Seattle Mariners should follow through with fire sale

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 27: Jean Segura #2 (L) and Robinson Cano #22 of the Seattle Mariners have a conversation while walking back to the dugout after the fifth inning during their game at Safeco Field on September 27, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 27: Jean Segura #2 (L) and Robinson Cano #22 of the Seattle Mariners have a conversation while walking back to the dugout after the fifth inning during their game at Safeco Field on September 27, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Seattle Mariners are reportedly considering going through a rebuild. Given their current situation, they would be wise to tear it down.

In 2001, the Seattle Mariners won a record-setting 116 games before losing to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. Since then, the Yankees have made the postseason 13 times, while the Mariners have not returned to October baseball. Unfortunately for Seattle, their 17-year postseason drought is the longest in professional sports.

The Mariners are by no means a bad team. Despite losing Robinson Cano for half the season while he served his suspension, Seattle won 89 games in 2018. Most teams would love to finish with 89 wins, and that would typically be enough to at least be in the hunt for a postseason spot.

However, the Mariners knew that their postseason drought would live on by mid-September. When all was said and done, they found themselves 14 games back in the American League West and eight games back in the Wild Card race.

Unfortunately, there is not a light at the end of the tunnel for the Mariners. In a division featuring two 90-win teams, not to mention the best player in baseball, Seattle plays one of the most rigorous schedules in the league. Add in the fact that the Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics are trending upwards, while the Mariners do not have a single top-100 prospect, and it is not looking too good for Seattle.

Unless something drastically changes, the Mariners’ postseason drought has at least a few years left in it. With this in mind, Seattle’s front office is reportedly considering a fire sale and rebuild.

If the Seattle Mariners decide to follow through with their fire sale, they have several pieces that should garner quite a bit of interest. Edwin Diaz, Mitch Haniger, and Marco Gonzales would likely be off the table, but everyone else could be had for the right price.

James Paxton is the Mariners’ best trade chip, but he comes with some red flags. He is on the wrong side of thirty and has never come close to 200 innings. The southpaw has also dealt with forearm and elbow issues in each of the last two seasons, which is frequently a precursor to Tommy John Surgery.

While Paxton is flawed, he owns a 3.42 career ERA and has two inexpensive years of team control remaining. With Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel highlighting the free agent market and Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco on the trade block, Paxton’s name should be thrown around in quite a few trade discussions.

Although Diaz probably is not going anywhere, Alex Colome and James Pazos could improve any bullpen.

Colome has established himself as a reliable late-inning reliever and is just one year removed from a 47-save season. He has set up for Diaz in Seattle, but did not miss a beat in his transition to a new team and role. The 29-year-old right-hander owns a 3.12 career ERA and has two years of team control remaining.

Pazos is not as established as Colome, but he is well on his way. The 27-year-old lefty has pitched to a 3.39 ERA over the last two seasons, while dominating hitters with a lethal fastball-slider combination. It will take a lot to pry Pazos out of Seattle, though, considering he has four years of team control remaining and earned just $553,900 in 2018.

In terms of position players, Cano, Jean Segura, Kyle Seager, Mike Zunino, Dee Gordon, and Ben Gamel should garner at least a little interest.

Cano has remained productive into his late-thirties, but he will be a tough sell for Seattle. His PED suspension is still fresh in everyone’s mind, and he is signed for another five seasons at $24 million a year. The veteran infielder also has a full no-trade clause, which makes a deal appear nearly impossible.

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Like Cano, Segura would be difficult to move. The 28-year-old shortstop has hit at least .300 in each of the last three seasons, but has a no-trade clause as well. However, he may be inclined to waive his no-trade clause if the Mariners decide to begin a rebuild.

Seager has spent most of his career as an under-the-radar superstar, but he has been steadily declining over the last few years. He is now on the wrong side of 30 and posted career-lows in most offensive categories in 2018. A change of scenery could help him return to form, but his stock is at an all-time low.

Zunino, a 27-year-old catcher, is perhaps the most likely Mariner to be on the move this winter. He has posted two consecutive 20-homer seasons in an era of weak-hitting catchers, making him a rare commodity. The Tampa Bay Rays have reportedly already checked in on the veteran backstop, and other teams will likely do the same as the offseason progresses.

Gordon could also be in high-demand this winter. After spending the first seven seasons of his career as a second baseman, the Mariners acquired him to be their everyday center fielder in 2018. He ended up primarily playing second base after Cano was suspended, but held his own in center field. Utility players are becoming increasingly valuable, making Gordon a fit on a number of teams.

Last but not least, Gamel could be on the move. The 26-year-old outfielder has hit .274 over the last two seasons, while being a solid defender at all three outfield positions. For a team seeking a young, controllable outfielder, Gamel deserves serious consideration.

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The Seattle Mariners find themselves in an extremely difficult situation. On one hand, they won nearly 90 games in 2018 and could be on the brink of finally ending their postseason drought. On the other hand, their future does not look promising and they play in one of the best divisions in the league. Rebuilding has become a popular strategy in today’s game, and the Mariners would be wise to give it a shot.