ARLINGTON, Texas — The anger and hurt from being blindsided Tuesday was gone. The focus on their daily preparation had returned to the Mariners before Friday’s game at Globe Life Field.
It’s what they do in the every-day nature of Major League Baseball. There’s always another game to be played. If they want to be successful, players have no choice but to forge ahead and move on from the day before, whether it was good or bad.
“We survived,” manager Scott Servais said. “The trade deadline is behind us, and we’re all still breathing, so it’s all good. I’m actually ready to get back to baseball on the field.”
They will resume the quest for the Mariners’ first postseason berth since 2001.
Closer Kendall Graveman is now a member of the Astros, and that isn’t going to change. The players the Mariners got in return — reliever Joe Smith and third baseman Abraham Toro — have mixed in with the team.
They have a new closer in Diego Castillo, which cost them teammate J.T. Chargois, and a new starter for their rotation in Tyler Anderson, whom they’ve faced a few times in the past.
Castillo played catch with the relievers before the pregame workouts while Anderson chatted with Yusei Kikuchi during batting practice after watching him throw a bullpen session with the rest of rotation.
“This is our team now,” one player said. “All we can do is go play.”
The morning of the MLB trade deadline evolved into transactional chaos right up to the 1 p.m. PT deadline. Contending teams raided the Cubs, Nationals, Marlins, Rangers and Pirates, grabbing proven players and paying for them with prospects and more prospects.
And in those remaining hours, the Mariners and general manager Jerry Dipoto, who has the reputation of being one of the most prolific traders, did not find the right matches to make another move.
“We had a couple of things going,” Dipoto said in a post-deadline video conference. “We weren’t going to fail for lack of trying. We came up short on the pursuits we did have. As I said going into this week, and really, through the end of the day, we are committed to this group of players, and we feel like we’ve improved our team. I’m pleased with the things that we’ve done.”
The Mariners made three moves in the days leading up to the deadline.
The additions: Anderson, Castillo, Smith and Toro.
The subtractions: Chargois, Graveman, Rafael Montero and three minor leaguers, third baseman Austin Shenton, catcher Carter Bins and right-handed pitcher Joaquin Tejada.
“I wish we could have done a little bit more, but it didn’t work out for us,” Dipoto said. “We were committed to not blocking the young players from getting experience. We knew we were walking a fine line, and we tried to walk it. I think we did it as effectively as we could.”
Following the trade of Graveman, Dipoto knew that the circumstances and timing of the deal — made necessary by the deadline of avoiding placing Montero on waivers — would generate a negative reaction. He said that the trade would make more sense after the deadline passed.
“This is the first move in what should be a succession of moves over the course of this week that I think will result in the present team looking deeper, and the future team looking deeper, and that’s been the goal throughout,” Dipoto said Tuesday. “The next moves will make a little bit more sense of it for the guys. I think they’ll find that we are very committed to adding to the team.”
Said one Mariners player: “It looks like lateral moves to me. We traded away our closer and a set-up man, and we got a closer with more club control and a set-up man with less.”
When Toro and Anderson were mentioned, the player replied, “Well, could you have got them without the other moves?”
Toro does seem to be the highlighted acquisition for the team.
“We feel like that it’s an opportunity to really create depth in our lineup with a switch-hitter, who I understand that the track record isn’t particularly long, but he’s been an above-average hitter at the major-league level this year to this point in a small sample,” Dipoto said. “We feel like that’s not accidental. We do feel like that it’s the start of what should be a really strong career for Abraham Toro.”
On Thursday, Dipoto said he wouldn’t get into a trading contest with teams who were also competing for the wild card. The A’s, who came into Friday 2.5 games ahead of Seattle for the second wild card, added Marlins All-Star outfielder Starling Marte, catcher Yan Gomes and utility infielder Josh Harrison. The Yankees, who were a game behind Seattle, picked up a pair of lefty sluggers in Joey Gallo of the Rangers and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, lefty reliever Joely Rodriguez of the Rangers and lefty starter Andrew Heaney of the Angels. The Blue Jays, who sat two games back of Seattle, traded for Twins ace Jose Berrios.
The Mariners weren’t opposed to adding those types of players. But they wouldn’t part with any of their top prospects, including outfielders Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic, prized pitchers George Kirby and Emerson Hancock and third baseman Noelvi Marte.
“We were just unwilling to meet the prices for the targets we did have,” Dipoto said. “Most of them did end up moving and some didn’t. It’s something we felt pretty committed to. We have to remain disciplined to the plan we set up.”
With the craziness of the hours leading up to the deadline, teams felt empowered to ask for those top prospects. Dipoto remained steadfast, refusing to give in to the emotion of the moment or this surprising season of success.
“We were resistant to trading our top prospects for short-term gain,” he said. “I’ve said throughout, we were willing to consider roughly consider anything if it allowed us to continue to build forward, but we were unable to do that. And obviously, we didn’t make any moves today as a result.”
So is the team better?
“I guess we’ll find out,” the player said.
Dipoto was more optimistic, believing Toro will help out a lineup that has been lacking and too left-hand hitting heavy.
“Logically, I feel like we just made the team better in the present, and we feel like we made the team considerably better for the future,” he said. “And that’s always been the line that we’re trying to walk here. I guess to juxtapose that to pouring it all in for a run as a wild-card threat and in a division where we trail the leader by a considerable amount. We couldn’t be that irresponsible. That would have been the wrong thing to do, and we had opportunities to do that.”