The Seattle Mariners are coming off a successful homestand in which they went 7-4. They faltered toward the end, losing the last series against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Mariners start a seven game road trip today; they’ll play four against the Minnesota Twins and three against the Texas Rangers. Seattle sits two games below .500, but only trail in the Wild Card race by two games. This is why the Mariners situation seems to have become a bit cloudy.
Seattle Mariners Situation has become Murky
They are not running away from anything. They are hovering around the area of being in contention for that ever-elusive September playoff berth. With the addition of the second Wild Card spot, and an AL that doesn’t see any team other than the New York Yankees and Houston Astros pulling away, this year promises to be a good one down the stretch. Even the Chicago White Sox, nine games under .500, are not yet out of it. Adding that extra team to the playoffs in 2012 may be the best thing Bud Selig did for baseball.
The Mariners seem to be in an interesting position going into the trade deadline. They are still within striking distance of the Wild Card. They have finished their longest homestand of the season, and have played better on the road all year. This could all add up to them staying right where they are in the standings, which would take away the need to sell. They also signed Jean Segura to be the shortstop of the future. His five-year deal, signed last week, diminishes the rumors of a fire sale that had been gaining traction after a recent 1-8 stretch.
With Felix Hernandez due back any day now and Mitch Haniger being activated yesterday, the Mariners are seeing light at the end of the injury tunnel. Hisashi Iwakuma is prepping for a simulated game and then a rehab stint. Drew Smyly just started throwing off the mound, and his return could look like a mid-season trade acquisition in itself. With Danny Valencia hitting .266/.318/.747 and Mike Zunino hitting over .300 in his last 10 games, there seems to be fewer and fewer glaring holes to fill.
The Mariners have a few players who could net good returns. Teams are going to be looking for starting pitchers who are capable of performing at the MLB level. The rash of injuries to the Mariners gave them the opportunity to see if there were any of those at the minor league level, and Sam Gaviglio and Christian Bergman did not disappoint.
Gaviglio (2-1, 2.79 ERA) has started five games since being called up on May 10. The 27-year-old was drafted in the fifth round of the 2011 Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. He was traded to the Mariners in 2015 for infielder Ty Kelly, and spent the last few years between Double- and Triple-A. He is making the most of his opportunity to fill in for the injured. While not overpowering, throwing in the low 90’s, he is accurate and has been able to make sure the Mariners have been the game he’s started.
Bergman (3-3, 4.03 ERA) has stepped up as well in the absence of the normal starting rotation. Outside of a terrible game in Washington, in which he allowed 10 runs in four innings, he has been solid. He’s given the Mariners a boost when needed, twice going over 100 pitches, and throwing in three quality starts. He was called upon May 7. Bergman, 29, was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2010, and pitched with them through the 2015 season. He signed a minor league contract with the Mariners in December of 2016.
These two players could be used by Jerry DiPoto to get some value. They do not represent long-term commitments for the organization, and when Hernandez and Iwakuma come back, the only place would be to send them back to Tacoma. Placing them on the market, where they might be flipped for useful pieces, makes the most sense.
All this is purely speculative, but given DiPoto’s short track record as GM, it would hardly be surprising. If the Mariners keep playing like they did during these last 11 games, look for them to be both sellers and buyers. They might find themselves holding the most coveted pieces that playoff hopefuls want: serviceable, MLB-ready pitching talent to plug into a rotation.