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The emergence of Seattle Mariners Daniel Vogelbach and J.P. Crawford is a positive development for a rebuilding team targeting contention by 2021. If the pair sustains their success, they’ll join a growing line of fledgling stars found by the Mariners in the trade market.

Before focusing on Vogelbach and Crawford, let’s have a little fun by reflecting on young talent previously obtained by the Mariners in player swaps. The names we’ll be discussing are recognizable to long-time fans, although some players didn’t achieve stardom in Seattle or anywhere else. Several are active, but not necessarily with the team any longer.

No one on our list appeared in more than 76 games prior to joining the Mariners, while four players made their MLB debut with Seattle. Adding to our fun, there’s at least one representative from every decade of the franchise’s existence.

We’ve ranked players using their WAR (Baseball Reference version) as a Mariner. Also on display, their pre-trade experience and age when debuting with Seattle.

Our first player is a Hall of Famer and the best young talent ever acquired by the Mariners. His eventual departure from Seattle also affects our list in a big way. Makes sense since he’s a big man.


Randy Johnson (39 WAR)


Prev Exp: 11 games
Debut Age: 25

GM Woody Woodward acquired Johnson with Gene Harris and Brian Holman from the Expos by sending Mark Langston and Mike Campbell to Montreal in May 1989. Wildness plagued his early career, but the 6-foot-10 lefty evolved into arguably the best pitcher in franchise history.

A year after joining Seattle, Johnson threw the first no-hitter in team history. From there, the former USC Trojan would become a Cy Young Award winner and a two-time runner-up, plus a five-time All-Star with the Mariners.

Johnson’s stay in the Emerald City ended when Woodward dealt the Big Unit to the Astros in July 1998 for three unproven players – Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen, and John Halama.

During his decade a Mariner, Johnson began building the case for his eventual Cooperstown induction. Predictably, he’s in the club’s Hall of Fame too.


Jay Buhner (23.1 WAR)


Prev Exp: 32 games
Debut Age: 23

Thanks to an episode of Seinfeld, the 1988 deal bringing Buhner may be the most famous Mariners trade ever. Much to the chagrin of Frank Costanza, the Yankees sent the outfielder to the Emerald City with minor leaguers Rick Balabon and Troy Evers for Ken Phelps.

Buhner would go on to play 14 seasons with Seattle with 1995-97 being the best. His 124 home run tally during this period was third best in MLB behind Mark McGwire (149) and Albert Belle (128). The former second round pick finished fifth in MVP voting in 1995 and earned an All-Star selection and Gold Glove the following year.

Right field belonged to Buhner until the 2001 arrival of Ichiro Suzuki, which coincided with the end of his distinguished playing career. Bone’s 307 home runs are third most all-time in club history behind Cooperstown inductees Ken Griffey Jr. (417) and Edgar Martinez (309).

The Mariners inducted Buhner into their Hall of Fame in 2004 and he remains a Pacific Northwest fixture.


Freddy García (18.6 WAR)


Prev Exp: 0 games
Debut Age: 22

Being the main piece in a trade for a future Hall of Famer must’ve be challenging for García, but he delivered value during six seasons in Seattle.

In his debut campaign, García was runner-up for 1999 Rookie of the Year and received votes during Cy Young Award balloting. Two years later, the Venezuelan led the league in ERA and innings and finished in third-place finisher for the Cy Young. The right-hander’s 114 ERA+ ranks third behind Johnson (128) and Félix Hernández (118) among Mariners; his ERA and WAR are top-five.

In June 2004, the Mariners traded García with Ben Davis to the White Sox for Mike Morse, Miguel Olivo, and Jeremy Reed. He’d go on to help Chicago win the 2005 World Series.


Jim Beattie (13.9 WAR)


Prev Exp: 40 games
Debut Age: 25

Prior to arriving in Seattle, Beattie provided a preview of his potential notching a complete game victory for the Yankees in the 1978 World Series.

After the 1979 campaign, New York dispatched the Dartmouth alum to the Mariners with Rick Anderson, Juan Beniquez and Jerry Narron for Ruppert Jones and Jim Lewis. The deal was a winner for Seattle thanks to Beattie.

In seven seasons with Seattle, Beattie made 147 starts with 30 complete games – fourth most by a Mariner behind Mike Moore (56), Johnson (51), and Langston (41). His 3.81 FIP and .336 opponent OBP are also top-five.

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Injuries ended Beattie’s career in 1986, but the former fourth round pick later joined the Mariners’ front office in 1990. He’d later serve as GM of the Expos and Orioles.


