Right on the heels of a humiliating Safeco Field sweep at the hands of Alex Rodriguez‘s New York Yankees, Jack Zduriencik decided to tweak his Seattle Mariners team. A tweak was to be expected – this is, after all, a team that has followed an encouraging three-week stretch by starting the season’s longest homestand 1-6 against Cleveland and New York. But most people were expecting a small tweak. Not this. Not this at all.
The Seattle Mariners have acquired DH Mark Trumbo and LHP Vidal Nuno from the Arizona Diamondbacks. They’ve agreed to part with C Welington Castillo, LHP Dominic Leone, IF Jack Reinheimer, and OF Gabby Guerrero, which should give Arizona the catcher they’ve been looking for. And a talented young reliever. And two nice prospects. In exchange for, well, you know, classic Mariners types.
Trumbo is the most Mariners Mariner there’s ever been. Hits the ball hard, never gets on base, can’t play defense. He’s overpriced, overplayed, and exactly the type of guy who the M’s have overvalued throughout the Jack Z era. He comes with the illusion of being able to play many positions, when in reality he is a DH. What, you’ve noticed that the Mariners are always loaded with these guys? I’ve noticed that, too!
Most people – no seriously, most people – must have figured that Trumbo would be a Mariner sooner or later, given the kind of player he is. While it’s by no means a thrilling acquisition, it’s at least one we shuldn’t be too upset with. It was bound to happen. Why bother getting worked up about it? Not like they gave up a huge package or anything.
Except the package they gave up, while also unexciting, is the kind that could easily come back to haunt them down the line. Castillo hadn’t yet started to hit for the M’s, but it was so recently that we were praising the team for acquiring him. He hadn’t really yet had a chance to contribute, but it seemed likely that he would help the team if given the chance. He’s under control for a while, too, and has been a well above-average player in the recent past. To flip him for a two-year rental is questionable.
Not that Castillo was free – he cost the team Yoervis Medina, a young reliever with closer upside. You know who else is a young releiver with closer upside? Dominic Leone, who’s also quickly fallen out of the organization’s favor and been shipped out of town. Those two were struggling, but the M’s gave up on them awful quickly. With Medina it made some sense – dude never throws strikes. But Leone’s struggles seemed imminently fixable. He’s better than Medina, too. Weird to see him gone so soon.
The two big league pieces in the deal were questionable, if a little bit understandable. The same can be said of the two minor leaguers, who aren’t top 100 prospects or anything but are still fairly exciting. Guerrero, in particular, is a guy who has prospects crowds split. He’s a toolsy guy who hasn’t hit a ton in the minors, but has consistently ranked as one of the organization’s top fifteen prospects.
The Vladmir Guerrero comparisons aren’t entirely familial, as Gabby displays his uncle’s famed aggressiveness at the plate. He’s a classic high-risk, high-reward type who could easily be a MLB regular… if he makes significant changes to his plate discipline. That probably won’t happen, as is always the case, but the non-zero odds made him a guy many wanted to hold onto. Myself included. To me, this is the biggest piece the Mariners gave up.
Reinheimer is a defense-first middle infielder who can pick it at short but struggles to make hard contact. He’s been doing okay at AA so far, and usually comes in in the fifteen-twenty range on M’s prospect lists. How you feel about Reinheimer is probably the same as you feel about Chris Taylor, whether you know it or not. They’re pretty similar, though Taylor’s a better hitter. He’s no huge loss, though some people are high on him.
It’s a package of tantalizing players who probably won’t become anything, but they were used to acquire two guys who already are nothing. Trumbo’s still slated to make almost $5 million throughout the rest of this season, and power gets paid in arbitration. He’s only around for one more year, and it should probably be an expensive one. The M’s are spending money and losing years of team control in this trade.
Nuno is the guy we haven’t talked about yet, though he’s the key to the whole deal. As a starter with the Yankees last year, he was bad. As a starter with the Diamondbacks last year, he was bad. But after opening the year in the minors, he was called up to pitch in relief recently and has been good. He’s apparently going to be pithing out of the M’s rotation to start things off, which is a shame since he’s less exciting than the now-displaced Mike Montgomery. When James Paxton comes back, he’s likely heading to the bullpen, which is good. That’s where he profiles best, after all.
Weird trade. Very expected, but weird. The M’s are now committed to one or both of Trumbo and Nelson Cruz in the outfield corners any given night, and it’s just so frustrating to see this team time and time again make themselves less defensively flexible by means of addition. Adding to the pile of no-glove types lets the team use their bats at different positions, at the cost of defensive value everywhere. It’s a stupid strategy, and one that the M’s keep trying despite repeated evidence that this just does not work.
A new swingman and a new middle-of-the-order thumper. It’s more or less what the team was looking for, though at the cost of two quasi-exciting prospects, a quality backup catcher, and a potential late-innings reliever it’s a questionable deal. The total dollars/team control imbalance probably swings this one in Arizona’s favor, and we haven’t even mentioned that Jesus Sucre is going back to the major leagues. The M’s might have filled a need and gotten a toy they wanted, but it doesn’t really look like they got any better. Which is oh so very Mariners.