, unless they plan to try to flip him. This season, Narvaez saw a good amount of playing time since Wellington Castillo had to serve an 80 game suspension over a banned substance. In 322 plate appearances, Narvaez batted .275/.366/.429 with a 122 wRC+. However for being a catcher, he was overall not too much of a defender. He had -13 DRS, and only caught 24% of runners trying to steal on him. He also wasn’t a good pitch framer either, having -11.8 framing runs saved.
The M’s are making some strange moves over in Seattle. Packaging Cano with Diaz is a bad idea for the team’s future. Adding Cano’s contract in an Edwin Diaz deal will only bring down Diaz’s value. Then by trading Colome, a nice back end bullpen piece a team like the Braves or Red Sox might have paid a pretty penny to acquire, for a mid-range catcher, they further jeopardize their rebuild. However, they haven’t ruined their own rebuild yet. The package return for Cano+Diaz isn’t ‘bad’, and maybe they will try to get something back for Narvaez. Plust, they have Jean Segura who could bring back some decent pieces. However, the M’s definitely need to stop make a trade like these ones, and focus on trying to acquire prospects who not only are prospects, but also have a bright outlook.