Game 105, Mariners at Yankees: Trade Deadline Round-Up

marc w · August 2, 2022 at 4:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Logan Gilbert vs. Jameson Taillon, 4:05pm

Ooookay, it’s been a day. Juan Soto ends up in San Diego in what may be an unprecedented move. The Reds finish off their down-to-the-studs-remodel by moving Tyler Mahle and Brandon Drury, and our Mariners made a series of minor but potentially helpful moves.

Let’s get to the M’s moves first. One of the big needs has been a lefty reliever. Ryan Borucki’s M’s career started off quite well, but he’s been shakier recently, and he remains a guy worth below replacement level since 2018. Would the M’s get Matt Moore, or pry Joe Mantiply away from Arizona? Well, no, but they do get an intriguing buy-low guy in Mercer Island’s own Matthew Boyd, the former Tigers starter. He’s been out the whole season with a shoulder problem, but just threw a 40-pitch simulated game with the Giants, his just-barely-former team. He may not be ready right away, but he could impact the race in September.

Not done with injured Giants (and I seriously want to know the record number of transactions between two teams during one season), the M’s also picked up rehabbing catcher, Curt Casali. Casali is definitely a glove-first guy, with a career slash of .227/.316/.398, but that’s a solid back-up addition to the club now that it’s become clear that whatever magic was in Luis Torrens’ bat is well and truly gone. Torrens was sort of interesting as a developing DH last year, but a bat-first C with no bat is not rosterable for a playoff team.

The return for these two players are some non-40-man minor prospects. Namely, RP Michael Stryffeler, who posted gaudy K rates for AA Arkansas, and was just called up to Tacoma, and C Andy Thomas, a 2021 draft pick playing for Everett. Like Thomas, Casali has a good eye, and could at least help out drawing walks. He’s also not all that bad against left-handed pitching. Unfortunately, that’s Raleigh’s better side, too. In any event, this is not much to give up, but there are clearly red flags with both new M’s, starting of course with the fact that both are currently hurt.

Just now, the M’s added another local kid, picking up Jake Lamb from the Dodgers in exchange for cash money ducats. Lamb was great for the Diamondbacks in 2016-2017, but fell hard as his BABIP cratered. Interestingly, Lamb’s production fell spectacularly against fastballs during those lean years. From 2018 to 2021, Lamb *slugged* .339, .333, .311, and .329 against fastballs, during some of the best fastball-slugging conditions the game has ever seen. His production on them this year isn’t back to his heyday level, but he’s slugging .429 off of them in something of a pitcher’s park. This is a low-risk move that might enable them to play match-ups late in games. He’s been strictly platooned this year, and so expect he would only ever face right-handed pitchers.

None of these moves are big, but I’ll give them credit: they address important areas of need. I’m not sure they address the *biggest* area of need, namely, that this team really needs to score a lot more runs. But the M’s weren’t in on Juan Soto, and so they decided to improve at the margins, but on three different margins at once. The M’s decided not to try and close the gap between themselves and the Yankees/Astros all at once, and as much as Soto would’ve been great, I kind of understand it. They DID take the opportunity to swing some very low risk moves to fix longstanding problems, and thus they chip away at those gaps. It’s been said a lot today, but given Luis Castillo’s club control, the M’s simply have to go all-in for 2023. This year is great, and they’re in a very real playoff fight right now. That’s cool. It’s also possible they won’t even get to play a playoff game in Seattle, and come up short against HOU/NYY in any event. Anything can happen in a short series of course, but this year is a fun lottery ticket. Next year, they *have* to be a great team. That means they simply cannot miss out on some of the free agent bats. Aaron Judge headlines the class, and he’ll get offers from everyone, but the M’s need to identify and *sign* a few bats. Not “be in on” or “had conversations regarding,” but putting-a-hat-on-at-a-press-conference.

Juan Soto was traded after all. The Padres moved a huge package headlined with MLB-level rookies like MacKenzie Gore and CJ Abrams and also a few of the Padres biggest prospects, namely Robert Hassell III and James Wood. They initially tried to include Eric Hosmer, but Hosmer blocked the deal, so the Pads threw in Luke Voit, while Boston swooped in for Hosmer. Juan Soto is 23 years old, under club control through the 2024 season, and has a career .427 OBP in about 2,500 PAs. He’s been a superstar since he was 19. Given the value the game currently places on elite talent *and* club control, Soto is probably the most valuable trade chip we’ve ever seen. Chris Crawford pondered if this was the biggest trade in baseball history, and of course your mileage may vary depending on how you define “biggest.” I loved the reply from Michael Baumann, who said it was the “biggest non-NBA trade of the 21st century.” I think that’s incontrovertibly true, and also goes to something pretty important. In the NBA’s salary cap era, players have a lot of leverage to demand trades because contract value can’t really differentiate teams – fit, winning chances, coaches, etc. all come to the fore in a way they don’t in baseball. Instead, in baseball, the young, cost-controlled star are what teams covet most. The entire economics of the game elevates them: they can’t leave, you pay a fraction of what they produce and a fraction of what you’d be a free agent. The salary structure essentially makes them absurdly underpaid and thus obscenely valuable. That is to say: the entire structure is set up so deals like this *can’t happen.* A youngster at the end of arb, or like Castillo, a year and a bit? Sure, maybe so. But players this transcendent don’t get traded much, and never so early. It’s possible that analysts saying he’s the reincarnation of Ted Williams are a tad hyperbolic (or not?), but it is not hyperbolic to say that this trade is pretty much sui generis.*

The Yankees aren’t done either, so I figure there are a lot of taxis heading to and from the stadium today. After picking up Frankie Montas, the Yankees just traded one of their remaining starters, Jordan Montgomery, to St. Louis for CF Harrison Bader. This is…perplexing, and it’s possible we’ll need an hour and another move or two to make sense of it. Bader is a good defender whose offense has backed up a bit this season, and he’s also on the IL with an injured foot. Montgomery’s been a solid back-of-the-rotation arm, with an ERA under 4 in 21 starts. He wasn’t scheduled to face the M’s this series. Are they going for Pablo Lopez? Carlos Rodon? We’ll see I guess.

