Mariners Deal Sewald, Pollock in Pair of Trades With NL West Contenders

Paul Sewald
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports activities

At some point earlier than the commerce deadline, the Mariners stored busy by swinging a few trades with a pair of NL West contenders. They dealt nearer Paul Sewald to the Diamondbacks in trade for a three-player package deal — infielder Josh Rojas, outfielder Dominic Canzone, and center infield prospect Ryan Bliss — that ought to assist fill some holes of their lineup. To create the house needed to suit the primary two of them onto their 40-man roster, in addition they despatched outfielder AJ Pollock, infielder Mark Mathias, and money concerns to the Giants for a participant to be named later.

Neither of the strikes are blockbusters, and it’s value noting the extent to which these three groups are clustered by report however have divergent Playoff Odds. A yr after breaking their 20-season playoff drought, the Mariners (55–51) have performed sluggishly; even with a 17–9 July, they’re a longshot for the playoffs, with 18.8% odds getting into Tuesday morning. They’re fourth within the AL West, 5 video games out of first place, and three.5 again within the Wild Card race, with 5 groups forward of them and in a tie with the Yankees. The strikes they made may assist them this yr, however aren’t impactful sufficient to alter their destiny; they might assist extra down the street.

The upstart Diamondbacks (57–50), who have been in sole possession of first place within the NL West as just lately as July 8, made the extra aggressive of the offers, befitting their want to enhance their lot. They’re third within the NL West, 3.5 video games out of first and in a three-way tie with the Brewers and Marlins for the third Wild Card spot. The Giants (58–49) are in essentially the most comfy place of the three groups: second within the NL West, 2.5 video games out of first, and occupying the highest NL Wild Card spot. Their commerce may not quantity to far more than taking a few flyers with comparatively little threat concerned, and the chance {that a} extra substantial deal on Tuesday might make this one a footnote.

The 33-year-old Sewald was within the midst of his third straight sturdy marketing campaign with the Mariners, having emerged as a dependable late-inning choice since signing with the group as a free agent in January 2021. Initially drafted by the Mets within the tenth spherical in 2012 out of the College of San Diego, he spent components of 4 seasons with the group (2017–20), getting knocked round for a 5.50 ERA however posting a 4.04 FIP because of a stable 23.5% strikeout fee. In three years with Seattle, he pitched to a 2.88 ERA and three.35 FIP, boosting that strikeout fee to 35% and saving a complete of 52 video games.

Sewald’s Seattle breakout owes to a makeover set in movement by Mariners pitching coach Pete Woodworth, bullpen coach Trent Clean, and director of analytics Joel Firman, with a objective of getting him to make use of his low-90s fastball on the prime of the strike zone and to swap his deep-breaking slider for a extra horizontally oriented sweeper. To get there, Sewald adopted a decrease launch level, which added deception to his supply and helped him enhance the spin fee and velocity of his fastball in addition to the horizontal motion of his new sweeper. He grew to become a poster youngster for the idea of vertical strategy angle (VAA), the angle at which a pitch crosses dwelling plate; by flattening out his VAA, he helped the pitch play higher on the prime of the strike zone. Lookout Landing’s Michael Ajeto and our personal Jake Mailhot have written quite a bit about Sewald’s emergence. Right here you’ll be able to see how among the specs of his four-seam fastball modified, together with the outcomes:

Paul Sewald’s 4-Seam Fastball

Season Tm Vert Launch Avg Velo Spin Avg Vert Location VAA Whiff wOBA
2017 NYM 4.65 91.4 2361 2.58 -4.2 21.1% .314
2018 NYM 4.63 90.3 2297 2.53 -4.3 17.4% .362
2019 NYM 4.69 91.0 2331 2.55 -4.2 20.0% .266
2020 NYM 4.71 91.7 2276 2.44 -4.3 15.6% .599
2021 SEA 4.52 92.3 2444 2.79 -3.7 33.0% .251
2022 SEA 4.43 92.5 2494 2.91 -3.5 29.5% .248
2023 SEA 4.39 92.0 2487 2.84 -3.5 31.4% .249

