The All-Star break is still a week away, but the Seattle Mariners have already passed the midway point of their step-back season.
Here’s a look the trades Jerry Dipoto made in the offseason and how they’ve impacted the season so far and what the team has to show for the flurry of moves the team’s GM made:
1. The Mets trade
The Mariners made meaningful trades before December, but the deal that sent Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz and cash to the New York Mets was the most eye-popping.
Two players that were key pieces of past Seattle teams were suddenly gone, and Seattle got two veterans — Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak — and a trio of minor leaguers in return.
Maybe it didn’t look like that trade favored the Mariners then, but it certainly does now.
Though Bruce has been traded to the Phillies since, and Swarzak to the Braves, two of the three prospects the Mariners received from the Mets have been selected to next week’s All-Star Futures Game.
Outfielder Jarred Kelenic, who has already been promoted from low Single-A West Virginia to high Single-A Modesto this season, and right-handed starter Justin Dunn, who is with Double-A Arkansas, were picked to the game as was former Mariners draftee Evan White.
“I’m excited,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said recently. “We should have three. We’ve got a good minor league system, and some guys are having some really good seasons. I totally expected Kelenic would make it, but great for Justin Dunn, awesome for Evan White, and we probably have a few others that could have (made the roster) as well.
“We’ve got a lot of positive things going down, down on the farm, and we should. We traded a lot of good players away to get some good young players, so anxious for those guys to eventually get here.”
Kelenic is considered the No. 24 prospect in all of baseball, and lit up the South Atlantic League with 11 homers West Virginia. Since moving to Modesto, he has hit safely in 10 of 15 games with three doubles, a triple and two homers.
Dunn is the No. 2 prospect in Seattle’s organization and ranked No. 67 in baseball. He was named to the Texas League All-Star Game, and pitched a scoreless inning, after compiling a 5-3 record and 3.45 ERA in 14 starts. He has 90 strikeouts and 21 walks over 70 1/3 innings.
The other prospect the Mariners got in the trade, right-handed reliever Gerson Bautista, has MLB experience, though he is currently with Triple-A to work on harnessing a fastball that can reach triple digits. He is the No. 25 prospect in Seattle’s organization.
Meanwhile, Diaz has stumbled recently, allowing nine earned runs across 8 2/3 innings in June to push his season ERA to 4.94 in 33 appearances. He has 16 saves, but has blown four in the past two months, after leading the majors with 57 saves last season for Seattle.
Cano has spent a decent amount of the season on the injured list with left quad problems, and has missed more than 30 percent of New York’s season. He has a .227/.274/.361 slash line in the 58 games he has appeared in, far beneath his career slash of .302/.352/.490.
2. The Philadelphia trade
Jean Segura is having arguably one of the best seasons of any of the players the Mariners traded away during the offseason, but in return for the hot-hitting shortstop, Seattle got the shortstop they want to build their future around in J.P. Crawford from the Phillies.
Segura is slashing at .270/.315/.453 with 18 doubles, three triples, 10 homers and 38 RBIs for Philadelphia in 72 games, but Crawford has been as impressive over a shorter stretch.
He was called up from Tacoma in May, and despite a stint on the IL with an ankle sprain, he has slashed at .319/.383/.496 with 11 doubles, two triples, two homers and 21 RBIs in 31 games.
“J.P.’s in a really good spot,” Servais said recently. “I thought he was playing great before he had the setback with the ankle injury, and he came back and has not missed a beat. Very confident.
“Really happy with where J.P. is at, and where he continues to grow forward with him. I just like his demeanor, how he’s carrying himself on the field and it’s been really good.”
Philadelphia also got right-hander Juan Nicasio in the deal, who is 1-2 with a 3.74 ERA in 30 relief appearances, as well as left-hander James Pazos, who is now pitching for Triple-A Albuquerque in Colorado’s system.
Seattle also received first baseman Carlos Santana in the trade, but he was quickly turned around and sent to Cleveland in the deal for Edwin Encarnacion.
3. Tampa Bay trade
During the first month-plus, the Mariners didn’t exactly see what they expected out of center fielder Mallex Smith, who arrived in the Mike Zunino deal from Tampa Bay in November.
Smith was sent to regroup with Triple-A Tacoma in May, but his production returning from that stint in the minors, has certainly helped tip the trade in the Mariners’ direction.
“Since we got into June, Mallex has kind of been the Mallex Smith we were expecting, which is great to see,” Servais said recently.
A hot streak in June has pushed Smith’s previously iffy season slash to .230/.303/.363 in a hurry. He has 11 doubles, four triples, five homers and his 21 stolen bases rank second in the majors.
Outfielder Jake Fraley, who the Mariners also acquired in the deal, has ripped through the minor leagues, earning a promotion to Triple-A earlier this month, and it’s possible he makes an appearance in Seattle by the end of the season.
He’s hitting at a .281/.324/.594 clip with six extra-base hits after his first week with Tacoma.
Though he was one of the best defensive catchers the Mariners have had in their history, Zunino has run into the same struggles at the plate with the Rays, hitting just .182/.232/.318 with 50 strikeouts in 45 games. He spent a good portion of May on the IL.
Outfielder Guillermo Heredia has fared better for Tampa Bay, hitting .229/.319/.343 in 50 games, but Seattle’s early returns seem to be greater. The other Rays acquisition in the deal, left-hander Michael Plassmeyer, is pitching in A-ball.
4. White Sox trade
In Omar Narvaez, the Mariners acquired a catcher at the end of November whose name has come up in All-Star conversations.
Narvaez, who came to Seattle from the White Sox in exchange for right-hander Alex Colome, has put together one of the best offensive seasons among catchers in the majors to this point, hitting .291/.368/.467 with seven doubles, 11 homers and 29 RBIs in 69 games, and the receiving skills are coming along, too.