1: Frazier, RF
2: Winker, LF
3: Suarez, 3B
4: Santana, 1B
5: Crawford, SS
6: Lewis, DH
7: Raleigh, C
8: Kelenic, CF
9: Toro, 2B
SP: Gilbert

The M’s weak line-up was exposed in yesterday’s game, as German was wild, but didn’t allow the M’s to take advantage of some base runners. It’s not surprising when you look at some of the slash lines the M’s are putting up. I feel legitimately bad for Jarred Kelenic, thrust back up to the majors in perhaps more pressure than he’s ever had to deal with (that’s debatable, of course) against two great pitching teams. But it is beyond worrying at this point that he doesn’t seem to be turning any corners. His failure to launch both made a potential Juan Soto add more valuable and simultaneously less likely, as a decent version of Kelenic is exactly the kind of young, MLB-level player the Nats were looking for in return. But as I’ve said, his trade value – even a year removed from being a top-10 prospect in baseball – is just not high enough to risk it.

After this series, the M’s host the Angels, who are busy selling off non-Ohtani players. Closer Raisel Iglesias is off to Atlanta, and Brandon Marsh is now a Philly.

* – I don’t think it’s quite the same, but one that would rival it is the one this blog spent years pooh-poohing: the very common idea among fans/writers that the M’s should trade young King Felix before he got expensive. That, of course, never happened. The A-Rod trade is another one mentioned as similar in importance, but it came long after Rodriguez signed that at-the-time-incredible contract with the Rangers, and he was going into his age-28 season. It was an in-his-prime star, and perhaps a bigger star with a longer track record than Soto, but the real comparison would be if the M’s had flipped A-Rod in 1998 or something.


7 Responses to “Game 105, Mariners at Yankees: Trade Deadline Round-Up”

  1. Stevemotivateir on August 2nd, 2022 7:10 pm

    Casali is kind of interesting. Apart from hitting lefties, as Marc pointed out, he’s also hit will with runners on (134 wRC+).

    I don’t hate these moves, but we learned where the limits were.

    One thing’s for sure, they absolutely have to go all-in this offseason.

  2. Stevemotivateir on August 2nd, 2022 8:03 pm

    So, they got the win and go for the series win behind Castillo tomorrow.

    Not a bad Tuesday in early August.

  3. Westside guy on August 2nd, 2022 8:34 pm

    Boy, I’m happy they won – but I made a mistake afterward by looking at the box score on

    They include the players’ OPS on the box score. You really don’t want to see the Yankees’ OPS printed alongside that of the current (non-injured) team the Mariners put on the field tonight…

  4. MKT on August 3rd, 2022 12:48 pm

    “You really don’t want to see the Yankees’ OPS printed alongside that of the current (non-injured) team the Mariners put on the field tonight…”

    Correct, but the Ms have been managing to stay in reasonably good shape for the wildcards. The announcers said, correctly IMO, that if the Ms could win 6 or 7 games out of this tough 13 game stretch of Hou-Tex-Hou-NYY, that’d be a decent performance, keeping them in contention for the #1 wild car spot.

    The Ms have lost 7 of the 9 games so far to Hou and NY, but hey we all know they’re not as good as either of those teams, and they’ve managed to be in a sport where a win today gets them that benchmark 6th win. (They’re down 7-3 in the 8th as I write this, but well the Astros and Yankees are tough teams.)

    It was a tall order but not impossible for the Ms to win today. And it’s a tall order but not impossible for them to overtake the Blue Jays for the top wildcard spot.

    It’s not a super-great situation for the Ms, but it’s not bad, they have a good chance of getting a wildcard spot even if it’s not the coveted #1 spot.

    And 2022 was always IMO a year early for the Ms to truly be expected to contend. But here we are, and with a good base for next year (but to be sure, DiPoto needs to do additional work filling holes before 2023).

  5. Westside guy on August 3rd, 2022 12:53 pm

    Uh… they are UP 7-3 – they’re winning!

    Also, Castillo has been as good as advertized.

  6. MKT on August 3rd, 2022 1:32 pm

    Whoops you’re right, I was reading the “crawl” or whatever it’s called backwards! Go Ms!

    I think this was as tough a stretch of games as the Ms have for the rest of the season, so to win 6 out of 13 is good work. And yes I know half of those came against the Rangers, but 6 wins is 6 wins.

  7. eponymous coward on August 5th, 2022 12:15 pm

    Fun facts:

    The M’s have 18 games remaining against teams above .500, and 31 games against teams below .425.

    The M’s will not play a game against a team that is above .500 (as of today) after September 14 (their last 20 games are against LA, OAK, TEX, KC and DET).

    Conversely, Toronto plays in a division where the last-place team is bouncing around .500 (the Red Sox). Their late schedule isn’t impossible but it does have +.500 teams in it (Tampa and Toronto will play each other 9 times from September 12 to September 25).

    Basically, if this team takes care of business against the dregs of the AL/NL and doesn’t tank their seven Guardians games, they’re in very good position to be the #1 WC.

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