ASSESSING THE MARINERS’ BUSY TRADE HISTORY UNDER DIPOTO

 Bob Dutton

Bob Dutton

   SEATTLE — The initial reaction, from a quick sampling of industry sources, suggests Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto pulled off a coup last week in obtaining reliever Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span from Tampa Bay.

   The acquisitions addressed the club’s two primary needs and did so at the relatively low cost of two minor-league pitching prospects, right-handers Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero.

   “I know Jerry makes a lot of deals,” one front-office executive from a rival club said, “and not all of them work out. But here, he got two guys who should help them right away for two guys who are still at the hoping-and-wishing stage.”

   A long-time pro scout observed: “I don’t know how (Dipoto) pulled this off. Everybody knows he needed to make a deal, and that he didn’t have a major prospect to offer in return — and he still got what he needed.”

   What Dipoto did have was available payroll from the $11-plus million that became available because of Robinson Cano’s 80-game drug suspension. And in Tampa Bay, he found a cash-strapped trade partner.

   The trade provides much-needed reinforcements to a roster battered by injuries. Colome secured a save Sunday in a 3-1 victory over Minnesota that completed a three-game sweep. Span should arrive in time for Monday’s game against Texas.

   This was Dipoto’s 60th trade, involving 136 players, in his 32 months as the Mariners’ general manager. That’s just trades. It doesn’t include waiver claims or free-agent signings.

   The overall result is resoundingly positive: Even a casual glance at the roster shows the Mariners are better now, and better positioned for the future, than when Dipoto took over.

   Even so, trades often don’t work out as expected. This list of Dipoto’s 25 biggest previous trades is a mixed bag: Some major successes, a few big whiffs and a lot of shuffling that proved to have little impact.

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   Nov. 5, 2015: Acquired RHP Nate Karns, OF Boog Powell and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser from Tampa Bay for SS Brad Miller, 1B Logan Morrison and RHP Danny Farquhar.

   Impact: This was Dipoto’s first deal, and it created a stir at the time, but its impact was marginal. All three acquisitions were flipped in subsequent trades without doing much. Miller and Morrison each had one solid season at Tampa Bay, but the Mariners upgraded both positions after trading them away. Call it a small minus.

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   Nov. 16, 2015: Acquired OF Leonys Martin and RHP Anthony Bass from Texas for RHP Tom Wilhelmsen, OF James Jones and UTL Patrick Kivlehan.

   Impact: Martin filled a major hole in center field in 2016 before declining a year later. Wilhelmsen returned to the Mariners after a brief disastrous stay in Texas. The others had no impact. Overall a small plus.

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   Dec. 2, 2015: Acquired C Steve Clevenger from Baltimore for 1B/OF Mark Trumbo and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser.

   Impact: This looked like a bad trade when the Mariners made it, although it did free up some payroll. It turned into a disaster when Trumbo led the majors in homers the following year, while Clevenger went on a racist twitter rant that effectively ended his career.

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   Dec. 7, 2015: Acquired LHP Wade Miley and RHP Jonathan Aro from Boston for RHP Carson Smith and LHP Roenis Elias.

   Impact: Dipoto made this deal one day after learning right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma planned to sign a free-agent deal with the Dodgers. That deal subsequently fell through, and Iwakuma returned to the Mariners. As for the trade, none four players involved made a positive impact for their new clubs. That makes this a no-impact push, but that could change if Smith ever gets healthy or if Elias, now back in the Mariners’ system, provides a boost.

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   Dec. 9, 2015: Acquired 1B Adam Lind from Milwaukee for RHPs Carlos Herrera, Daniel Missaki and Freddy Peralta.

   Impact: This deal looked good at the time. The Mariners needed a first baseman to replace Morrison, and Lind offered much-desired power and on-base skills in exchange for three pitchers who appeared years away from the majors. It turned into a disaster that could haunt for years. Lind’s arrival coincided with a decline in production that now has him looking for work as a backup. Peralta zoomed through the Brewers’ system and is now wowing in the majors.

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   March 30, 2016: Acquired RHP Nick Vincent from San Diego for cash.

