It Is Done

marc w · December 3, 2018 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The Cano deal was finalized, and in the end the M’s “only” sent $20 million to New York in addition to taking on the contracts of Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak. To wrap a bow on this increasingly desperate tear-down (it’s not a rebuild quite yet), the M’s have finalized a trade to send Jean Segura to Philadelphia in exchange for 1B Carlos Santana and SS JP Crawford. Jean Segura and Robinson Cano made up a great middle of the infield, and for a brief moment, the M’s had one of the best keystone combinations in the game. That’s completely done now, and at the moment, the M’s can look forward to Dee Gordon resuming the 2B position and hoping Crawford can hit the way he was supposed to instead of the way he has in Philadelphia.

With the Cano/Diaz deal, you could argue that by getting Kelenic and Dunn, the M’s didn’t hurt their return for Diaz by including Cano. That’s debatable, of course. I think there was no way the M’s were getting, say, 1B Peter Alonso in any deal, but the point is the M’s got a couple of solid prospects even with all of the financial gyrations involving Cano/Bruce. With this second blockbuster, though, all doubt is removed: the M’s clearly – CLEARLY – hurt their own return by adding Juan Nicasio to the deal, making it harder for the Phillies to add in another young player. The M’s apparently asked them to, the Phillies refused, so the M’s sent them James Pazos as well (?). I…I don’t know either, folks.

Patrick Dubuque’s article on the trade at BP talked about the novelty for M’s fans of watching a true salary dump player like Bruce. As it turns out, Bruce wasn’t the only such player the M’s would acquire this week – now they’ve got Carlos Santana, who was an attractive free agent only a year ago, but now a player the Phils were desperate to move on from. I don’t think there’s anything really wrong with either player, and you can make the case that Santana in particular is due for a bounce back. But if the point of this frenzy of activity is to bring in and identify the next successful M’s core, then all of this is counterproductive. In a desire to shed themselves of completely fair contracts (Segura’s was more than fair, and even Cano’s wasn’t any kind of albatross, as he’s still a very productive player), the M’s have taken on the salaries of OTHER, less productive players, and forgone the opportunity to add a prospect lottery ticket or two. The M’s aren’t saving much in the next couple of years, and they hurt their odds to be competitive in the years beyond that. I don’t get it.

Apparently, the M’s clubhouse’s decline rankled the M’s front office, and they’ve prioritized remaking the culture and chipping away at the 2019-20 budgets more than bringing in new talent. I’m not sure there’s any other way to spin this. Even if you buy the premise that the M’s couldn’t win without a massive change in that culture, that seems like a slap in the face to the coaching staff, who are theoretically tasked with building/shaping a culture, and not-at-all-theoretically need to share the blame if 2018 was more toxic than we’d heard.

JP Crawford was a first-rounder in 2013, and was a potential target for the M’s. He’s a great defender, and had very good bat-to-ball skills, but his power was, shall we say, developing. In the minors, he showed a keen batting eye and limited Ks; pair that with his defense at SS, and he became a top-20 prospect in the game. He began 2017 in a huge slump, but turned it around enough to make his MLB debut. The Phils essentially gave him the starting job this past year, but he again kicked off the year by falling apart at the plate. He went on the DL, came back, and then broke his hand, so he doesn’t have much of a big league track record.

The one thing that jumps off his stats page is that his K rate has skyrocketed in his limited MLB duty. He can still take a walk, and he still plays SS, but the whole bat-to-ball thing…it hasn’t translated. M’s fans know a bit about this phenomenon from watching the travails of Dan Vogelbach, who maintains solid K rates and hits for average in the minors, then comes north and strikes out a ton. Crawford’s just 23 and is still a premium talent, but for a big-league-ready youngster, there’s more risk here than you’d like. He’s more than capable of making adjustments, and it sounds like part of the problem with the Phillies was that people were constantly tweaking his swing. The M’s could get a very Segura-like player, or Segura-plus-OBP if everything breaks right, but given everything that’s happened over the past 72 hours, they NEED everything to break right. There’s no plan B here; the M’s don’t really have any SS prospects above the Dominican League.


13 Responses to “It Is Done”

  1. Westside guy on December 3rd, 2018 5:50 pm

    Yeah, I’m certainly not an expert but the Segura trade looks bad. Only thing I can think of is if the league in general sees him as a toxic presence, but other than the one late season fight it’s certainly not something we’ve been hearing from the media – the dude ain’t no Milton Bradley.

  2. 3cardmonty on December 3rd, 2018 8:10 pm

    Another underwhelming return. Three of our four best trade chips gone now, with not enough coming back for any of them. This is the worst one yet.

  3. williebfan on December 3rd, 2018 8:25 pm

    Not sure why Cano is put on such a pedestal. He did nothing for this team while he was here. On paper, productive. Otherwise, a big nothing. M’s played their best ball last season when he wasn’t playing and he did nothing to slop the decline when he returned. He’s quite a lazy, disinterested player to anyone watching the game. Glad he’s gone at any price. He was a cancer left over from Jack Z.

    Stats can be analyzed from this perspective but no one knows the impact a player has on the team’s chemistry like those on the inside. I trust Jerry for now. Let’s see how it goes.

  4. MrZDevotee on December 3rd, 2018 8:56 pm

    I… Uh… Disagree. Everyone I’m reading, in the prospect world, thinks the prospects we’ve gotten are solid, solid guys with great upside. Bringing back guys immediately useful and ready to hit their prime is just not very smart at this point- and shouldn’t be expected. So gaining prospects, and freeing up salary are all the right moves to me, at this point.