SOURCE: Baseball Savant

VAA by way of Alex Chamberlain’s Pitch Leaderboard (

Sewald is throwing his fastball from a decrease launch level than ever — about 4 inches decrease than in 2020, his remaining season with the Mets, and a hair decrease than final yr. Solely three pitchers have a decrease VAA on their four-seamers: Adam Cimber (-2.3 levels), Jose Cuas (-3.2), and Tim Hill (-3.2), with Alexis Díaz tied with Sewald at -3.5. With the modifications, Sewald has been more practical than ever. In 43 innings, he’s put up a 2.93 ERA and a career-low 2.88 FIP, pushed by a 35.5% strikeout fee and a career-low 1.05 homers per 9; that final mark is a considerable enchancment over 2021–22, when he served up 1.4 homers per 9. Hitters are barreling simply 4.4% of their batted balls off him, a fee that locations him within the 92nd percentile and represents a steep drop from his charges of 12.6% in 2021 and 9.4% final yr. His 26.3% hard-hit fee locations him within the 98th percentile and is down from 40% in 2021 and 33.6% final yr. His 1.94 xERA is in a digital tie with Josh Hader for second amongst all relievers with not less than 40 innings, with Félix Bautista (1.72) the one one decrease.

All of which is to say that Sewald is an excellent reliever, one thing in brief provide within the Diamondbacks bullpen, which entered Monday with the NL’s fourth-highest ERA (4.49) and seventh-highest FIP (4.29); they’ve been liable to permitting dwelling runs (1.16 per 9, third-highest) and have struck out a middling 23.8% of hitters (eighth). Supervisor Torey Lovullo has not had a set nearer, as a substitute taking a matchup-based strategy utilizing righties Miguel Castro, Kevin Ginkel, and Scott McGough, in addition to lefty Andrew Chafin. Chafin and McGough have every saved eight video games, Castro seven, and Ginkel three. With Sewald, who has transformed 21 out of 24 save probabilities, Lovullo now has a go-to nearer, bumping the aforementioned quartet into setup roles.

Sewald, who’s making $4.1 million this yr, has yet another yr of membership management remaining, so he didn’t precisely come low-cost, however not one of the three gamers heading to Seattle is something near an affect participant. The 29-year-old Rojas, who might be arbitration-eligible for the primary time this winter, is hitting a dismal .228/.292/.296 (61 wRC+), has but to homer in 216 PA, and has plunged to -0.1 WAR. That’s fairly a comedown after final yr’s career-high 2.7 WAR, set as he hit .269/.349/.391 (108 wRC+) with 9 homers and 23 steals. This yr, his 86.9 mph common exit velocity, 3.4% barrel fee, and 26% hard-hit fee are his worst numbers since getting a foothold within the majors in 2021.

Rojas has primarily performed third base the previous two seasons however can play second as effectively, and for as weak as his offense has been, he seems to be like Jose Altuve subsequent to Kolten Wong, whose weak offense (.165/.241/.227, 36 wRC+) helped the group land on the Substitute Stage Killers second base checklist. Presumably Rojas will take over the lengthy half of a platoon with pesky righty José Caballero (.228/.353/.329, 103 wRC+).

The 25-year-old Canzone is a lefty-swinging outfielder who was chosen within the eighth spherical of the 2019 draft out of Ohio State and entered the yr at no. 33 on the Diamondbacks Prime Prospects checklist as a 35+ FV prospect. He was just lately upgraded to a 40 FV on the Board, having improved his inventory by hitting .354/.431/.634 (149 wRC+) with 16 homers in his second go-round at Triple-A Reno, producing a 90 mph common exit velocity with a powerful 13% barrel fee and .596 xSLG. Whereas he’s considerably chase-prone, with a 33.5% O-Swing%, he trimmed his Triple-A strikeout fee from 20.3% final yr to 13.2% this yr and improved his stroll fee from 7.7% to 12.8%. Recalled in early July, he obtained a style of main league motion, hitting .237/.293/.368 (79 wRC+) with one homer and a 19.5% strikeout fee in 41 PA; previous to going 0-for-3 on Sunday, he had three two-hit video games in a row, the final two of them (ahem) towards the Mariners.