   Impact: A big plus. Vincent provided the bullpen with a reliable arm over the last two seasons and appeared to have put some early hiccups this season behind him before suffering a strained groin muscle Saturday that forced him to the disabled list.

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   June 19, 2016: Acquired RHP Zach Lee from the Los Angeles Dodgers for INF Chris Taylor.

   Impact: This deal also turned in a disaster for the Mariners, although Taylor is struggling this season after a breakout 2017. The Mariners, though, had little choice but to trade Taylor, who had developed fielding yips in addition to a noodle bat whenever given a big-league opportunity. The change of scenery apparently did wonders. Lee made the deal even worse; he was 0-9 with a 7.39 ERA in 14 starts at a Triple-A Tacoma club that won its division pennant.

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   July 20, 2016: Acquired 1B Daniel Vogelbach and LHP Paul Blackburn from the Chicago Cubs for LHP Mike Montgomery and RHP Jordan Pries.

   Impact: This deal still had to play out, but it’s not trending well for the Mariners because Vogelbach hasn’t been able to carry his minor-league success into the big leagues. Montgomery remains a solid swingman for the Cubs. Blackburn went to Oakland in a subsequent trade.

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   July 31, 2016: Acquired LHP Ariel Miranda from Baltimore for LHP Wade Miley.

   Impact: This is a small plus for the Mariners that could become a big plus if Miranda harnesses his potential and becomes a steady contributor as a swingman. Miley had to go. He never bought into the club’s defensive-shifts philosophy, and his results in Baltimore were similar to his disappointing stay with the Mariners.

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   Aug. 31, 2016: Acquired OF Ben Gamel from the New York Yankees for RHPs Jio Orozco and Juan De Paula.

   Impact: Even if Gamel now appears ticketed for backup duty, this remains a good trade at this point. Orozco and De Paula are still mired in Class A ball in the Yankees’ system.

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   Nov. 7, 2016: Acquired C Carlos Ruiz from the Los Angeles Dodgers for LHP Vidal Nuno.

   Impact: A small plus. Ruiz served as an effective veteran backup for one season, while Nuno, a versatile swingman in 1 1/2 years with the Mariners, spent much of the last two seasons in the minors. 

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   Nov. 12, 2016: Acquired 1B/OF Danny Valencia from Oakland for LHP Paul Blackburn.

   Impact: The Mariners never warmed to Valencia as their regular first baseman, which led to a deal last August to acquire Yonder Alonso. Valencia and Alonso each signed elsewhere last winter as free agents. Blackburn showed potential last season as a rookie but is currently sidelined by a strained forearm muscle. If he returns to last year’s form, this turns into another bad deal.

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   Nov. 18, 2016: Acquired LHP James Pazos from the New York Yankees for RHP Zack Littell.

   Impact: A big plus. Littell is now in the Minnesota system, and he’s shown potential in the minors, but Pazos has turned into the Mariners’ best lefty reliever.

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   Nov. 18, 2016: Acquired INFs Taylor Motter and Richie Shaffer from Tampa Bay for INF Dalton Kelly and RHPs Dylan Thompson and Andrew Kittredge.

   Impact: A slight plus because Motter, who bounced between the big leagues and Tacoma, offered roster insurance as a player capable of playing solid defense at any position until he was designated Sunday for assignment. The other four players have shown little.

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   Nov. 23, 2016: Acquired SS Jean Segura, OF Mitch Haniger and LHP Zac Curtis from Arizona for RHP Taijuan Walker and SS Ketel Marte.

   Impact: The best trade in the Dipoto era. Marte is a solid shortstop, but his overall value pales when measured against Segura. Haniger is developing into the impact middle-of-the-order bat the Mariners envisioned. Walker still has potential, but he’s currently recovering from Tommy John surgery.

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   Nov. 28, 2016: Acquired RHPs Max Povse and Rob Whalen from Atlanta for OF/C Alex Jackson and LHP Tyler Pike.

   Impact: Jackson was the sixth overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft and still has the most potential in the group. He flopped with the Mariners, but he’s been better un the Braves’ system. Whalen and Povse have each had their moments in the upper minors and could yet help the Mariners. The deal is a wash at this point.

