Should the Mariners trade for Blake Snell?

by | Dec 10, 2020 | General | 0 comments

The Seattle Mariners, just like the rest of the MLB, have had a very slow offseason so far. With most big league teams opting to cut player salaries this winter, in part to recoup losses from the lack of fans in the stands during the abbreviated 2020 season, most of the transactions around the league have been good veteran players getting non-tendered to save money.

The Mariners have a great opportunity to use this to their advantage, with outfielders like Kyle Schwarber, Eddie Rosario and David Dahl all options to pursue – as well as relievers like Brad Hand, Cam Bedrosian and Jake McGee.

However – one of the most notable players the team could opt to pursue is Tampa Bay left-hander Blake Snell, a local product who is on the trade market after a rather strained ending to his season, when he was pulled early from Game 6 of the World Series in favor of Nick Anderson, who promptly gave up the series ending run.

Snell, 28, was born and raised in Shoreline, Washington, mere minutes from T-Mobile Park, and he was/is a diehard University of Washington fan. He committed to play for UW’s baseball team, but ultimately followed his dream and signed with the Rays as a first round pick in 2011.

Now, the former Cy Young winner is on the market, and the Mariners absolutely have the pieces to acquire him in a deal. But should they?

Snell is under contract through the 2023 season, and will cost about $10 million per year. That’s an incredible steal for a pitcher of his caliber, which no doubt means the Rays will be looking for a king’s ransom in return for Snell’s services, as they should.

For the M’s, ‘a king’s ransom’ is code for one of Jarred Kelenic or Julio Rodriguez, and it is my belief that the team should not engage any further if they would need to move either of them for three years of Snell.

While moving prospects for established MLB players is what teams hoping to claw their way into relevance should be doing, it’s too early for the Mariners to commit to going from a rebuilding team to a contending team, and Snell’s three year deal doesn’t quite line up with Seattle’s contention window. I believe the Mariners are at least a full year away from really putting all their chips on the table, and so having at least 33% of Snell’s contract be wasted on a rebuilding year seems silly, especially if it costs them one of the very key pieces they are building around.

Kelenic and Rodriguez, alongside Kyle Lewis, are foundational pieces of this team’s future, and giving them up for a player who is currently in his prime, before the team is ready to go all-in, just doesn’t make a lot of sense for this team at this time.

However, if Seattle can somehow make a deal for Snell work without giving up either Kelenic or Rodriguez, or shortstop Noelvi Marte, then this could be a deal to get behind. A package including Taylor Trammell, George Kirby and a third piece (maybe Shed Long, Luis Torrens, Sam Carlson or Juan Then) is something I would strongly consider offering if I was Seattle – although I suspect Tampa Bay wouldn’t be interested.

Snell is a local guy and a great pitcher, and it is easy to see why sliding him into a rotation with Marco Gonzales, Justus Sheffield and Yusei Kikuchi would be pretty fun – and very left-handed – but the timing isn’t quite right, and Mariners fans should be prepared to be patient for at least one more season. I firmly believe, however, the payoff will be well worth it.

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