After completing a seven-player trade on the eve of the MLB trade deadline, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto and Padres general manager A.J. Preller worked one last deal before the 1 p.m. deadline Monday.
The Mariners sent their de facto closer, Taylor Williams, a hard-throwing right-hander out of Camas, to the Padres in exchange for a player to be named later.
Acquired as a waiver claim from the Brewers during spring training on Feb. 19, Williams pitched his way onto the opening-day roster, using a mid-90s fastball and nasty slider. He made nine appearances for Seattle this season, notching six saves while posting a 5.93 ERA. In 13 2/3 innings pitched, he struck out 19 batters with seven walks.
It was the Mariners’ fourth trade in the last nine days:
- Aug. 23: After designating Daniel Vogelbach for assignment Aug. 19, the Mariners traded him to the Blue Jays for cash considerations.
- Aug. 27: Hours before he was scheduled to start against the Padres, right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker was traded to the Blue Jays for a player to be named later.
- Aug. 30: The Mariners sent catcher Austin Nola and right-handed relievers Austin Adams and Dan Altavilla to the Padres in exchange for touted outfield prospect Taylor Trammell, infielder Ty France, catcher Luis Torrens and hard-throwing right-handed pitcher Andres Munoz.
- Aug. 31: Mariners trade right-handed pitcher Taylor Williams to the Padres for a player to be named later.
“We 100% expected to execute the Taijuan Walker trade, whether it be with Toronto or one of the other teams that had been in discussions with us,” Dipoto said during video conference on Monday afternoon.
And after that, Dipoto expected a quiet trade deadline. The Mariners weren’t interested in moving their young prospects. And their older players didn’t expect to draw much interest.
But then Preller went on a trading spree that even Dipoto could never match.
“The last two deals with the Padres came a little bit unexpected,” he said. “The Padres had called repeatedly on Austin Nola and we had repeatedly rebuffed the the interest, and ultimately the return just became too big for us to pass up in our minds. The end result of those discussions was understanding their interest in Taylor Williams, which led to the third deal. So a really interesting 72 hours, to say the least. The final days were pretty hectic, especially the last half-hour or so.”
Indeed, Dipoto said they sent the trade for Williams to Major League Baseball with about a minute remaining to the 1 p.m. deadline.
Due to the 2020 rules where all trades must be handled with players in a team’s 60-player pool, the prospect the Mariners are acquiring from the Padres must remain a player to be named later. It will be finalized likely when the 2020 season comes to an end.
“We know the players are currently working out,” Dipoto said. “We do have oversight as to what they’re doing in their development. Those players don’t yet know that they are traded. They will ultimately be with the Mariners, but we do have our hands on the steering wheel with their development.”
Though Dennis Lin of The Athletic reported that the Padres’ player to be named later for Williams is right-handed pitcher Matt Brash, a fourth-round choice in the 2019 draft out of Niagara College. Brash made five appearances (one at rookie league, four at Class A Fort Wayne) last season, posting a 2.08 ERA in 5 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts and no walks. He fits a reliever profile with a mid-90s fastball and slider.
Obviously, the seven-player deal garnered the headlines because of the player return that included Trammell, a consensus top-100 prospect in baseball, France, who will get every-day at-bats with the Mariners in the last month of the season, Torrens, who will handle the bulk of the catching duties in September, and Munoz, who is a flame-throwing reliever recovering from Tommy John surgery.
It also speaks to how much Nola’s value increased by showing he could handle catching duties at the MLB level.
“Exponentially,” Dipoto said. “He did a ton for his value in addition to really cementing himself as a real factor as an everyday major-league player, regardless of what position he plays. Like everybody else in the organization, I love Austin Nola — what he represents, what he’s about, the way he prepares, the performance that he brought us. The way he went out and performed really was a whirlwind year and a half. He’s had a great run. This was a difficult decision for us to make based on how good Austin has been for us. But again, the return was too considerable.”
Trammell drove up from the Padres alternate training site in San Diego and joined the Mariners traveling party in Anaheim on Monday. He’ll fly back to Seattle with the team and report to the alternate training site in Tacoma.
Dipoto said France and Torrens will fly commercially to Seattle and go through intake testing protocols, which should take about 48 hours. With the Mariners’ first two games of the homestand postponed due to a positive COVID test on the A’s, they could be ready to be activated when the Mariners resume playing Thursday or Friday.