The Mariners’ trade deadline endeavors ended up focusing around pitching additions, yet the club also looked into acquiring a pair of top-tier bats. On a recent edition of the Talking Mariners podcast, 710 ESPN’s Shannon Drayer and James Osborn said Seattle tried to obtain Kris Bryant from the Cubs, with Drayer noting that the M’s “went in heavy on” their attempts to land the former NL MVP. Additionally, The Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish reports (on the Times’ Extra Innings podcast, with MLB.com’s Daniel Kramer as a guest) that tried to pry Bryan Reynolds away from the Pirates.
Bryant is perhaps the more intriguing name, considering that he’ll be available in the free agent market in a matter of days. As Drayer mentioned, Seattle’s interest in Bryant as a trade deadline rental doesn’t necessarily mean the club would also be open to making him a long-term free agent offer. Signing Bryant would be expensive, but GM Jerry Dipoto has said that the M’s have more payroll to spend this winter, and the club doesn’t have much salary on the books for forthcoming years.
Tying into another recent Dipoto comment, Bryant would also fit the Mariners’ preferred desire for “a player who is adaptable and willing to move around the field.” Bryant’s ability to play either corner infield position and all three outfield spots certainly qualifies, and his presence would allow the M’s to mix and match their current options at those positions.
Assuming Kyle Seager’s club option isn’t exercised, Ty France and Abraham Toro are penciled into the starting first base and third base spots, but landing Bryant would allow either player to fill Seattle’s vacancy at second base. The Mariners have Mitch Haniger, Kyle Lewis, Jarred Kelenic, Taylor Trammell, and Jake Fraley set for outfield duty with top prospect Julio Rodriguez set to make his MLB debut, yet Haniger is the only experienced name in this group, and Lewis missed almost the entire 2021 season due to injury.
Since Dipoto has mainly built the Mariners’ roster via trades, however, Divish and Kramer believe the general manager is more likely to again focus on the trade market rather than free agency for any big-ticket additions. Signing Bryant or any of the top free-agent shortstops might not be as feasible for the M’s as picking up a notable trade target, and in fact, Divish predicts J.P. Crawford will be signed to a contract extension to further entrench him as the Mariners’ shortstop. (Drayer, for the record, believes Trevor Story would be willing to move to second or third base to accommodate, and “Story is somebody that [the Mariners] have liked for a long, long time.”)
Seattle could also use their financial flexibility to accommodate some deals, but of course, swinging a major trade that doesn’t involve absorbing a big contract would have another heavy cost in terms of surrendering prospects. In regards to Reynolds, Divish says the M’s have tried to acquire the outfielder on two different occasions, and in the most recent trade talks, the Pirates wanted Rodriguez in return. It seems highly unlikely that Seattle would part with Rodriguez (arguably the sport’s top prospect) in any deal, yet those are the kinds of asks that other teams would make for any premium talent.
Pittsburgh’s demand for Rodriguez also further illustrates the very high price tag the Pirates are putting on Reynolds, who was a popular trade target for many teams this summer. Reynolds is arbitration-eligible through the 2025 season, and that type of control combined with Reynolds’ outstanding performance in two of his three seasons makes him one of the most valuable trade chips in all of baseball. However, the Pirates have also indicated that they see Reynolds as a key member of their rebuild, and it isn’t likely Reynolds is dealt unless another team steps forward with a truly eye-popping offer, i.e. a Rodriguez-level prospect.