    And as to freeing up salary, Santana, Bruce, and Swarzak are “less talented” but also not going to be here very long, if we’re honest, and easy to flip into more prospects. Santana and Bruce are exactly the kind of coin-toss/bounce back guys that anyone not in on the top free agents, or going cheap, will be happy to pick up when the Hot Stove season is fading (especially if we throw in a few $$$’s)… Basically, DiPoto is setting himself up to “buy” prospects, rather than over-priced free agents. Kind of a stack-the-farm-system version of Billy Ball.

    Heck, by the time we’re ready to do real work again we can probably bring back Segura if Crawford doesn’t work out (Philly will likely be in sell mode by then). 3-4 years from now is when we’ll finally be in a position to buy into some players to fill out our roster, but not now.

    The good news is– Healy and/or Santana won’t be here by Spring, Bruce will likely be gone too (though a bit harder to pull off)… Leake, maybe even Dee Gordon. I’m trying to ignore the obvious about Haniger’s days being numbered… (Nobody but DiPoto thought he was anything when he showed up as a side piece, remember that?)…

    I don’t think DiPoto is going to put us through the hell of watching guys like Mike Sweeney, Milton Bradley, and Casey Kotchman try to do magic tricks and entertain us by pulling rabbits/wins out of their hats. At least I HOPE he’s smarter than that.

    This is how it works. We should at least TRY to enjoy it.

    CF Jarred Kelenic, C Omar Narvaez, RHP Justin Dunn, SS J.P. Crawford, CF Mallex Smith, OF Dom Thompson-Williams (nobody’s talking about him– breakout guy in the Yanks minors last year… their minor league batter of the year)… OF Jake Fraley (another non-mention while voted best outfielder in the Ray’s organization, and voted most likely to reach the bigs first from their 2016 draft class– speed, and plus-plus defense)…

    This is fun to me. The path we were on wasn’t doing it… Time to reset and try a different approach– the approach we would have taken all along if DiPoto didn’t inherit a team with a vacant/dysfunctional farm system, and a bunch of high priced stars on its roster when he got here.

  5. LongDistance on December 3rd, 2018 10:36 pm

    Z: probably not too surprisingly, I agree with you. I’d rather watch a work in progress, than another year of a cobbled together dog’s dinner. Cano, sure… he might be the difference between being in the playoffs or not. But only if the team was a real playoff team. Jack’s Hail Mary fell into the void two year’s ago, IMO. As for Diaz… I’m actually glad. For him.

  6. 3cardmonty on December 4th, 2018 12:16 am

    I agree that it was time rebuild/retool/reboot/recalibrate/whatever. I totally get why Cano and Segura and Diaz and Paxton all needed to be moved this winter. But the execution has been shite. Dipoto got rolled by the Yankees and the Phillies. He could’ve gotten better packages out of both of those deals, especially for Segura. And tying Diaz to Cano is still baffling to me. Why dilute the value of one of your best chips like that? To say nothing of, who is going to develop all these prospects, exactly? The current regime? I won’t hold my breath.

  7. ck on December 4th, 2018 8:48 am
  8. qwerty on December 4th, 2018 1:29 pm

    Question for the masses:
    do we have anything including Santana or Bruce that can secure us a quality catching prospect like Kninzer or ?blank?.

  9. Westside guy on December 4th, 2018 1:49 pm

    On the plus side, 2019 will be a good year to pick up an MiLB subscription! Maybe moreso than the MLB one… (of course T-Mobile gives a lot of us MLB for free, so…)

  10. Stevemotivateir on December 4th, 2018 7:44 pm

    Bruce and Santana will be off the books following the 2020 season, if they’re not moved before then. Free agency will get interesting at that same time and several of the top prospects will start graduating around then as well.

    I don’t have a problem with the concept. I just question if the returns were enough.

  11. harry on December 4th, 2018 11:26 pm

    Sort of entirely disagree with this post. Kelenic, Crawford, Sheffield, Dunn, Swanson, Thompson-Williams… they’ve basically moved their old top six prospects down six places.

    The Mariners were trapped in a world of a top-third payroll where their only reasonable chance for a playoff spot was a second wildcard: no division win with the Astros right now, and with 1st WC going to either NY or Boston, that’s it. How much should they go all-in for a chance at a single game elimination?

    Sell everyone for prospects, and buy-low veterans that can do a couple things: actually allow you to field a team; and who can bounce-back, to be made available for midseason trades, if any of them manage to increase their value.

    Dipoto gave it a good “win now” attempt, and with the way the landscape has changed, he’s doing the right thing.

  12. MrZDevotee on December 5th, 2018 8:00 am

    Man, reading up on Kelenic, true diehard Mets fans are PISSED… There’s a beautiful video of him taking BP as an 17 year old at the Under Armour All-American game at Wrigley Field last year…

    17 years old in that!

    SWEET swing at that age… Really beautiful… Swings easy, and super quick… Looks like a cross between Trout and Harper at the plate– quick like Harper, but super still and precise like Trout. Seriously. With plus defense too.

    As a 19 year old, straight out of high school, he hit over .600 in his first taste of pro ball… Got moved up, and hit mid .300’s, after initially struggling… His first 2 1/2 months, as a 19 year old draftee, he moved up from NOT rated as a prospect, to #62 overall.

    Seriously, find some video… This kid rakes. (The Mariners actually had him rated #1 overall in last years draft– he went #6)

    It’s funny to see the flip side of the trade– diehard Mets beat writers crying about giving up Kelenic for Cano. Gotta love baseball.

  13. MrZDevotee on December 5th, 2018 12:45 pm

    Found it again– this is the article I got most of that info from…

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