Could Yandy Diaz be the solution the Mariners' roster needs?
The offseason started out hot for the Mariners but things have slowed down recently. As available options dwindle, could Jerry Dipoto turn to an old trade partner to fill their needs?
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Mariners will likely not fill their offensive need through free agency as their options continue to dwindle. Seattle could use an offensive upgrade but outside of Andrew Benintendi and Michael Conforto not many players on the open market fit this team.
The Pirates are reportedly seeking a “Juan Soto type package” for Bryan Reynolds which makes it difficult to envision Seattle putting together. Seattle’s front office has expressed a desire to get better offensively and also a desire to add a player that plays the corner infield spots. Jerry Dipoto has shown a propensity to be creative to fill needs in the past, so could he pull Yandy Diaz from the Rays?
We know Jerry has a working relationship with Tampa, making several deals over his time in Seattle. The last time he pulled the trigger on a deal it netted the Mariners Diego Castillo, but the most notable move was acquiring Denard Span and Alex Colomé in 2018.
The Rays are very creative with the way they orient their roster, and often like to move on from players before they start making money in arbitration. They have a very crowded infield filled with talented players but not all of them have produced to their full potential yet. Wander Franco is cemented as their shortstop but players like Jonathan Aranda, Vidal Bruján, Curtis Mead, and Taylor Walls will all likely get a shot to play next year.
Tampa still has Brandon Lowe as well and seems unlikely to move him (although he could be a fit as well). With all of this being said, Yandy Díaz could become available. He fits the criteria of players the Rays are motivated to move as he will be a free agent in 2025. Any team that trades for him would get two seasons but would have to start paying him more money in arbitration.
Díaz was the best hitter on their team last season, slashing .296/.401/.423 with 9 home runs and a WRC+ of 146 last season. This is extremely impressive, making him one of the most productive hitters in the American League.
Another thing that may draw Seattle to Díaz is that he almost never strikes out (10.8%) and walks at a well above average rate (14%). He is the perfect “Control the Zone” player, and his Baseball Savant page is just as impressive.
Díaz does almost everything well offensively, and his advanced numbers look very similar to that of Julio Rodríguez or Teoscar Hernández. He hits the ball hard and hits it hard often, while simultaneously never chasing or striking out.
Just about the only weakness to Díaz’s offensive profile is his Barrel %. This comes from the fact that the Cuban native rarely hits the ball at an optimal launch angle. His average launch angle was just a 7.7 last season, making it pretty clear that he is a line drive hitter. He rarely hits the ball hard and at a high angle, thus the low barrel % and low home run totals.
If he had played in T-Mobile Park last season he would have hit 11 home runs, two more than his final total of 9. Although he offers little power, Díaz could be an electric addition to this Mariners’ offense next season.
Typically Díaz lined up at third base last season for the Rays and was below average at the position. He is likely a little better at first base but offers little versatility other than the corner infield spots. Seattle could use him, Ty France, and Eugenio Suárez in a rotation at the corner spots and DH.
It remains to be seen whether the Rays would entertain dealing Díaz but it seems likely Seattle will reach out. He offers them an offensive upgrade that may not exist in many other places on this market, and Dipoto has a long history of making deals with the Rays. He is coming off a career year and is 31 years old, adding to the likelihood that Tampa may look to extract value from him now.
The Rays have many unique strategies and see value in players that other organizations do not, so it is difficult to know what they would want in a deal. Young pitching is a good place to start, and they could have an interest in Evan White as a versatile young player. Penn Murfee may be a good starting place for a deal like this.
Upgrading their offense is the priority, and Díaz would be a great way to get this done in the absence of getting a quality outfield bat this winter.