Then you have more ammo for a move like Sonny Gray. If it costs you Lewis, at least you have another OFer still around with big upside that you can move or use as you like. Since I think Kyle Lewis is a Grady-Sizemore-level player, I'd rather not do that. But I know why Oakland would want that back. Lewis is still getting back on his feet after the devastating knee injury though - his value isn't peak.
After the system-gutting this offseason, the Mariners basically had the following types at the top of their system:
- Grady Sizemore (Lewis)
- George Springer (Tank O'Neill)
- Mike Leake (Neidert, with maybe a touch of Roy Oswalt)
- Ian Kennedy (Moore).
'Bach is a slow-learning Billy Butler type, but that really limits his options. Povse was a potential MOR guy who is now a bullpenner. They have some bullpen arms. But that's legitimately it at the top of the farm unless you believe in one of the centerfielders (Bishop, Miller, Taylor).
We just threw the George Springer type overboard for a Jason Vargas one, which... limits the upside bidding a bit. I don't think Tank is anywhere near realizing his potential in the bigs, but without his value in the system it's really hard to make a trade work, even after adding a Brandon Belt (White) and baby AJ Burnett (Carlson).
As I said last week: I think Seattle threw away its chance to add someone like Darvish or Gray when they traded O'Neill. You can tell me all you want that the Mariners' outfield is loaded. I just watched Motter get booked and demoted, Haniger is OPSing under .500 the last month, Gamel is BABIPing .420 for the year while only hitting fastballs, and Heredia has an 87 OPS+ on a corner. And like Doc said, Dyson's contract is 2 months from turning back into a pumpkin.
I was in on O'Neill, Neidert, and fluff for Gray. Lewis takes O'Neill's outfield spot, and Gray is where we want Neidert anyway. That would have been Seattle's #2 and #3 prospects, essentially, which is a pretty big payment. Instead Dipoto traded our #2 prospect for what is essentially now our #11 prospect (hey Marco), and now in order to make the deal Seattle would need to dump the only hitting All-Star I see in the system, no offense to Evan White. It's just hard to be an All-Star when I think you'll hit more like David Segui. That puts all the growth requirements in the next two years on players who are already on the big-league club.
Several key parts of this team are about to age out. Felix is in the middle of a makeover, Kuma is done, Paxton is 18 months from getting a nine-figure deal, Cruz's roid-purchased aging curve is nearing its end, and Cano has about one more year like this (historically) unless he's juicing like Jeff Kent. I get the sense of urgency.
I also just spent the last 16 years watching the Mariners tell me that it was about "Reloading not rebuilding" and mocking the Indians and their teardown. I saw them trade the offensive face of the franchise to Baltimore and ditch the #3 pitcher they needed to make the playoffs for scraps. Maybe I'm gunshy now, or maybe I just don't believe this group is going to do more than squeeze into the playoffs.
Making the Sonny Gray trade now after the rest of Dipoto's moves would put Seattle in a redux of the Smyly trade. Maybe it works out this time, or maybe it's the final nail for this year's team and caps the Mariners for years to come. Most GMs are not stewards of the franchise, and the guys who should have been were terrible at it. Gillick gutted us for a really intentional run at a title. Dipoto is starting a bit late on that window.
I'm just praying we don't get shards of glass in our faces by jumping through it when it's already shut.