10:46AM: X-rays were negative on Rodriguez, Jerry Dipoto said during an appearance on “The Front Office Show” on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link). It doesn’t seem likely that Rodriguez will play in today’s game and the M’s will continue to monitor the outfielder’s status, but the initial test results are “a good portent for the future,” as Dipoto put it.
10:06AM: Julio Rodriguez was hit in the right hand by a pitch in last night’s 5-4 victory over the Astros, and had to eventually leave the contest in the ninth inning. The rookie superstar was hit in the top of the eighth and he felt good enough to take the field for the bottom half of the inning, though pinch-hitter Abraham Toro replaced Rodriguez for a ninth-inning plate appearance.
X-rays were scheduled for last night, and the results could be a turning point in the Mariners’ season. A serious injury could sideline Rodriguez for most or all of the remainder of the schedule — a worst-case scenario that would both severely hurt Seattle’s chances of finally ending its postseason drought, and cutting short Rodriguez’s spectacular rookie campaign.
Widely seen as the top prospect in baseball, Rodriguez has hit .271/.334/.482 with 18 homers and 21 steals over his first 401 plate appearances in the majors. Between his power, speed, and strong center field defense, Rodriguez already looks like one of the sport’s top all-around talents at age 21, and has even drawn comparisons to Mariners legend Ken Griffey Jr.
Friday’s acquisition of Luis Castillo is the latest sign that the Mariners are all-in on the 2022 season, and whatever further plans president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto might have would surely be impacted by Rodriguez’s status — if even a 10-day IL trip is required, the M’s could conceivably look to add some outfield depth to fill the void. Prior to yesterday’s game, Dipoto said the Mariners were “still open to the idea of adding a bullpen arm,” but downplayed the idea of the club making another huge move.
In regards to offense specifically, Dipoto told The Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish and other reporters that the M’s were largely counting on internal returns of injured players. “We view Mitch (Haniger) and the addition of Kyle Lewis last week as the moves that our offense needed. That being said, we’ll keep our ear to the street in the event that opportunity exists. It’s just a little tougher to see where that might be,” Dipoto said.
The M’s already gave up quite a bit of land Castillo, though with a deep farm system, Seattle has more to offer in other possible trades. In a piece written prior to the Castillo deal, Divish cited several young players either already on Seattle’s MLB roster or in their farm system and ranked them on their likelihood as trade chips. Edwin Arroyo was the highest-ranked member of Divish’s list to be dealt in the Castillo swap, with Arroyo landing in the third tier — dubbed the “it would hurt, but if it’s the right player(s) in return” division. Since Noelvi Marte was in the fourth tier, Seattle only had to move two of its top 10 young assets to land Castillo in Divish’s estimation, though obviously some of those assets (like Rodriguez or Logan Gilbert) are untouchable or all-but-untouchable.
Jarred Kelenic was once seen as a can’t-move type of prospect, and yet Divish hears from a scout that “the Mariners have made it clear they are willing to trade Kelenic to fill their immediate needs.” Kelenic has hit only .173/.256/.338 over 473 PA in his first two big league seasons, with 17 homers and 142 strikeouts in that small sample size. Even as he continues to tear up Triple-A pitching, Divish notes that Kelenic is having trouble hitting breaking pitches in the minors, and MLB pitchers have taken full advantage of his flaw. There would seemingly be some kind of sell-low aspect to moving Kelenic now, yet the 23-year-old would surely generate plenty of interest in trade talks.