With Montgomery already gone, the Mariners are surely sellers at this year’s Trade Deadline. And that might not be all bad.
When the Mariners started the season in first place in the A.L. West, GM Jerry Dipoto made it clear to the fans that if they were in that position when the deadline came, that they would be “all in.” At just past the All-Star break and midway point of the season, the Mariners are now sellers. The trade deadline is just a week and a half away, (August 1st) and it looks like the Mariners have now officially made their intentions clear by trading Mike Montgomery to the Chicago Cubs for three prospects.
While it is just one move, the writing was already on the wall. The Mariners could not afford to become “buyers” at the deadline unless they were still in first place.
With the wildcard format expanding to include five playoff teams in each league, there’s still a decent chance the M’s could make it. In fact, they are only a game and a half behind the Tigers and a few other teams for that fifth and final spot. Most casual fans see that fact alone and feel that the Mariners should be buyers, but let’s take a close look at the consequences.
Making trades at the deadline is risky business to say the least. The Kansas City Royals might be the best example for both why you should or shouldn’t make big deals at the deadline. At the start of the 2014 season, the Royals were an up and coming team, but not really on everyone’s radar as of yet. Their farm system ranked seventh in the MLB by Keith Law at the start of the season. Most baseball fans know what happened next, they made a few minor deadline deals, but fell just 90 feet short of becoming 2014 World Series champs to the San Francisco Giants. The Royals began 2015 with the 15th ranked farm system, but this time made a big splash when the deadline came around, picking up both Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist. The move certainly paid off as the Royals eventually won the World Series.
Kansas City Royals Farm System Rankings: 2014 – 7th, 2015 – 15th, 2016 – 22nd
The Royals started 2016 with the 22nd ranked farm system in all of baseball. I’m not arguing that it wasn’t worth it. As I stated before, it paid off. However, for every 2015 Royals there are five or more teams that make big trades at the deadline every season, only to fall short. Could the Seattle Mariners afford to make a deal or two this season? The Mariners have the 28th ranked farm system in baseball; only the Marlins and Angels were ranked lower. The cost of renting a pitcher, say Julio Teheren, or a fielder of Zobrist’s caliber, could push the Mariners back behind the Angels, who have been described by Law as having the “worst farm system he has ever seen.”
If you’re still not convinced, it’s probably because you’re thinking that we could possibly make a deal similar to what the Rangers made for Cole Hamels, or the Blue Jays made for Troy Tulowitzki last season. You know, a deal that could help the future of the team, not just a three-month rental.
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Think again; deals to trade for a front line starter or everyday player for more than just the remainder of the season are much more expensive. The Rangers gave up six prospects in order to acquire Jake Diekman and Cole Hamels last season. And Tulowitzki? You’ve probably heard that Jose Reyes was part of that deal, but so were three pitching prospects sent by the Blue Jays to complete the trade.
So, knowing what you know now, should the Mariners risk it? They absolutely can not afford to in my opinion. The 2016 Seattle Mariners have been an exciting team to watch. Today, they got their sixth walkoff home run of the season and defeated the White Sox 6-5.
There’s a chance the Mariners could even make it to a one-game playoff. Realistically though, the M’s are more than just one piece short of contending. I’m sorry to say that they are most certainly sellers once again this season.
By Collin Ferguson, Writer at Collin-Ferguson.com & EmeraldCitySwagger.com