Mariners attempt to upgrade offense


Today, the Seattle Mariners made an incremental move designed to upgrade their disappointing offense by trading for Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder/first baseman Mark Trumbo in exchange for reliever Dominic Leone, catcher Welington Castillo, and two minor leaguers – outfielder Gabby Guerrero and shortstop Jack Reinheimer. The Mariners also picked up pitcher Vidal Nuno in the deal.

From Seattle’s standpoint, this deal was all about acquiring a power bat to help improve run production, which was second worst in the American League entering today. The Mariners have scored three runs or fewer in 27 of their 53 games. In those 27 games, they have a 9-18 win-loss record compared to 14-9 in games that they’ve scored four or more runs.

The 29-year-old – who finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year in 2011 voting behind Tampa Bay’s Jeremy Hellickson. – has been a durable performer who averaged 151 games-per-season, while hitting 31 home runs and driving-in 94 runs during his first full three seasons in the majors. In 2014, he missed 80 games due to a stress fracture in his left foot, but still managed to hit 14 home runs in 88 games.

Trumbo’s presence will not automatically fix the Mariners’ offense considering that he has a .298 career on-base percentage (OBP), which is approximately 15 points below the league-average. On the other hand, that OBP ranks eighth best on the 2015 Mariners just ahead of Robinson Cano (.291).

Most likely, Trumbo will play a corner outfield spot in Seattle. He’s played 42 games in right field and one at first base this season, although he’s started 320 games at first base, plus 203 games in corner outfield spots. At best, Trumbo will be passable defender in the outfield. Seattle will have team control over the Anaheim native – who is arbitration eligible in 2016 – until after the 2017 season.

The 27-year-old Nuno – who debuted with the New York Yankees in 2013 – started 28 games for the Yankees and Diamondbacks in 2013 and 2014. The left-hander began the season at Class-AAA Reno where he started eight games. Initial indicators are that the Mariners will use Nuno out of the bullpen. But, having another pitcher with starting experience is advantageous for a team that has already seen two starters – Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton – go to the disabled list with no return date set for either.

The trade of Castillo is a bit of a surprise since the Mariners just acquired the catcher from the Chicago Cubs on May 19. From a financial perspective, sending Castillo and the remainder of his $2.1 million contract to Arizona helped Seattle offset the addition of Trumbo’s remaining $6.9 million 2015 salary. In the end, Seattle is adding approximately $4.6 million.

The loss of Castillo means the Mariners will need to add another catcher before tomorrow’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. The most likely candidate is Jesus Sucre, who is playing with Class AAA-Tacoma. The 27-year-old was the Mariners back-up catcher prior to the Castillo trade.

For Arizona, they shed payroll for a player that they deemed expendable while picking up a needed catcher to replace the injured Tuffy Gosewisch, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on May 29 after starting 34 games this year. The addition of Leone – who struggled with the Mariners this season – helps compensate for the loss of Nuno on the major league roster.

The top prospect that Arizona gets in this deal is the 21-year-old Guerrero, who is the nephew of former Most Valuable Player Vladimir Guerrero and former major leaguer Wilton Guerrero. Prospect Insider founder and co-host of The Steve Sandmeyer Show on 1090 The Fan – Jason A. Churchill – ranked Guerrero the Mariners’ number five in a weak group of prospects prior to the start of this season. The 22-year-old Reinheimer – who didn’t crack Jason’s top-30 of Mariners’ prospects – has a likely ceiling no higher than as a reserve.

This deal won’t fix the Mariners offensive problems by a long shot. But, it could be a move in the right direction depending on how Manager Lloyd McClendon opts to use the four-year veteran and the follow-on moves made by General Manager Jack Zduriencik. By tomorrow, the team will have to make two roster moves to make room for Trumbo and Sucre. Who the team opts to remove from the roster will likely indicate the team’s direction going forward.

Seattle will need to make more substantial changes to get the team’s offense completely back on track regardless of the changes tomorrow. This move is a first good move, but can’t be the last. Otherwise, the team will shift from being a postseason contender to an also-ran.

 

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Luke Arkins

Luke is a native New Yorker, who grew up a Mets fan. After the US Navy moved him to the Pacific Northwest in 2009, he decided to make Seattle his home. During the baseball season, he can be seen often observing the local team at Safeco Field. You can follow Luke on Twitter @luke_arkins
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