M’s Trade for Denard Span/Alex Colome

marc w · May 25, 2018 at 4:56 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

By now, you probably know that I don’t quite get how the Mariners front office evaluates players or their overall organizational strategy. This isn’t about being ‘pessimistic’ or ‘optimistic’ or being a contrarian for the sake of it. This is me not really understanding some fundamental principles that are clearly pretty important to Jerry Dipoto and company.

It’s with that background that I have to report I’m again pretty flummoxed by Dipoto’s latest trade, sending out two pitching prospects for Tampa reliever Alex Colome and CF Denard Span.

There’s no doubt that Robinson Cano’s suspension left the team in a bind. Having decided to move Dee Gordon back to 2B, the team is going to have to figure out what to do once the suspension’s over. Acquiring Span makes it clear that Gordon can stay at 2B, but it also freezes out Guillermo Heredia, who’s been one of the M’s best hitters and the surprise of 2018 to date.

Colome, who throws a four-seamer at 96, but uses his 90 MPH cutter over 60% of the time, can probably help get the M’s to Edwin Diaz, but he’s not a lights out reliever. Juan Nicasio *should* be better, and Dan Altavilla should be similar.

In this trade, the M’s are giving up a close to the majors starter in Andrew Moore and promising lower level starter Tommy Romero, who’s probably been the biggest breakout of 2018 in the M’s minors; he’s slmost certainly the biggest breakout *starter*. This has been Dipoto’s preference ever since he arrived, trading SP depth for set-up relievers. It’s just that the M’s track record in such deals is really, really bad. As I’ve written, the low-level depth the M’s have moved fairly quickly turned into interesting prospects while the set-up guys – with the possible exception of James Pazos – have crashed and burned.

But again, my issue with this isn’t the track record; Joaquin Benoit won’t make Alex Colome pitch worse. Instead, it’s the constant churn in organizational depth in order to make fairly minor improvements. Denard Span’s having a good year, and if his patience stays this good, he’ll help a line-up that could stand to walk more often. But he’s 34 and not cheap for someone who may be a platoon OF. Colome is fine, but as an arb-eligible bet having trouble with walks AND who now has the closer label, this seems like poor value for Moore/Romero (not that those two are household names).

I know the M’s had money to spend and I get wanting to push your chips in after this great start, but I’m just kind of stunned that *this* is what the M’s thought they needed. I don’t want to always pick at Dipoto’s trades. I don’t want to rehash the history. I just think there are a couple of things that would make this trade make sense, but neither of them are all that pleasant:
1: The M’s don’t believe in Guillermo Heredia at all or
2: The M’s recognize that they simply can’t develop starting pitchers and have essentially stopped trying, instead flipping them whenever they draw interest.


13 Responses to “M’s Trade for Denard Span/Alex Colome”

  1. Wsumojo on May 25th, 2018 5:22 pm

    I’m with you 100%. Trading starting prospects for relievers doesn’t win championships.

    So who starts for the Mariners in 2 years when Felix is toast and Paxton leaves (cuz Boras asks for $300 mil contract)?

    1 year of Leake and Gonzalez and will be 3 FA as Jerry has proven any minor keague starter with an ounce of potential gets traded for a reliever or 1 year stop gap that won’t be resigned.

  2. Sowulo on May 25th, 2018 6:22 pm

    I think it is Gamel who hasn’t got Dipoto’s trust.

  3. Sportszilla on May 25th, 2018 6:42 pm

    All the reporting I’ve seen says that Span will mostly play left. They’re not taking Heredia out.

  4. groundzero55 on May 25th, 2018 6:43 pm

    I don’t think Moore was the answer to much of anything, personally, so I’m not upset by this at all. Span will be replacing Gamel more than Heredia which is ok, and Colome is under team control through 2020.

  5. Sowulo on May 25th, 2018 6:54 pm

    I see it as the emergence of Heredia made Gamel a target. He was the weak link, so the question became where can we find a left-handed outfielder to upgrade Left field.

