I don’t have a good space for this post, as the next day I anticipate having an opening will be next Thursday, which would make this beyond stale. So, instead, I’m doubling up on a Friday.
The Mariners acquired Dee Gordon from the Miami Marlins! In return, the Marlins get three minor leaguers. If you thought, like I did, that the Mariners traded away all their minor leaguers, you’d be wrong. Indeed, considering Gordon’s talent level, I’m shocked the Marlins were able to find three guys they liked from our farm system, but that’s neither here nor there.
It looks like the Marlins are in salary dump mode, which isn’t something new. Dee Gordon is set to earn $37 million over the next three years, with 2021 being an option year ($14 million if he stays, $1 million if we buy him out; the option vests automatically if he has 600 plate appearances in 2020, or 1,200 across 2019-2020).
If you don’t know who Dee Gordon is, he was a starting second baseman for the Marlins, who happened to play at an All Star level in 2014 & 2015. He also won a Gold Glove in 2015, as well as a Silver Slugger award and had the National League batting title. He had a down season in 2016, thanks to an 80-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs (which is cause for concern, because I’m sure the next offense is way worse than 80 games), but he bounced back in a big way in 2017.
The hitting talent is there. He doesn’t have much in the way of power, but in his last three full seasons he’s had over 20 doubles per year. He’s also going to sprinkle in a good number of triples, because the dude is fast. He’s one of the fastest players in the Major Leagues. In his last three full seasons, he’s averaged over 60 stolen bases per year! He’s going to get caught from time to time, but still, that’s insane. He could probably stand to walk more, but if he hits the way he’s capable of hitting, on-base percentage shouldn’t be an issue.
The biggest issue, of course, is what I mentioned earlier: he’s a second baseman! Robinson Cano, is also, a second baseman. Dee Gordon also has experience as a short stop. But, Jean Segura is our short stop. He just signed an extension in the middle of last season! Cano and Segura aren’t going anywhere. Ipso facto, the Mariners are making Dee Gordon convert to center field. Where he’s never played an inning of Major League ball.
And he’s got about 4 months to get it down.
Not that I have a choice in the matter, but I’m okay with the whole thing. My biggest concern is how well he does in his defensive conversion. I’ve seen plenty of players get shuffled around to other positions while at the Major League level, and it rarely has gone well. Usually, we’re talking about going from DH to first base, or catcher to first base, or first base to second base to outfield, or third base to corner outfield, and so on and so forth. The defense gets worse, and the hitting also suffers. If anything, it takes about a year to get acclimated, if they get acclimated at all! So, I wouldn’t say I’m on the bandwagon just yet.
I do like the idea, though. I mean, the guy is super fast, why WOULDN’T he at least be passable in center field? It’ll probably take some time before he gets to be elite, but that should come with experience. In the early going, how about he just makes the routine plays? Between that, and his elite bat at the top of the lineup, I’ll take it.
Speaking of that lineup, here’s a possibility:
- Dee Gordon (CF)
- Jean Segura (SS)
- Robinson Cano (2B)
- Nelson Cruz (DH)
- Kyle Seager (3B)
- Mitch Haniger (RF)
- Ryon Healy (1B)
- Mike Zunino (C)
- Ben Gamel (LF)
That’s pretty aces, from top to bottom. Now, whether we still have Ben Gamel when the season starts, I guess we’ll see. It’s probably a good sign that he’s featured in some of the promotional give-aways this season, but I guess they could always stop production on those.
Can’t have a trade without giving away some pieces. The Mariners gave away Chris Torres (a low level minor league short stop prospect with a lot of upside), Nick Neidert (probably the top pitching prospect in the M’s system who projects as a mid-rotation starter with low velocity but good command and change-up), and Robert Dugger (a relief pitching prospect). I don’t know if any of these guys will turn into anything, but that’s the risk, isn’t it? You’ll probably see Neidert in a Major League uniform sooner rather than later (maybe even as early as this season, considering the tank job the Marlins are pulling), and if he becomes a quality starting pitcher, that one could sting.
To lessen that sting, the Mariners also got $1 million in International Slot Money. Shohei Ohtani is a Japanese player who is both a quality starter and a quality hitter. He has narrowed down his field of prospective teams to seven, one of which includes the Mariners. Due to his very young age, he’s not entitled to the usual Free Agent money you’d see thrown around for posted Japanese players. But, he’s determined to come to America, and right now is trying to figure out where he fits best. The Mariners now have somewhere in the area of $3.5 million to offer him – which is the most among the seven remaining teams, by a small margin – but this was never really about money for Ohtani. Although, I’m sure the Mariners are thinking that if all things are equal in that regard, it’ll come down to where Seattle ranks among his potential destinations. The Mariners have a lot to offer, and many consider us to be the leaders of the pack, but I’m not gonna get my hopes up. Easier that way.
Lots more moves to go this off-season. One very important move could be coming in a matter of days.
UPDATE: And the move has been made. Shohei Ohtani to the Anaheim Angels. Between them and the Astros, maybe think about cancelling Mariners baseball for the next 3-5 years.