The Mariners, as one would expect with GM Jerry Dipoto at the helm, continue to be active in trade discussions and are receiving the most interest in outfielder Domingo Santana and lefty Roenis Elias, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required). Interest in Santana is strong enough that Seattle “will at least consider trading him,” Rosenthal writes.
Santana, 27 in early August, is in his first season with the Mariners after coming over from the Brewers in an offseason swap that sent Ben Gamel to Milwaukee. The slugger has been every bit as productive as Seattle could have reasonably hoped upon acquiring him, hitting at a .280/.346/.489 pace with 19 home runs, 19 doubles, a triple and six steals. Santana, though, has also fanned at a 29.5 percent clip and racked up more total strikeouts (122) than any player in Major League Baseball.
More concerning than Santana’s strikeouts, however, is his glovework in the outfield. Santana’s -14.4 Ultimate Zone Rating and -12 Outs Above Average are the worst marks of any outfielder in baseball. Only Colorado’s Ian Desmond (-16) has fared worse than Santana (-13) in the estimation of Defensive Runs Saved. It’s not fully clear what has prompted the downturn in Santana’s defensive ratings. A year ago in Milwaukee, he drew above-average marks from all three of those metrics. And while those positive ratings look to be an outlier relative to the rest of his career, Santana has also never struggled anywhere close to this extent in seasons past.
Surely, some teams — particularly those in the NL — will be wary of Santana’s defense. But a club that could give Santana some time at designated hitter (or, speculatively, first base) and/or one that believes it has a solution to this season’s pronounced decline could hardly help but be intrigued by his bat. Santana has been an above-average hitter in every season he’s received regular playing time, and he’s controlled through the 2021 season at an affordable rate. This year’s home run and RBI totals will undoubtedly boost his salary in arbitration, but he’s earning just $1.95MM in 2019, so his forthcoming raise won’t make his salary burdensome. Santana has been good against right-handed pitching (.277/.338/.449) while obliterating lefties (.287/.374/.621), so he’d be of particular interest to a team that has been overmatched by opposing southpaws (e.g. Indians, Rockies).
As for Elias, MLBTR explored the left-hander’s likely trade candidacy at greater length last week, noting that while he’s not an elite reliever, he’s a solid arm whose modest $910K salary and remaining club control (also through 2021) should generate plenty of interest. Elias can miss bats, throws rather hard for a lefty and gets good spin on both his heater and curveball, all of which makes him an appealing asset. With so many teams around the league eyeing bullpen help and Dipoto never afraid to move a piece as he rebuilds the Seattle roster and farm system, it’d be more surprising to see the Mariners retain Elias than it would be to see him traded.