Dan Wilson (13.5 WAR)


Prev Exp: 48 games
Debut Age: 25

The Mariners acquired Wilson and the extremely popular Bobby Ayala from the Reds in November 1993 for Bret Boone and Erik Hanson. Once again, Woodward found a young player destined to shine with his franchise.

I’m referring to Wilson, not Ayala.

Wilson’s best run occurred during the 1995-97 seasons. Only three catchers bettered his 9.7 WAR – two Hall of Famers (Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez) and Todd Hundley. The Illinois native would play his final 12 MLB seasons in Seattle.

Without doubt, Wilson is the best catcher in club’s history. The former Minnesota Gopher has the highest career WAR of any Mariners receiver with Dave Valle (9.4) and Mike Zunino (7.0) trailing him. His 88 home runs are second only to Zunino (94). However, he has more doubles (207) than Valle and Zunino combined (190).

Wilson is also a Mariners Hall of Famer. He’s still involved with the organization as a roving instructor and part-time radio and TV contributor.


Floyd Bannister (13.1 WAR)


Prev Exp: 52 games
Debut Age: 24

A local product from Burien’s Kennedy high school, Bannister came to Seattle via a December 1978 trade sending Craig Reynolds to Houston. The Arizona State alum proved to an effective starter during four seasons with the Mariners.

In 1982, Bannister led the AL in strikeouts and was an All-Star game. The lefty’s 3.78 ERA is fifth best by a Mariner; his 112 ERA+ ranks fourth with Jamie Moyer. Moreover, Bannister’s seven shutouts are fourth most behind Johnson (19), Hernández (11), and Moore and Langston (9).


Mitch Haniger (10.5 WAR)


Prev Exp: 34 games
Debut Age: 26

The 28-years-old is our first active player and a potential cornerstone for the Mariners. Current GM Jerry Dipoto acquired Haniger, Segura, and Zac Curtis from the Diamondbacks for Ketel Marte and Taijuan Walker in November 2016.

During Haniger’s first two years in Seattle, he was an All-Star leading the team in OBP with just former teammate Nelson Cruz besting him in walks, SLG, and OPS+. Defensively, only Mookie Betts, Yasiel Puig, Aaron Judge, and Jason Heyward had more defensive runs saved (DRS) in right field than the Cal Poly alum.

Although 2019 has been a lost season, Haniger remains Seattle’s best overall player until someone unseats him.


Carlos Guillén (9.1 WAR)


Prev Exp: 0 games
Debut Age: 22

Also part of the Johnson deal, the Venezuelan had the unenviable assignment of replacing All-Star shortstop and fan-favorite Álex Rodríguez once A-Rod bolted for Texas.

Guillén’s most memorable Mariners moment may be his squeeze bunt cinching a walk-off win in the deciding game of the 2000 ALDS. After the 2003 campaign, Seattle traded the switch-hitter to the Tigers for minor leaguer Juan Gonzalez and Ramon Santiago.

Guillén returned to the Mariners in February 2012 signing a minor league contract. However, he retired a month later without appearing in Cactus League action.


Jason Vargas (6.8 WAR)


Prev Exp: 31 games
Debut Age: 26

In December 2009, then-new Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik acquired Vargas in a three-team swap involving 11 players. Joining the southpaw in Seattle were Franklin Gutierrez, Mike Carp, Ezequiel Carrera, Endy Chavez, Maikel Cleto and Aaron Heilman.

Vargas proved to be a solid performer for Seattle. During 2010-12, he made 96 starts, including nine complete games and three shutouts. Only King Félix delivered more complete games, shutouts, innings pitched, and WAR.

Four years after acquiring Vargas, Zduriencik shipped the Long Beach State alum to the Angels for Kendrys Morales. Each player was a year away from free agency; both delivered value for their new clubs before hitting the open market.


Mike Blowers (5.9 WAR)


Prev Exp: 76 games
Debut Age: 27

The Mariners acquired their TV color analyst from the Yankees in May 1991 for minor leaguer Jim Blueberg, who never reached the majors. Blowers would spend three tours encompassing 464 games with Seattle.

As a Mariner, the versatile Blowers posted a solid .270/.343/.448 slash-line making appearances at both corner infield spots, left field, and right field. He even donned the tools of ignorance and caught a frame in 1993.

As Blower’s broadcast partner Aaron Goldsmith enjoys noting, the former Washington Husky drove in 33 runs in August 1995 giving him a share of club record for most RBI in any month. He holds the distinction with Edgar (also August 1995) and Buhner (September 1995).


John Halama (5.4 WAR)


Prev Exp: 6 games
Debut Age: 27

A 23rd round pick by Houston, Halama was the player named later in the Johnson deal.

