Heading into June, the safest bet in baseball was the one hinging on the Seattle Mariners trading away veterans ahead of the July 31 deadline. General manager Jerry Dipoto needs little cajoling to wheel and deal ballplayers with the capricious nature often reserved for schoolchildren at lunchtime. Yet Dipoto has plenty persuading him to continue the teardown he started during the winter. For one, the Mariners have collapsed, going 18-42 after beginning the season 13-2. For another, Dipoto's boss -- the club owner -- reportedly wants anyone making real money stripped from the roster, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman:
Source says word from Mariners ownership is: Trade anyone making $. Leake and Gordon likely 2 they’d most love to move next then (though they’d have to pay both way down to do so) https://t.co/uhwKf4ulna— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 16, 2019
Dipoto has already taken the mandate to heart by trading away Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion. In both deals, the Mariners sent money (about $29 million in total) without receiving an impressive return. The focus seems to be on saving costs where costs can be saved rather than leveraging Seattle's financial might to acquire the best prospects possible. That's rebuilding the right way -- if the right way concerns only the owner's wallet.
As Heyman notes, the Mariners may have to follow the same blueprint over the ensuing six-plus weeks if they're to fulfill ownership's wish. The best-compensated Mariners are Felix Hernandez, Kyle Seager, Mike Leake, and Dee Gordon -- and none of them are necessarily attractive trade chips. Still, those are the players -- okay, salaries -- that ownership wants gone. With the exception of rookie starter Yusei Kikuchi, everyone else on the roster is making less than $5 million this season. (Heck, remove injured reliever Arodys Vizcaino from the equation, and only one other Mariners player is making more than $2 million in 2019.)
Dipoto has three choices ahead of him. He can eat as much of the money owed to those veterans as it takes to move them, thereby saving a couple million a pop; he can attach a more attractive piece to the veteran in question to sweeten the pot -- the way he did over the winter by including Edwin Diaz in the Robinson Cano trade; or he can do neither of the above and irritate his boss. We're going to go out on a limb and say one (or both) of the first two are likeliest.
With that in mind, we decided to put ourselves in Dipoto's place and dream up three fake trades that would 1) make sense for both teams involved and 2) ease the financial burden on Seattle's poor billionaire owner.