After last winter’s deep freeze, many in the game are surely wondering when the action will truly get underway this time around. We’re still awaiting a monster free agent pact, but the first blockbuster trade is now in the books. For the Mariners, sending James Paxton out for a package featuring two near-MLB pitchers was designed to open a new contention window in one or two years, GM Jerry Dipoto acknowledged today in an interview on 710 ESPN. (H/t TJ Cotterill of the Tacoma News Tribune, via Twitter.) That largely fits the prior indications that Dipoto has given, perhaps helping set the stage for the club’s remaining offseason work. Certainly, there could be quite a few more deals for the ever-active Dipoto to explore with that goal in mind. As we recently covered in breaking down the club’s offseason situation, the M’s have several other assets that could make sense as trade chips.
Now that the ice has been broken, here’s the latest trade chatter from around the game:
- In an interesting side note following tonight’s major swap, Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweets that the Yankees also sought to discuss Jean Segura in their talks with the Mariners. Segura has now established himself as a quality regular at short and is playing on a reasonably priced contract extension. He’d obviously help the Yanks fill in for the injured Didi Gregorius — which would presumably all but take the club out of the running for free agent star Manny Machado. Obviously, the Segura side of the talks did not progress. Whether the possibility of a deal could be revisited is not clear, but it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see the clubs circle back.
- While the Astros had interest in Paxton, they weren’t willing to budge on including top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley to get a deal done, Morosi adds on Twitter. It’s rather unsurprising to hear that the Houston organization drew a hard line there, as the 21-year-old has one of the loftiest ceilings of any pre-MLB hurler in baseball and perhaps isn’t far from cracking the majors. Presumably the ’Stros had a different package on offer that was simply deemed inferior to the one that got the deal done. Houston GM Jeff Luhnow will no doubt move on to a series of other potential targets, as rotation improvement remains a clear need.
- Trade talks involving Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, meanwhile have seemingly yet to get going in earnest. To this point, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets, the Astros and Cardinals “have had the most meaningful discussions” of any organizations in baseball. But that’s just relative to their peers, not an indication that either club is particularly likely (let alone close) to striking a deal for one of the game’s best and steadiest offensive performers. Of course, it’s also still entirely unclear just what the D-Backs will look to do with such a key player. An extension still does not appear to be out of the question, though there have been no hints that one is in the works. Even in a trade scenario, the team will have to decide whether to try to use Goldschmidt as a vehicle to shed salary (by attaching another contract) or recoup talent.
- As they seek to make some tweaks to an increasingly expensive roster, the Indians are receiving “significant trade interest” in backstop Yan Gomes, Rosenthal tweets. It’ll be interesting to see how the market ends up valuing Gomes, who’s due $7MM in 2019 and then another $2MM in buyouts on successive options (if they aren’t exercised). That seemed a bargain when he was turning in big offensive numbers back in 2013 and 2014, but his multi-year lull left the contract seemingly turned the back end of the contract sour. Now, though, the 31-year-old is coming off of his best showing with the bat in years. In 2018, he slashed .266/.313/.449 and swatted 16 home runs in 435 plate appearances. That said, it’s far from clear whether the bump in productivity was the result of a sustainable improvement. Gomes walked at an anemic 4.8% clip and rode a .336 batting average on balls in play — though he did produce a greater hard-hit rate (38.7%) and average exit velocity (88.9%) than he ever had previously. He also set new personal high-water marks in launch angle and line-drive rate, accomplishing the latter by significantly paring down on the number of balls he put on the ground. Given his strong reputation as a defender, Gomes would seem to be quite an appealing target as a league-average hitter, so teams that find cause to believe in the bat will surely have interest.