Mariners

Why the Mark Trumbo trade will not lift the Mariners to the top of the AL West

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

In the midst of a losing streak marred by poor offense, the Seattle Mariners acquired slugger Mark Trumbo from the Arizona Diamondbacks last week.

Trumbo has the right-handed power the Mariners seemingly desperately covet and had been a rumored target of the time for quite some time. After three consecutive years with at least 29 home runs with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Trumbo struggled last season in Arizona, but was off to a nice 115 wRC+ start in 2015 before heading to Seattle.

On the surface, the deal makes enough sense for Seattle. Trumbo can DH as an upgrade over Rickie Weeks, allowing the Mariners to put Seth Smith and Nelson Cruz in the lineup while taking Dustin Ackley out. He’ll also provide first base depth should Logan Morrison ever need a day off and occasionally play some left field.

The four-player cost of Welington Castillo, Dominic Leone, Jack Reinheimer and Gabby Guerrero shouldn’t come back to hurt the Mariners much, either. Guerrero is easily the most interesting player there, but is struggling mightily in Double-A this season and is more of a lottery ticket than cant-miss prospect.

Not to be forgotten is that the Mariners also grabbed pitcher Vidal Nuno in the trade. Nuno has had some success out of the bullpen this year and could be an upgrade over the struggling Leone and also provides some much-needed starting pitching depth.

Overall, this is a solid enough deal for the Mariners. It still doesn’t appear to be enough to bring Seattle to the top of the AL West.

Even at his best, Trumbo was around a two-win player. Trumbo represents a small upgrade for the offense, but Seattle needs some other things to start going well to have a shot at the postseason.

The Mariners simply aren’t going to compete if Robinson Cano keeps hitting at a 69 wRC+ pace. It would also be nice to get anything at all out of Ackley or Mike Zunino at the plate.

While the cost of the actual trade wasn’t much for the Mariners, the player they had to cut to make room for Trumbo was. For some unknown reason, the Mariners designated Justin Ruggiano for assignment rather than Weeks. Ruggiano was the team’s best corner outfield defender, and now the Mariners will have to use a lot of Cruz, Smith and Trumbo in the field as a result.

The current normal bench of Ackley, Jesus Sucre, Weeks and Willie Bloomquist is not good enough for a contender. Seattle isn’t going to get anything on offense from that, and only the former two have any defensive value. The Mariners will have to hope someone in Tacoma like Chris Taylor or Franklin Gutierrez can provide at least something, or make another move.

Still, there are a few reasons to be optimistic. The starting pitching has been great as of late, Kyle Seager and Logan Morrison are hitting well, and Austin Jackson is finally starting to show the play he’s capable of.

Acquiring Trumbo helps the Mariners slightly, but there’s still a lot of work to be done if they are going to chase down the AL West leaders.

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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is a journalism student at the University of Washington, currently covering sports for The UW Daily in addition to Sports Out West. He has been closely following Seattle sports his entire life.
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