ARLINGTON, Texas — While the Mariners had Monday off from games before opening a Texas road swing with a quick two-game series with the Rangers, it was no off day for general manager Jerry Dipoto and the front office back in Seattle.
With the Major League Baseball trade deadline looming at 1 p.m. PT on Wednesday, they are trying maximize the small window of time in hopes of moving some of the remaining veterans on the 25-man roster as part of the roster reorganizing in their “step-back” plan.
“They don’t have many players that teams want,” a source with an American League team said of the players Seattle is looking to trade.
They’ve been trying to trade right-hander Mike Leake for the past two months after a proposed trade with the Diamondbacks was scuttled by Mariners ownership. Since then, the interest in Leake has been tepid from opposing teams. Seattle is still holding out hope that a contending team desperate for starting pitching would take Leake in a trade. One of those teams, the Philadelphia Phillies, addressed that need by acquiring veteran lefty Jason Vargas from the Mets.
Leake is scheduled to start Tuesday against the Rangers. He’s 9-8 with a 4.25 earned-run average this season and has been solid in his previous two outings. It’s unlikely a strong showing the day before the deadline would have an effect on the trade return, but it might solidify his standing for a team that’s wavering on the decision. The biggest obstacle in moving Leake isn’t his full no-trade clause, which he has said he’d waive for the right situation, but his salary. He’s still owed about $4 million of his $16 million salary this season and $15 million next season with the Cardinals picking up $4 million in 2020. There is also a $5 million buyout for a 2021 option.
A few teams do want Domingo Santana. There were rumors that both the Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays showed some interest in the slugging right fielder, who is slashing .273/.342/.475 with 19 doubles, a triple, 20 homers and 66 runs batted in in 102 games. He smashed an impressive solo homer in Sunday’s win over the Tigers.
Cleveland is desperate for a right-handed power bat in their lineup. They have an open spot at designated hitter, which would be key since Santana is dealing with elbow issues that don’t allow him to play outfield.
That injury issue might be prohibitive when it comes to the Rays. Multiple sources have indicated they may have cooled on acquiring Santana.
The Mariners and Rays have been frequent trade partners since Dipoto took over as Seattle’s general manager. And they had trade discussions earlier in the year for designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion. Seattle instead shipped Encarnacion to the Yankees and the Rays never got the power right-handed bat. Santana would fill that role. The Rays normally value defense and positional versatility. Even when healthy, Santana was a subpar defensive player in the outfield.
But from a financial standpoint, he fits well with both teams. He’s in his first year of salary arbitration and making just $1.95 million this season.
Seattle was looking to trade second baseman Dee Gordon. But a quad strain that landed Gordon on the injured list may have ended that possibility. Gordon is eligible to return from the IL on Aug. 1. But given his salary — he’s owed $14 million next season — and the nature of the injury, the Mariners may have to wait until the offseason to move Gordon.
Dipoto certainly isn’t dealing from a position of strength. And the removal of August waiver trades reduces a valuable 30 days where he could still move the veteran players. But if any GM is capable of getting creative enough to make these deals, it’s Dipoto.