Canzone’s solely plus software is his uncooked energy, but when issues go proper, he has an opportunity to be helpful nook platoon piece within the Matt Joyce or Seth Smith mildew. For the second, he may function a part of an answer in left subject because the Mariners attempt to stand up to the lack of Jarred Kelenic, who’s out till September after fracturing his left foot by kicking a water cooler. That stated, 26-year-old lefty Cade Marlowe has been getting many of the work (six begins in seven video games) in left, although it’s value noting that proper fielder Teoscar Hernández might be on the transfer earlier than the closing bell rings on Tuesday.

The third participant on this deal is Bliss, a 2021 second-round select of Auburn. The 23-year-old, who lists at 5-foot-6 and 165 kilos, entered the yr at no. 25 on the Diamondbacks prospect checklist as a 40 FV prospect. Although he performed 10 video games at shortstop at Double-A Amarillo, he’s actually a second base-only defender who’s fairly tough on the keystone; he may get a glance in heart subject down the street to extend his utility. He’s chase-prone (30% this yr) and has 45-grade uncooked energy, however he’s a sprig hitter who adjusts effectively to breaking balls and has good velocity. Promoted to Reno after hitting a scorching .358/.414/.594 (162 wRC+) with 12 homers and 30 steals at Double-A Amarillo, he’s scuffled to date (.196/.274/.357 in 62 PA).

Notably, Bliss doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster till after subsequent season. The Mariners did have to make room for an additional physique, in order that they despatched Pollock and Mathias to the Giants to clear house. The 35-year-old Pollock, whom the Mariners signed to a one-year, $7 million deal in January, has been a disappointment, hitting simply .173/.225/.323 (51 wRC+) in 138 PA and just lately touchdown on the IL as a consequence of a left hamstring pressure, although he might be activated as quickly as Tuesday. With Mitch Haniger on the IL as a consequence of a fractured proper forearm and with Mike Yastrzemski touchdown on the IL on Monday as a consequence of a hamstring pressure, the Giants’ outfield depth has been depleted, and so they landed on the Killers checklist for each left subject and heart. Their desire was for a righty-hitting outfielder, and Pollock does swing from the best facet, although his hitting has been going downhill; after posting a 137 wRC+ with the Dodgers in 2021, he sank to 92 (.245/.292/.389) with the White Sox final yr. Presumably the money concerns for this deal are to cowl the lion’s share of his remaining wage in hopes of bringing again a prospect in return.

“Clearly, he hasn’t had an excellent season in Seattle,” Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said of Pollock, whom he is aware of from the pair’s days with the Dodgers. “However we sort of have a look at form of among the underlying measures of plate self-discipline, of how he’s shifting across the subject. His dash speeds are good. We simply view him as a very good change of surroundings candidate.”

As for Mathias, he’s a 28-year-old utilityman who has been on the transfer currently. Ultimately yr’s deadline, he was traded from the Brewers to the Rangers, then in March from the Rangers to the Pirates; the Mariners chosen him off waivers on July 2. He by no means made an enormous league look for them however did play 16 video games at Triple-A Tacoma. After hitting .247/.319/.506 with six homers in 91 PA cut up between Milwaukee and Texas final yr, he hit simply .231/.355/.269 in 62 PA for Pittsburgh this yr however has hit .299/.405/.427 in Triple-A, displaying good plate self-discipline by way of a 14.2% stroll fee. He’ll report back to Triple-A Sacramento and will see time with the Giants as they type by way of the choices of their center infield.

Given basic supervisor Jerry Dipoto’s popularity, we in all probability haven’t seen the final of his deadline strikes, as he might emerge with one other ninth-inning choice, however by buying and selling their nearer at this juncture, the Mariners might be perceived as placing up a white flag. In dealing Sewald, they’re definitely giving up a superb participant, however they’re additionally buying and selling from energy given their potential to mint relievers. That’s a not-so-subtle acknowledgement of their have to compensate for his or her battle to develop helpful place gamers, and for having taken a jarringly underwhelming strategy to upgrading their roster after final yr’s pleasure. We’ll see in the event that they do something on Tuesday that strikes the needle on their probabilities at getting again to the playoffs.