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The Brooklyn native’s best season was his first in 1999. He made 38 appearances, including 24 starts, tossing a career-high 179 innings. His 4.8 WAR was third best on the staff behind Moyer (6.5) and García (5.4) and eleventh overall in MLB.

Halama spent four seasons with the Mariners before departing via free agency. The St. Francis University product signed with the A’s after the 2002 campaign.


Marco Gonzales (3.6 WAR)


Prev Exp: 12 games
Debut Age: 25

The former Gonzaga Bulldog came to the Mariners in a July 2017 deal sending heralded prospect Tyler O’Neill to the Cardinals.

When Gonzales joined the Mariners, he was still rebounding from Tommy John surgery, which restricted his repertoire and left him ineffective. Nevertheless, 2018 was a breakout season for the Colorado native. So much so, manager Scott Servais named him this year’s Opening Day starter.

Perhaps Gonzales isn’t an ace, but the 27-year-old is a potential foundational piece for Seattle. That said; Dipoto could still deal the former first round pick. For now though, he’s a Mariner and delivering results.


Mike Montgomery (2.1 WAR)

Prev Exp: 0 games
Debut Age: 25

Near the end of Spring Training in 2015, Zduriencik traded Erasmo Ramirez to the Rays for Montgomery.

During his rookie campaign with the Mariners, Montgomery threw two consecutive shutouts against the Royals and Padres. With Seattle, the versatile lefty split time between the rotation and the bullpen posting a 3.68 ERA in 48 appearances (18 starts).

In July 2016, Dipoto shipped Montgomery along with minor leaguer Jordan Pries to the Cubs for Paul Blackburn and Vogelbach. Just a few months later, the native Californian recorded the final out in Chicago’s World Series victory.


Ben Gamel (1.4 WAR)


Prev Exp: 6 games
Debut Age: 24

The Yankees shipped their 2010 tenth round pick to Seattle on the last day of August in 2016 for two minor leaguers – Juan De Paula and Jio Orozco. Gamel played parts of three seasons with the Mariners appearing in 262 games slashing a respectable .270/.333/.395.

Last December, the team shipped the 27-year-old with minor leaguer Noah Zavolas to the Brewers for Domingo Santana. Both Gamel and Santana are supplying results for their new teams.


J.P. Crawford (1.2 WAR)


Prev Exp: 72 games
Debut Age: 24

Seattle acquired the 16th overall pick in the 2013 draft in one of several big trades made by the team last offseason. To get his man, Dipoto sent Juan Nicasio, James Pazos, and Jean Segura to the Phillies and accepted the contract of first baseman Carlos Santana.

Crawford’s strong defense, productive bat, and athleticism suggest he may be Seattle’s shortstop of the future. During a recent visit with Bob, Groz, and Tom on 710 ESPN Seattle, the crew asked Prospect Insider founder Jason A. Churchill to pick the current young Mariner with the best chance of sticking with the team – he chose Crawford.

As Churchill would note, Crawford only debuted on May 10. Therefore, it’s too soon to know whether he’ll become a star. But the 24-year-old’s early success is encouraging.


Daniel Vogelbach (1.0 WAR)


Prev Exp: 0 games
Debut Age: 23

Until this year, few Seattle fans were pleased with the trade bringing Vogelbach to the Mariners. Montgomery helped the Cubs win their first Fall Classic in over a century. Meanwhile, Vogey toiled in the minors awaiting his shot.

Well, Vogelbach finally received his chance to be an everyday player and he’s producing. The former second rounder’s walk percentage is top-three in MLB and he’s leading his team in home runs, OBP, and OPS+. Even better, the slugger is Seattle’s lone All-Star game representative.

As with Crawford, the jury remains out on Vogelbach’s future. That said; the 26-year-old has a greater chance of leaving his mark in the Mariners’ record book than Montgomery did.


Finally

Realistically, it’s too early to know whether Vogelbach or Crawford are keepers. The same applies to the stable of highly touted young talent acquired by Dipoto this offseason – Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Justus Sheffield, Shed Long, Jake Fraley, Dom Thompson-Williams, and Erik Swanson.

Perhaps one or more of these hyped prospects join Johnson, Buhner, and Wilson as a Mariners Hall of Famers. Then again, it’s possible some fall well short of fan and team expectations (Jesús Montero).

Having said that, the youngsters will need time to develop – some more than others. Remember, Johnson overcame early struggles to become a Seattle legend and a Hall of Famer. Watching the kids blossom should be fun, not frustrating.

At least that’s how I see it.

My Oh My.

2 Comments

  1. Jamie Moyer doesn’t qualify because he was 33 when the club acquired him. This is ‘young talent’ acquired by Seattle, as Luke noted in the third sentence of the piece.

  2. Ummmmmmm…..so no Moyer???!!!!!!

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