The non-waiver trade deadline passed at 1 p.m. on Monday with the Mariners being largely inactive. Their only move came on Saturday, sending Wade Miley to the Orioles for left-handed pitcher Ariel Miranda.
The Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline passed at 1 p.m. Pacific time Monday with a flurry of activity and dozens of trades, including several deals in the final minutes.
But general manager Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners weren’t part of that frenzy.
Though division leaders Texas, Cleveland and Baltimore made moves to improve their rosters, the Mariners didn’t complete a deal Monday. They had just one trade during the frantic period of transactions — sending Wade Miley to the Orioles for pitcher Ariel Miranda on Sunday.
“We had a lot of oars in the water,, but obviously nothing else came to fruition after we finished the Miley-Miranda deal,” Dipoto said Monday at Safeco Field. “It was not for lack of trying to be creative and trying to get some things done. We said throughout that we were going to do the best we could to be opportunistic. And the opportunity didn’t fall to us.”
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This is what happens with teams that are treading water at around .500, playing with no signs of sustained traction and lacking a farm system with legitimate prospect depth to trade. There is an imaginary line between being aggressive and prudent for general managers, and understanding your place in the standings and ability to move up.
“The greatest opportunities we had were to sell off,” Dipoto said. “And that’s just not something we were willing to do. We feel like the core of this team is still very good. It’s very difficult for us. We’re a game over .500. We are realistic about where we are in this playoff push. We feel like we have a chance in August and September, but obviously a lot of things would have to break right for us. The best thing we can do is focus on the good parts of our roster and how we are going to transition into 2017, ’18, ’19. So many good things are happening in our organization below us, and we don’t want to forsake that, either. I think we did the right thing. We kept the pieces that made the most sense for us. And we found value where we could find value.”
At 52-51 entering Monday, they were five games back in the American League wild-card standings with four teams in front of them for the second spot. They didn’t have enough in high-level prospects to make multiple additions via trade. Their only option was to take on more money in contracts, which seemed viable when Miley was traded. But with no other moves made, the easy perception is to consider the Miley move a salary dump by an organization that isn’t financially strapped.
“You can look at it however you want to look at it,” Dipoto said. “We’ve got our own reasons for making the deals, and we thought this was something that better suited our organization right now.”
The Mariners appeared to decide that Miley’s value in terms of the money owed to him the rest of this year and next — almost $11 million — had dissipated. Instead of being on the hook for the contract of a 29-year-old pitcher they didn’t consider part of their future and one who was showing signs of regression, they found another team to take the contract and got a 27-year-old left-hander with club control in return.
“We wanted to become a little bit more flexible,” Dipoto said. “Getting Miranda, we get a guy that ‘s a tick younger, does have a little bit more power and probably profiles to be either a starter or reliever, and we get to sort through it. He also provides flexibility in his ability to be optioned to Triple A if need be. You’re probably going to see him (in the majors) in the near future and see what he’s all about. Really, it just wasn’t working here with Wade. He had a great start for us on Saturday, and we’ll give him an opportunity go move along to another contender.”
The Mariners were in discussions with the Cincinnati Reds for much of Monday to acquire shortstop Zack Cozart. The would have acquired a proven shortstop under club control for 2017 to solidify a position of weakness. Ketel Marte has struggled in his first full season at the big-league level. Cozart represented an upgrade for this season and next at a team-friendly rate.
But the deal broke down. Much of the Reds’ focus was on moving outfielder Jay Bruce. That eventual deal with the Mets had several iterations. And the return from the Mets could have had some effect on the Mariners’ possible deal for Cozart.
Dipoto wouldn’t divulge the process or details. But he said they were 30 seconds from finalizing at least one trade and similarly close on others.
“But that’s not unusual at the trade deadline,” he said. “We had a lot of things going on, some that came much closer than others, which is not that uncommon. Some got very deep into the deal-making phase, and we just couldn’t come to pass.”
Though the Mariners mostly were bystanders during this process, they still can make waiver trades until Sept. 1. By rule, a player must clear waivers before being traded. First baseman Adam Lind, closer Steve Cishek and catcher Chris Iannetta could be candidates for those types of moves.
“We are going to have something on the market in August,” he said. “I guarantee there will be more activity throughout the league, and we’ll probably in the center of that again.”