Reconstruction of the Mariners


Cole Stefan

Since 1977, the Seattle Mariners have been a franchise that has only been to the playoffs six times. All of those appearances were within a span of ten years ranging from 1991-2001. This means that since 2001, the Mariners have been to the playoffs zero times, the longest playoff drought in the four major North American  sports leagues. Since their last appearance, the Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Angels, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Milwaukee Brewers, and Kansas City Royals all returned to the playoffs. To be clear, none of those droughts started after 1995. The Mariners have had everything from winning seasons to losing seasons, but no treats in October to reward them.

The only reason this matters is because for every season the Mariners fail to make the playoffs, the team seems to be making changes. Last offseason, the team traded for Dee Gordon in a massive fire sale from the Marlins and acquired Jean Segura from the Diamondbacks. During the season, they traded for Adam Warren from the Yankees and a few other building blocks. At some point during the middle of the season, the Mariners looked as if they could return to the playoffs with what they got. By October 1st, the Oakland A´s had all but silenced that with their impressive hot streak thanks to their young guys. Seattle had young guys too, but they wanted change that could help the team return to the playoffs. They did not switch out their owner like the Marlins did, but they had the right guys in the front office to keep things flowing smoothly.

Like the Marlins last offseason, the Mariners were projected to be serious contenders in the following season if they acquired a few pieces to build around the guys they already had. However, the front office took things the opposite direction, just like the Marlins. The fire sale all begins one day in November when Mike Zunino is traded to the youthful Rays in a five-player deal that also sends Guillermo Heredia down south. Following this trade, I thought that this was the biggest deal of the offseason at that point. I quietly laughed when I read a headline that said that Jerry DiPietro wanted a rebuild. Who knew that he was not kidding? After a very uneventful stretch of time where almost zero transactions happened in the pros, something new came along. This new highlight was James Paxton being traded to the New York Yankees for three prospects, one of which was Justus Sheffield. As much as I found the trade to be really interesting and exciting, this was just the beginning of what has already been a very intense offseason by far.

The Marlins traded their three best hitters within a span of about three weeks. Within a span of a week starting with the Paxton trade, star closer Edwin Díaz and veteran Robinson Cano were traded to the Mets for prospects, Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, and some other guy. Alex Colome, the best closer from 2017 who was traded during the season with Denard Span, was sent to the White Sox for a catcher named Omar Nevarez, and shortstop Jean Segura was packaged to Philadelphia for Carlos Santana, J.P. Crawford, and a couple prospects. All of these trades are very big and have a massive impact on how the team will play next season. Here’s the interesting thing though, no one has done anything with free agent Nelson Cruz, which shows that he likely might sign somewhere else. To briefly compare, the Marlins got prospects and former all-star Starlin Castro in all the deals they made while sending away their sluggers. The Mariners got prospects, decent players, and former all-stars in the trades made to rebuild. Unlike the Marlins, the team has a pretty good chance of either finishing slightly below .500 or at .500 because of some of the talents they have.

For example, Carlos Santana is a former all-star who has been to the World Series with the Cleveland Indians and has made an impact everywhere he goes while Jay Bruce could find his skills coming back to him as he plays with his third team in four years. They will be able to work hopefully well with young players such as Ben Gamel, Dee Gordon, Mitch Haniger, Ryon Healy, etc. What is already true is that Jerry DiPietro has been one of the busiest GMs in the league and maybe in a few years, not next year, he can lead the team to their first playoff appearance since 2001. It is all under Jerry´s master plan somehow.