Trade deadline breakdown: What happened and what is next for the Mariners roster?
One loud move and a whole lot of silence. What to make of Seattle's deadline here at Sea Level.
As the minutes slowly slipped away on the 2023 trade deadline, the Seattle Mariners remained dormant, a similar feeling to deadlines and player acquisition cycles of the past. Frustration from the fan base is one hundred percent justified especially with the team’s torrid stretch of play recently. So what happened at the deadline? What’s next? Let’s take a look.
On Monday afternoon the Mariners pulled the trigger on a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, acquiring three position players for closer Paul Sewald. You can find my full breakdown of the deal here.
In my breakdown, I promised I wouldn’t put any judgment on the trade until the deadline had passed, a lesson most of us should have learned after the Kendall Graveman/Diego Castillo deals of 2021.
There was plenty of time to pull the trigger on another move, especially for a team that simply needed an average bat or two. Seattle opted to sit out the rest of the deadline, giving a feeling of empty-handedness to a fan base starving for a consistent winner.
At just 3.5 games out of a playoff spot, it felt like the Mariners should have been a buyer. Instead, the front office opted for a singular sideways move that may or may not help them in 2023.
Over the years I have waivered on my support for Jerry Dipoto, but most of the time I have been a fan of his work. For the last few years I have been very complimentary of his approach to roster building and how that coexists with long-term success.
Through all of this, one criticism has stood the test of time; his ability to gather depth has been sub-par. Seattle has had plenty of good rosters over the Dipoto years, but not once have they had TOO MUCH.
Gather too many hitters. Have too many high-leverage relievers. The closest thing they have come to this is the 2023 rotation, but even this rotation could have used a depth boost from the outside. There is never really such a thing as too much depth, but Seattle has consistently settled for just enough depth to fill out a lineup.
This was a very strange deadline in general. Not a ton of players around the league of any sort of impact were moved, a microcosm of the expanded playoffs. Expanded playoffs allow a lot more mediocrity, failing to challenge teams to push the limits of their roster.
Tons of buyers and limited sellers led to teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, and more to be quiet. We have no idea what this market looked like, and we would be fools to shout at the front office without knowing exactly what conversations they were involved in.
At the end of the day, they did make a very interesting move, one that has the potential to help the 2023 Mariners and beyond.
Seattle acquired Josh Rojas, a left-handed hitting infielder who has spent some time in the corner outfield. I don’t love Rojas as a player, especially not a starter, but it is easy to see why the front office insisted he was a part of the deal. He will be the platoon partner to José Caballero and Dylan Moore for the rest of 2023.
The last two seasons have seen the 29 year old put up a 102 and 108 wRC+, a slightly above-average bat in major league baseball. He put up a total of 4.4 fWAR during this time. He can run, play all the infield spots, and hit a little bit despite his 2023 struggles. This is a player that could be a very nice bench piece in 2024 and beyond.
Dominic Canzone is the headliner of the deal. The 25 year old invokes flashbacks of Mitch Haniger, a former Diamondbacks prospect tearing the cover off the ball in Triple A.
Canzone is a corner outfielder and first base option, with average to fringe-average defense at both. He was one of the very best performers in all of minor league baseball this season, and his underlying numbers show he may already be a good major league hitter although he has a small sample size.
The left-handed hitter has plus power, and an ability to hit for .250 or better average at the big league level. I really think Mitch Haniger is a good production comp for Canzone.
Seattle also acquired an extremely fun piece in this deal in 2018 second-round pick Ryan Bliss. Bliss has exploded this season, posting a .332/.391/.556 line with 13 home runs and 35 stolen bases.
The 23-year-old is likely to end up at second base long term, but can play shortstop as well. He will join Tacoma soon and could have a chance to audition for a role in 2024 as soon as next month.
These moves certainly have the chance to raise the floor of this team, adding some depth with Rojas, and potential impact with Canzone.
Seattle certainly could have added one rental bat to give them some more production and length in this lineup. They could have added another starter to take some pressure off of Bryan Woo, Bryce Miller, and Emerson Hancock. They could have added another high-leverage type to make sure Andrés Muñoz doesn’t get run into the ground. They didn’t.
They opted to keep Ty France and Teoscar Hernández on this roster, a move that I think is smart. Both players are likely going to play closer to what they have been their entire lives the rest of the way than what they have been this season.
They kept Logan Gilbert, Bryce Miller, and the rest of the pitching staff amongst many rumors that were almost certainly overblown. They can still do this, but they need to play their best baseball. Seattle has to take serious advantage of the teams they are racing with, starting with the Red Sox finale and the Shohei Ohtani led Angels this weekend.
Their lack of aggression could leave this club on the outside looking in come October. This offseason will be the most important one in a long time, a Winter full of trying to fill the obvious holes on this roster with high level impact.
All we can do now is support what they have, most of which is still pretty damn fun.
It’s time to go. GOMS.
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