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   Jan. 6, 2017: Acquired RHP Yovani Gallardo and OF Jarrod Dyson in what amounted to a three-way trade with Baltimore and Kansas City. The Orioles got OF Seth Smith, and the Royals got RHP Nate Karns.

   Impact: Disappointing all the way around. Smith is out of the game. Gallardo is now in the minors. Karns is battling yet another long-term injury. And Dyson is struggling at Arizona. The deal amounts to a push, but it didn’t help anyone.

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   Jan. 11, 2017: Acquired LHP Drew Smyly and RHP Shae Simmons in what amounted to a three-way trade with Tampa Bay and Atlanta. The Rays got INF Carlos Vargas and LHP Ryan Yarbrough, while the Braves got LHPs Luiz Gohara and Thomas Burrows. OF Mallex Smith went from Atlanta to Tampa Bay in the trade.

   Impact: This deal has the chance to blow up on the Mariners because of bad luck. They knew Gohara had big-time potential when they traded him, but the deal still made sense until Smyly suffered an injury in spring training that led to Tommy John surgery. Smyly missed all of last season, and then signed with the Cubs as a free agent.

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   July 20, 2017: Acquired RHP David Phelps from Miami for OF Brayan Hernandez and RHPs Pablo Lopez, Brandon Miller and Lukas Schiraldi.

   Impact: When healthy, Phelps has been the hard-throwing, late-inning option the Mariners sought in making the trade. Unfortunately, he’s been injured pretty much since he arrived. He’s currently recovering from Tommy John surgery. The jury is still out on the four players traded away, although Lopez and Schiraldi are pitching well in the minors.

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   July 21, 2017: Acquired LHP Marco Gonzalez from St. Louis for OF Tyler O’Neill.

   Impact: This has a chance to be that rare trade that actually helps both clubs. O’Neill is a legitimate power bat, while Gonzalez, in his second year back from Tommy John surgery, shows signs of being a legitimate mid-rotation starter. Tentatively, this is a push, but a good push, for both clubs.

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   July 28, 2017: Acquired RHP Erasmo Ramirez from Tampa Bay for RHP Steve Cishek.

   Impact: It’s hard to assess the deal at this point because Ramirez has missed most of the season because of injuries. When healthy, he’s a plus as a swingman. Cishek signed last winter with the Cubs and is having a solid season, but the Mariners had better available options. A potential plus.

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   Aug. 6, 2017: Acquired 1B Yonder Alonso from Oakland for OF Boog Powell.

   Impact: Alonso was a disappointment last season as a short-term rental before he signed with Cleveland as a free agent. Powell didn’t really have a spot in the Mariners’ outfield, but he played well last year in Oakland after the trade. Powell is currently recovering from a knee injury.

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   Aug. 30, 2017: Acquired RHP Mike Leake and cash from St. Louis for INF Rayder Ascanio.

   Impact: This is a clear plus for the Mariners even though Leake has been inconsistent this season. He remains an innings-eater who typically keeps the game close. That’s no small thing in today’s game, and he’s under contract through 2020 with a club option for 2021. For the Cardinals, this was a salary dump. 

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   Nov. 15, 2017: Acquired 1B Ryon Healy from Oakland for RHP Emilio Pagan and INF Alexander Campos.

   Impact: Healy is the third first baseman acquired from Oakland over the last 18 months but, unlike Valencia and Alonso, he projects as a good long-term fit. If so, that makes this a good deal. While the Mariners liked Pagan, they have others who can fill his role in the bullpen.

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   Dec. 7, 2017: Acquired 2B Dee Gordon from Miami for INF Chris Torres and RHPs Nick Neidert and Robert Dugger.

   Impact: Another big plus. Prior to his toe injury, Gordon was everything the Mariners hoped to get in the deal — a legit leadoff hitter with true speed element. He was also adapting well to the position change in center field before returning to second due to Robinson Cano’s injury/suspension. Gordon is also under contract through 2020 with a club option for 2021. Neidert was one of the Mariners’ better prospects, but he’s not a power arm and still must prove himself at the upper levels.