The Seattle Mariners shipped off their most desirable trade chip on Thursday or at least the most valuable trade chip they had a good chance of trading. While Taijuan Walker made a lot of sense to trade away, Seattle has several players who have more value than Walker but aren’t likely to be dealt like Austin Nola and Marco Gonzales. Both of these players would surely have value to other teams, but they also have immense value to the Mariners, especially Gonzales.
Here’s the thing when it comes to Marco: we know that other teams have been calling the Mariners for weeks. We also know that the talks didn’t get far. Seattle loves Marco Gonzales. They gave him a 4-year extension, with a 5th year option, in the winter and they didn’t even need to. Gonzales still had 3-years of club control after 2020 but the Mariners view Gonzales as a leader whose meant to be example their increasingly younger pitching staff is to aspire to be. He also happens to be the only sure thing on the starting pitching side in the entire organization.
It seems weird to say, especially when you consider the triumvirate of Emerson Hancock, Logan Gilbert, and George Kirby all close to MLB ready. But they aren’t bonafide big leaguers yet and as much as we have liked what we’ve seen from Nick Margevicius, Justus Sheffield, Yusei Kikuchi, and Justin Dunn, we don’t have a big enough sample size to say they are safe. Gonzales is a sure bet.
The sure bet isn’t that Gonzales is an ace and he lacks the kind of stuff that teams fall over trying to acquire. But he’s a safe bet to give you 160+ innings of above-average baseball and post a WAR in the 3-4 win range. That has value, both to the Mariners and other teams. But if other teams aren’t going to value Gonzales as such because he’s not a flamethrower, and they haven’t yet, Seattle won’t, and shouldn’t, trade him.
But the question for today’s article is not “should or will Seattle trade Gonzales”? We want to know what would it take for Seattle TO trade Marco Gonzales. The short answer is “a lot”. Again, Gonzales is young, controlled, fits the timeline and the organization, and is viewed as a leader. All of those factors weigh in to the Mariners decision. The term “an offer they can’t refuse” is applicable here. But what does that look like?
Honestly, it probably looks similar to what the White Sox got for Jose Quintana in 2017. In that deal the White Sox acquired one potential All-Star player (Eloy Jiminez), a solid MLB quality pitcher with upside (Dylan Cease) and two lottery tickets (Matt Rose, Bryant Flete). At that point, Quintana had 3.5 years of club control, was 28-years-old, and was coming off a 3.4 bWAR season. Gonzales has at least 4-years of club control, is 28-years old, and is coming off a 3.4 bWAR season. It’s a pretty good comp and it doesn’t factor that Seattle is getting close to coming out of a rebuild where Chicago was at the beginning of their rebuild.
So using the Quintana deal as a guide, you can build your own trade packages. But for fun, here is what a similar trade package would look like if the Mariners were trying to acquire Gonzales from another team. Seattle would likely have to part with Julio Rodriguez, George Kirby, Sam Delaplane, and Tim Elliot. Would you be willing to make that trade? Probably not. And most teams in baseball wouldn’t either (most teams in baseball couldn’t afford to).
For a team like the Yankees to acquire Gonzales, Seattle could seriously ask for Jasson Dominguez as the centerpiece. New York would scoff, but Jiminez was actually a better prospect than Dominguez when he was traded. It’s not a ridiculous ask.
But ultimately, teams aren’t interested in paying the Mariners what Gonzales is actually worth. At the end of the day, he’s just more valuable to the Mariners than anybody else. Maybe something changes in the next 24+ hours. But I wouldn’t hold out hope. Marco Gonzales isn’t going to be traded and that is just neat.