There’s been ample speculation surrounding the Mariners’ excellent young rotation since it was reported that the Cardinals had interest in 26-year-old righty Logan Gilbert. And while a trade involving one of Seattle’s talented arms could be a long shot due to the lofty asking price associated with all controllable young starters, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the M’s would at least consider dealing from their stock in order to acquire a young hitter with several years of control remaining.
Seattle’s rotation features veteran ace Luis Castillo and a quartet of touted young righties: Gilbert, George Kirby, Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo. Gilbert and Kirby have largely established themselves as quality big league arms, while Miller and Woo have impressed during their rookie efforts.
Gilbert, sporting a 3.88 ERA, 24.4% strikeout rate and 4.4% walk rate in 20 starts, is controllable for four more years beyond the current season. Kirby (3.49 ERA, 22.6% strikeout rate, 2.4% walk rate) has an additional five seasons of control remaining. Miller (3.96 ERA, 23.9% strikeout rate, 5.1% walk rate in 75 innings) and Woo (4.91 ERA but a 28.9% strikeout rate and 7% walk rate in 44 innings) would each come with six seasons of control beyond the current year. Both Miller and Woo were ranked among the sport’s top 100 prospects at the time of their respective promotions.
The price to acquire any of those arms would surely be steep; not only would the Mariners be seeking a controllable bat to plug into the lineup — they’d likely be seeking a high-end, all-around contributor. Reds fans have regularly asked in MLBTR chats about the possibility of shipping Jonathan India to the Mariners for one of those starters, for instance, but league-average offense at second base and three-plus years of control likely isn’t enough to sway Seattle president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto to part with anywhere from four to six seasons of control over a big league starter. (Notably, Rosenthal suggests a trade of India is far likelier in the offseason than in the next few days.) The same could well apply to Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson — another roughly league-average hitter with three-plus seasons of club control remaining.
Should the Mariners find an offer to their liking on any of their talented young arms, Rosenthal suggests they could call up Emerson Hancock from Double-A. The former sixth overall pick has a 4.26 ERA with solid but not eye-popping strikeout and walk numbers over 19 starts there. Rosenthal also floats the possibility of Seattle acquiring an impending free agent starter — perhaps in a Teoscar Hernandez swap with another win-now club — to step into a rotation spot vacated by a trade of a controllable arm. Marco Gonzales is currently on the injured list but could return later in the season; perhaps Robbie Ray will make it back from Tommy John surgery at some point next year.
While a deal involving one of Seattle’s controllable starters would be tough to pull off, trades of shorter-term veterans could be easier to line up. Reliever Paul Sewald is surely of interest to a number of clubs, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported tonight (on Twitter) that Seattle is signaling an openness to moving him.
Sewald has been one of the best relievers in the sport since breaking out with Seattle in 2021. He owns a 2.90 ERA in 170 2/3 innings in an M’s uniform. The right-hander has been effective in all three seasons, including an even 3.00 ERA over 42 frames this year. He’s striking out just under 36% of opponents against a modest 7.9% walk rate.
The 33-year-old righty is playing this season on a $4.1MM arbitration salary. He’s eligible for that process once more before hitting free agency during the 2024-25 offseason. The asking price on Sewald obviously wouldn’t be as extreme as those on the M’s starters, but Seattle would surely aim high in those talks as well.