Seattle Mariners

With trade deadline nearing, Mariners complete minor deal. What’s next?

This isn’t on the level of the blockbuster trades Jerry Dipoto made during the offseason, but Mariners made another deal on Sunday night heading into baseball’s trading deadline on Wednesday.

Following that afternoon win over Detroit — Seattle has a five-game winning streak for the first time since April — utility player Kristopher Negron was in the clubhouse hugging teammates, and saying his farewells. About six hours later the Mariners officially announced he had been traded to the Dodgers for minor league infielder Daniel Castro, who will report to Triple-A Tacoma.

Sending Negron to L.A. also clears up a spot on Seattle’s 40-man roster, which will presumably be filled by recently-acquired outfielder Keon Broxton. Broxton was claimed off waivers Saturday from Baltimore.

As Wednesday’s deadline looms, the Mariners could continue their trend of swapping veterans for young players.

Seattle has been looking to deal veteran starter Mike Leake (9-8, 4.25 ERA) for much of the season, and reportedly neared a deal with the Diamondbacks in June, but it fell through. There haven’t been any more team-specific rumors regarding Leake since, but 31-year-old right-hander could offer a steadying presence at the back end of a contender’s starting rotation.

Leake and has allowed just three earned runs across 16 innings in his past two starts with one walk and 13 strikeouts. He is tied for the American League lead this season with two complete games.

Leake’s next projected start is Tuesday against the Rangers in Arlington, which he’s still projected to pitch in. In the fourth year of a five-year, $80 million contract, Leake has a full no-trade clause, and would have to approve any trade before Wednesday’s deadline, though he acknowledged after his most recent start, he feels like he’s been auditioning for a potential move all season.

“Unfortunately, and fortunately, I’ve been traded and kind of moved around for the last few years,” Leake said. “But it has given me the wherewithal to kind of know what to do in circumstances like this.”

Right fielder Domingo Santana, who missed three games last week with elbow soreness, has since returned to Seattle’s lineup as a designated hitter, and is reportedly drawing interest from the Indians and Rays. Santana is on a one-year, $1.95 million deal with the Mariners.

He is slashing at .273/.342/.475 with 19 doubles, 20 homers, 66 RBIs and 41 walks, and leads the Mariners in several offensive categories despite his MLB-leading 135 strikeouts.

His impressive offensive season could make him an intriguing middle-of-the-lineup addition to a contender. Though, it would likely be as a DH for the time being. He’s not projected to return to the outfield for some time as his elbow recovers. He only boosted his value by belting his 20th homer of the season in Sunday’s win over the Tigers.

Seattle has made deals with both Cleveland and Tampa Bay in the offseason. The Mariners acquired Edwin Encarnacion — who they’ve since traded to the Yankees — from the Indians in a three-team deal that sent Carlos Santana to Cleveland. They got center fielder Mallex Smith and up-and-coming outfielder Jake Fraley from the Rays as part of the Mike Zunino deal.

Second baseman Dee Gordon has also been the subject of some trade rumors, but is currently on the 10-day IL with a quad strain. Though he’s projected to return ahead of schedule, the injury could make any possible deals more difficult to complete.

Relievers Cory Gearrin and Roenis Elias have been mentioned as other possible trade targets.

Negron had just wrapped up his 10th appearance with the Mariners after being recalled from Triple-A on July 16. He was 5-for-23 with three runs scored, on RBI, one stolen base and two walks in his brief stint. The 33-year-old spent 18 games with Seattle last season after being acquired from the Diamondbacks last August.

He was outrighted off Seattle’s 40-man roster this spring, after losing the utility role battle to rookie Dylan Moore. Negron spent the majority of the season with Tacoma, slashing .310/.396/.503 there with 15 doubles, four triples, 12 home runs and 61 RBIs.

With major league experience at seven positions — he’s started at every position but pitcher and catcher — Negron was recalled by Seattle earlier this month to help fill gaps created by Seattle’s seemingly never-ending cycle of injuries. He will likely play a similar part in Los Angeles, as a backup in the Dodgers’ ailing infield.

Negron has played parts of six major league seasons with three different clubs, though never in a pivotal role, and never more than 49 games in a single season, meaning the Mariners didn’t get too much in return.

Castro has played 98 games at the major league level — 80 with Atlanta in two seasons, and 18 with Colorado last year — after debuting in 2015 with the Braves. The 26-year-old has appeared at second base, shortstop and third in the majors, and has a career slash line of .210/.240/.265.

He’s been on the injured list since May, is currently on a rehab assignment in the Arizona Rookie League, and played Sunday night there ahead of the announcement. Before his injury, Castro hit .241 with 17 runs scored, six doubles, one homer, 11 RBIs, 13 walks and 15 stolen bases in 45 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Lauren Smith covers the Seattle Mariners for The News Tribune. She previously covered high school sports at TNT and The Olympian, beginning in 2015. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and Emerald Ridge High School.
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