Grading The 2023 Seattle Mariners At The Trade Deadline – Did They Improve?

Seattle Mariners fans were hoping that at the trade deadline, President Jerry Dipoto would make some moves to vault them into playoff contention. Before the trade deadline on August 1st, the Mariners were within shouting distance of the Wild Card spot, 4.5 games behind. The Los Angeles Angels were the first team to go on the offensive by acquiring Lucas Giolito from the White Sox, which started a flurry of moves around the league. In my last column, I pointed out three great candidates for the Mariners to go after if they wanted to sneak back into the playoffs. Jonathan India was the one that didn’t get moved, primarily due to injury. However, Jeimer Candelario and CJ Cron were both moved at the deadline. Sensing the Mariners weren’t going to be able to compete with the Angels, who were also in the Wild Card race, they went into sell-and-save mode. Let’s review the moves that the Mariners made this trade deadline.

DFA’d Kolten Wong

In a not-so-surprising move, the Seattle Mariners have designated second baseman Kolten Wong for assignment after a dismal season. The 32-year-old infielder’s offensive performance has been a significant letdown, batting a paltry .165/.241/.227 in 2023, well below the league average. With subpar defense, Wong’s value plummeted to -1.0 fWAR in 67 games with Seattle. However, before this rough patch, he had been a solid contributor during his nine-year tenure at second base with the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers. The Mariners will now turn to other options like Dylan Moore and Josh Rojas at second base.

Sent: Logan Rinehart, RP,  to the Baltimore Orioles

Acquired: Eduard Bazardo, RP

Bazardo, who saw limited action in the Majors during the last three seasons, brings intriguing bullpen depth to the Mariners. Both the Red Sox and Orioles had previously designated him for assignment. Still, he’s shown promise in the minors with a 3.05 ERA, 27.2% strikeout rate, and 7% walk rate in 38 1/3 frames with the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate this year. Meanwhile, Rinehart, a 16th-round pick by the Mariners in 2019, faced setbacks due to injury but has been impressive as a reliever, recording a 2.84 ERA, 51.2% grounder rate, and 33.6% strikeout rate in high-A. The trade comes as the Mariners seek to bolster their pitching staff following Paul Sewald’s departure.

Sent: AJ Pollock (OF), Mark Mathias (UTIL), to the San Francisco Giants

Acquired: Player To Be Named Later, and cash

The Giants were searching for right-handed hitting, and while this trade adds two righty bats, it might not guarantee a significant offensive upgrade. Mathias, claimed off waivers from the Pirates earlier this month, offers versatility across the diamond but has mainly played second and third base. Despite not having a lengthy stint in the majors, his .249/.323/.402 slash line in 68 career games suggests potential as a valuable utility player. On the other hand, the veteran Pollock has struggled this season, hitting just .173/.225/.323 in 138 plate appearances.

Sent: Paul Sewald, CP to the Arizona Diamondbacks

Acquired: Josh Rojas (UTIL), Dominic Canzone (OF), and Ryan Bliss (RP)

Sewald has been outstanding for the Mariners, maintaining a 2.88 ERA over 171 2/3 innings and boasting an impressive strikeout rate. He will likely take over the closer role for the Diamondbacks. The Mariners, looking to bolster their hitting talent, gain Rojas, who has utility experience, and Canzone, a left-handed hitting outfielder with strong Triple-A numbers. Bliss, a promising second baseman, also joins Seattle’s farm system. This trade addresses the needs of both teams, providing Arizona with a reliable bullpen arm and giving Seattle a chance to improve their hitting depth while remaining competitive this season.

Sent: Mason McCoy (SS) to the Toronto Blue Jays

Acquired: Trent Thornton (RP)

Thornton, who came to the Blue Jays in 2018, has shifted from a starting role to a relief position and has logged a 4.31 ERA with a 22% strikeout rate in the big leagues since 2021. He’ll initially report to Triple-A Tacoma for the Mariners. On the other hand, McCoy was traded to the Mariners in 2022 and has played for Triple-A Tacoma, showing some power but also a high strikeout rate. Despite his offensive struggles, McCoy brings defensive versatility and base-stealing ability. If not added to Toronto’s 40-man roster, he’ll be eligible for minor league free agency at the end of the season.

Overall Grade: B

If you’re grading them based on selling at the deadline, at a minimum, they have acquired assets to gear them up for 2024. At the beginning of the season, Pollock was an obvious flip, signing that one-year deal. While everyone in the Mariners organization can agree trade asset-wise and player performance-wise that they wish he did better, they’ll at least get something back. DFA’ing Kolten Wong was also the right move, considering he was practically the worst hitter in the league that couldn’t defend anymore. Trading Sewald does hurt, but the bullpen has more than enough arms to make up for his production. They also acquired a couple of relievers, giving them that flexibility from the bullpen going forward. Also, be on the lookout for Josh Rojas. While his numbers don’t look great this year, he does have a knack for plate discipline. The Mariners can use him at basically every position other than catcher, so he’s worth keeping on the team.

Once the Angels pulled Shohei Ohtani off the market, it was clear they would do everything they could to make a playoff push, thus thrusting the Mariners out of contention. As much as we’re bummed out by them not going for the playoffs this year, I am pleased with the transactions they made at the deadline.