By: Noah Wright
After trading Edwin Diaz, Jean Segura, Alex Colome, James Pazos, Mike Zunino, and James Paxton the Mariners should have a top 10 farm system in all of baseball at least. However, it seems that some of their trades have been lopsided. The Jean Segura deal felt like a salary dump move, when Segura is a near all-star level middle infielder, offensively and defensively, who is being paid fair market value. The Alex Colome trade almost made no sense whatsoever. They traded a good late inning arm with 2 years of control left (2019-2020) for Omar Narvaez. While Narvaez did turn in a good .794 OPS, and 122 wRC+, he was worth -13 DRS, and only caught 24% of runners trying to steal on him. His pitch framing was also below average, being worth -10.8 framing runs. Colome could have easily have brought back a top 100 prospect from a team in need of late inning help. Pinning Edwin Diaz with Robinson Cano was also an unwise move. While the return for Cano+Diaz+salary relief from Cano’s contract wasn’t bad, Diaz on his own could have brought back much more.
However, the M’s can still redeem themselves. They’ve yet to trade likely the most valuable asset on the team from 2017, and they’re still shoping him around. That’s outfielder Mitch Haniger. In 683 plate appearances last season from Haniger, he turned in an impressive .285/.366/.493 batting line with 26 home runs and 93 RBI’s. Fangraphs also pinned him at 138 wRC+. Defensively, he may not be so good in centerfield, but he excels greatly in right. In RF, Haniger had 9 DRS, and a 1.9 UZR. Plus he had 12 outfield assists, and was 3.2 outfield arm runs above average. Overall, his defense was worth .2 dWAR. Haniger is also very valuable from a financial standpoint. He’s controllable through 2022, and has yet to hit arbitration.
The Mariners also have one of the most prospect rich teams interested in Mitch; The Atlanta Braves. The Braves have 10 prospects in mlb.com’s top 100 list. Most of the 10 are MLB ready, or will be in 2019. Atlanta also needs another corner outfielder. The team probably won’t resign Nick Markakis, leaving just Ender Inciarte and Rookie Of The Year Ronald Acuna in the grass. Plus, the Braves should be ready to spend, both money and prospects. This is the time for the Mariners to strike for a package.
The first name to headline this package is one of the team’s top pitching prospects. 7 of the 10 in the top 100 are pitching prospects. Touki Toussaint would be one that could be on the block in a trade. Last season, Toussaint had a 2.38 ERA, 2.77 FIP, and 1.130 WHIP in 136 and a third innings split between Double-A and Triple-A. He had only given up 7 home runs as well. Touki had struck out batters at a 11.3 per 9 rate, but only walking them at a 3.5 per 9 rate. When he got to the majors, he may have posted a 4.03 ERA, and 1.345 WHIP, but he did have a 3.78 FIP in 29 innings, and is only 22. Overall, mlb.com ranks him 40/100
Another player that could head back to Seattle in a deal involving Haniger going to Atlanta is Austin Riley. Riley is the organization’s top third base prospect. The 21 year old is projected to make the bigs sometime in 2019. In 455 plate appearances in the mid-to-upper minors (Double-A and Triple-A), Riley turned in some really good results. He hit for a .294/.360/.522 batting line while also blasting 19 home runs. In Triple-A, Riley recorded a 127 wRC+. While he’ll never be a big contributor with his baserunning, he will provide some good defensive value. MLB.com gives his fielding a 50, but his throwing arm a 60.
While a package of Toussaint+Riley may be a bit much that’s far from the team’s top prospects. I do feel that the Mariners will ask for Riley. Afterall, Kyle Seager is another name the M’s are shopping around. Plus, Riley will bring some youth to the hot corner. Touissaint could probably be inter-matched with former Mariner prospect-now Braves prospect Luiz Gohara, Bryse Wilson, and Kolby Allard.
For a rebuilding team, the Mariners haven’t really gotten any good prospects. Especially for players like Segura and Edwin Diaz. However this could be their chance to redeem themselves and get a prospect haul. The Atlanta Braves are in need of a corner outfielder, and the Mariners have one of the best corner outfielders in 2018 on their roster, and are willing to shop him around. If the Marines don’t get back some sort of haul, or add on Kyle Seager with Mitch Haniger as just a salary dump, their rebuild will be starting out, somewhat rough. That’s even after a decent return for James Paxton.