SEATTLE — It remains to be seen whether the Mariners’ many in-season trades provide the boost necessary to end a 16-year postseason drought. (The current trend isn’t encouraging, but roughly one-third of the season remains.)
What is notable, though, is that a much-maligned farm system provided sufficient depth to enable general manager Jerry Dipoto to add six veterans without sacrificing any of the club’s top prospects.
Let’s review the moves:
***The dealing started May 25 — shortly after Robinson Cano received an 80-game suspension for a drug-policy violation — when the Mariners obtained reliever Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span from Tampa Bay for pitchers Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero.
***Dipoto then initiated a hard push just prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline by getting reliever Sam Tuivailala from St. Louis in a July 27 deal for reliever Seth Elledge.
***On July 30, the Mariners added reliever Adam Warren from the New York Yankees for $1.25 million in international-slot money; and obtained reliever Zach Duke from Minnesota for pitcher Chase De Jong and first baseman Ryan Castillo.
***The Mariners then just beat the deadline the following day by getting outfielder Cameron Maybin from Miami for shortstop Bryson Brigman.
Span, Warren, Duke and Maybin are all essentially rentals because they will be free agents in the coming off-season, but Dipoto readily admitted the moves are designed to provide an immediate boost.
Colome comes with two more years of club control, while the Mariners control Tuivailala for four more years. All six players traded away were minor-leaguers with six years of club control.
There’s nothing to prevent the Mariners from re-signing any or all of their four pending free agents. The guidelines actually provide clubs with a slight advantage in negotiating with their own free agents.
What is the potential long-term cost for this short-term boost? I posed that question to three scouts from rival organizations who regularly track the Mariners.
Their consensus: Not a lot.
“I like Elledge,” one said, “but Tuivailala is a solid return. Elledge might have a bigger upside, but there’s some projection there. In Tui, they get four years on a guy who has more of a track record and should be a solid middle reliever.”
Another said: “That deal for Colome and Span was simply a willingness to add payroll. Talent-wise, I think it’s a steal just to get Colome for those two guys (Moore and Romero). Getting Span is just a bonus. A nice bonus.”
Getting Warren for international-slot money got three thumbs up.
“That’s a veteran guy who has pitched in pennant races,” one said. “That’s what they were looking for. People don’t say, `Wow,’ but that’s because he’s not a closer. But they didn’t need a closer. They needed somebody to get the ball to the closer.
“Warren is a solid guy and, if you’re in a pennant race and need bullpen help, I make that deal every time. I’m a scout, and I love those 16-year-olds in the Dominican. But even if they’re good, they’re years away. The Mariners need help now.”
Two scouts noted that Brigman is having a breakout year at Hi-A Modesto, but one cautioned, “That’s a hitters’ league, and it’s a long way from there to the big time.”
The other scout shrugged off Brigman’s departure by pointing out shortstop Jean Segura is under club control through 2023, and second baseman Dee Gordon through 2021.
“He’s blocked,” the scout concluded.
None of the three saw De Jong as anything more than organizational depth, and while Costello has solid numbers at Lo-A Clinton, one scout noted: “He’s not tearing it up, and he’s a 22-year-old in the Midwest League.”
As for an overall assessment, one scout said: “Look, I don’t know if they did enough to get over the hump, but they did get some nice veteran guys without giving up too much.”
Another added: “I doubt Jerry is done. You can make trades in August. Check back with me in a month.”