The Mariners trade for Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez filled a major black hole in left field while also getting a potential bounce back candidate to step in for club legend Kyle Seager at third. While the cost was fairly cheap, it seems that president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto is done adding to his lineup as it stands right now.
Seattle is now in the hunt for starting pitching and it’s likely that they’ll have to acquire it via trade — none of the remaining starting pitchers on the free agent market are particualrly desirable.
Fortunately for Dipoto, the Oakland Athletics have started their traditional teardown and rebuild. The A’s have moved Matt Olson for a hefty price to Atlanta while the Blue Jays absolutely fleeced them for Matt Chapman. It seems likely that Oakland will also move its to starting pitchers that have anchored its rotation for the last five years.
Both Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas would make sense for Seattle and would immediately help add depth to a rotation that has the reigning AL Cy Young winner at its No. 1 spot.
Sean Manaea LHP
Manaea has more milage on is arm and is the older one. Despite that fact he’s really grown into his talent over the last couple of full seasons. In 2019 he only started five games, then struggled in the shortened Covid season before he performed more in line with (but still a little higher than) his career norms in 2021. There were several red flags in his 2021 season — a career high Barrel% at 8% makes me nervous — and those came with his home ballpark being even more pitcher friendly than T-Mobile.
Those red flags don’t lead to a ton of optimism that Manaea would be a good trade. But Steamer and ZiPS disagree with me — along with most of the other projections.
If, and that’s a big if, the 30 southpaw can come close to those projections this season than he’ll be a huge addition to the rotation. He’d probably slot in at the No. 3 spot behind Robbie Ray and Marco Gonzalez. Manaea would also be a consistent innings eater to take some stress off of a bullpen that was used excessively at times in 2021 — the lefty has started 20+ games in four out of the five 162-game seasons he’s been at the show for.
Frankie Montas RHP
The 28 year old had his breakout season in 2019 before he struggled with the truncated Spring Training in 2020. He was rounded back into form in 2021 with a ERA and FIP under 3.50 while he also allowed 0.96 home runs per nine innings; that led to the highest fWAR of his career to date.
Like Manea, Montas has also had a high barrel% in 2021 and that was also coupled with a hard hit rate of 42.2%. While T-Mobile is definitely a pitcher friendly park, hard hit balls are going to cause trouble with the huge outfield and the M’s questionable outfield defense.
That being said, the right hander is also two years younger than Montas and has over 200 innings less pitched — 2021 was his first full slate of starts. The value that a 28 year old with his skill set could provide to a franchise that just kicked open a new window of contention would be absolutely immense.
While either of these two pitchers would be a huge get for Seattle, I’d personally prefer Montas. He’s younger, has more dynamic stuff, and would his extension would probably cost less than the more experienced Manaea. The biggest down side to trading for the 28 year old is that he would require a prospect haul similar to what the Athletics got for Olson from Atlanta. And while that would make anyone squeamish, Seattle a chance now to not only end the playoff drought but assert itself into a championship window that the baseball club hasn’t seen since the early 2000s.
And from where I’m sitting, to achieve that goal and actually make it to the franchise’s first World Series (let alone win it) that’s a cost I’m willing to take on.
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