For most of us, our favorite days of the year are, in some order, our birthdays, the birthdays and anniversaries of loved ones, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. For Seattle Mariners GM, Jerry Dipoto, the MLB trade deadline factors into the favorite day pantheon prominently.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), for Dipoto, this year’s deadline had no urgency to buy and little left in the cupboard to sell. But, as you might expect, scarcity of assets never stops Dipoto from making deals. It’s what he does. Let’s take a brief look at how the trade deadline shook out in Seattle.
Heading out the Door
The most recognizable name exiting the Emerald City on Wednesday was starting pitcher Mike Leake. The 31-year-old righty is heading to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for infield prospect Jose Caballero. Leake is in the fourth year of a five-year $80MM deal. Reportedly the Diamondbacks will only be paying $6MM of the remainder of the contract and presumably the St. Louis Cardinals will continue paying the agreed upon dollar figure that sent Leake to Seattle in the first place.
In 22 starts this season, Leake has pitched to a 4.27 ERA and a 9-8 record while adding 2.0 Baseball Reference WAR. It’s worth noting that Leake, in the spacious environs of T-Mobile Park, has recorded a 3.01 ERA, whereas on the road he’s been far less effective with a 5.80 ERA. This may play well for the Diamondbacks as four of the five parks in their division (Arizona, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco are all more pitcher friendly than Seattle. Obviously, Colorado stands out as the most hitter friendly park in all of baseball, not just the NL West.
Reliever Roenis Elias is headed to the nation’s capital for Elvis Alvarado and Taylor Guilbeau in order to try and shore up the horrendous Washington Nationals bullpen. This season for the Mariners, Elias has appeared in 44 games, collected 14 saves, and has compiled a 4.40 ERA while striking out 45 batters in 47.0 innings. While Elias’s contract is more than palatable at $910K, he is out of options and is arbitration eligible after next season.
Also headed to DC in a three-way deal with the Toronto Blue Jays is reliever Hunter Strickland in exchange for Aaron Fletcher. The soon to be thirty-one-year-old probably wouldn’t have fit into Dipoto’s youth movement. Also, with just 6.1 innings pitched this season between AAA Tacoma and Seattle, getting off Strickland’s $1.8MM contract makes sense. For the Nationals, any shot of contending is going to be contingent on a competent bullpen in August and September.
From the Diamondbacks
In the Mike Leake deal, the Mariners acquired soon to be 23-year-old Jose Caballero, an infielder who can play 2B, SS, and 3B. Caballero was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 7th round of the 2017 Amateur Draft. In three seasons between rookie ball and A+, he has hit .292/.381/.447 with 49 stolen bases.
From the Nationals
In exchange for Roenis Elias, the Mariners took back Elvis Alvarado and Taylor Guilbeau from the Nationals. Alvarado is listed as a RP/OF, an odd combination, but Baseball Reference only has stat lines from his time at the plate. Guilbeau is a lefty pitcher, fairly close to the majors, as he had advanced to AAA in the Nationals farm system.
One can only hope that Alvarado pitches better than he hits. In 173 PA in rookie ball, he has a slash line of .139/.199/.228. As for Guilbeau, he was drafted in the 39th round of the 2011 Amateur Draft by the New York Yankees and in five minor league seasons at various levels has pitched to a 4.05 ERA in 342 innings. If everything pans out, Guilbeau could be essentially a slightly older Elias replacement but with more years of control.
In the Hunter Strickland deal, the Mariners picked up 23-year-old left-handed relief pitcher Aaron Fletcher. Drafted by the Nats in the 14th round of the 2018 Amateur Draft, he has advanced quickly within the Nationals organization, pitching in the Sally League, A+, and AA this year. In 91 innings in the minors, Strickland has struck out 103 hitters in just 91.1 innings while tossing to a 2.96 ERA.
No Waiver Deadline
July 31st was it for this season. The hard trade deadline was implemented with no chance now to move players through waivers and off to another team in August. So at least for the 2019 season, Jerry Dipoto’s wheeling and dealing is over. With most of the players just revently acquired, it will be a few years before Mariners fans know how successful their GM was on Wednesday.