  6. bookbook on May 25th, 2018 7:37 pm

    Span was the salary Tampa wanted to dump. Colome e was the guy Jerry wanted to get.

    Not sure a bullpen of Díaz, Vincent, Nicasio, Cook, Paros, Altavilla, etc. is worth upgrading at the cost of starting pitching, but Colome is an upgrade.

  7. Stevemotivateir on May 25th, 2018 9:01 pm

    The timing of this helps explain it. The M’s have a difficult month of June ahead of them, so getting help now does make sense. They could reverse course at the deadline if necessary.

    Maybe I’m mistaken, but I assumed Span wasn’t acquired to take CF, but to serve as the 4th outfielder for the time being. Nicasio should be the better setup option, but he simply hasn’t been, and this move allows Servais to use Nicasio in the 5th and 6th.

    Not a sexy move by any means, but understandable, and it’s not like Moore is a front line starting pitching prospect. He’s probably a future number 5 starter.

  8. mrakbaseball on May 25th, 2018 10:33 pm

    By all accounts, the Mariners will start Span in LF on most days. Heredia will stay in CF.
    Gamel will be a backup outfielder. I have no problem with that.

  9. Stevemotivateir on May 26th, 2018 2:48 pm

    ^I didn’t see Servais’ comments until after I wrote that. I wondered about that possibility, too, but Gamel’s having a great month of May batting .302/.403/.415.

    I would argue Span should be the 4th outfielder, but I see that as a minor issue. As long as Heredia’s in center, there’s little to complain about.

  10. Stevemotivateir on May 26th, 2018 5:04 pm

    So who starts for the Mariners in 2 years when Felix is toast and Paxton leaves (cuz Boras asks for $300 mil contract)?

    Felix and his 27.858 million dollar contract will be off the books before then, Cruz will be off the books even if he’s extended a couple of years, and the money saved from those two alone would be enough to pay Paxton handsomely and another mid-rotation arm.

    You have bigger problems if you’re banking on a prospect like Moore to be a key part of your future rotation.

  11. Paul B on May 27th, 2018 9:26 am

    Is Span really better than the alternatives? I feel sorry for the rookie

  12. deflated on May 28th, 2018 9:25 am

    I don’t think anyone is counting on Moore being a key part of the rotation. What I’d like to see is enough warm bodies in the minors so there is a future for the rotation. Earlier this season the Mariners were pissing off other teams as our SP depth was so shallow that we were cancelling extended spring training games. The pool is empty right now and free agency is a miserable way to build a rotation.

  13. Tim B. on May 29th, 2018 12:17 am

    I am always glad to read Marc’s take on a trade, and I often agree with it. If this trade had occurred over the offseason, I would find myself in full agreement. Marc did point out the situation has changed due to the wild card race. But I will take it one step further: from a strategic perspective, the Mariners have depleted their farm system in an attempt to build the big league club. With that in mind, the Mariners at this stage probably ought to continue to go “all in.” At some point, the lack of prospects graduating to the big league team will hurt. And this will be felt for a long time until the plundered system is rebuilt. The piper must be paid…but if the Mariners do everything in their power to improve this year’s team, with only secondary importance placed on the future, in a sense, they will set themselves up for a full-scale rebuild from the ground up. This year, the teams that win 81+ games will find themselves in terrible draft order, and I suspect the lack of parity will continue for years to come. The Mariners will suffer all the more if they engage in a halfhearted rebuild where they attempt to win 75+ games and simultaneously attempt to restock their farm system with a #15 or #20 draft order. That would be a recipe for continued mediocrity. So for now, from a strategic perspective, it makes sense to go all in. Down the road, when the reckoning comes, when the team’s talent level is atrocious and the only hope for an 80-win team is massive expenditures in free agency, they should instead go all in on a rebuild, too, and consciously “tank.” But that’s down the road. It’s very possible the Mariners might be able to maintain a contending team for several years, and restock the farm system before the current group of cost-controlled players moves to the later stages of arbitration and free agency.

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