Jerry DiPoto really wants that Wild Card spot. For the second time in just a few weeks, the Seattle GM has traded away a young outfield prospect for something the Mariners need to win NOW. First, minor league crusher Tyler O’Neill was traded to St. Louis for pitcher Marco Gonzales, who was lit up for 5 earned runs in his first start this weekend. On Sunday, the M’s acquired Oakland’s all-star first baseman Yonder Alonso for outfielder Boog Powell.
Alonso earned his first all-star appearance this year after hitting 20 home runs at the all-star break, his highest single-season total thus far. He’s been crushing it against right-handed pitching and will serve at the very least as an effective platoon guy with current Seattle first baseman Danny Valencia.
Valencia has been dismal against right-handed pitching this season, so they complete each other like a perfect south Florida marriage.
“I feel like it’s a compliment he brings to our lineup, particularly the left-handed bat and how he pairs with (Danny) Valencia, which they’ve done before,” DiPoto told Oregon Live. “It’s a balance he brings to our lineup, especially looking ahead, we’ve got quite a stretch of right-handed starters that we are seeing over the next three weeks.”
The Cuban-born first basemen has been one of many who have contributed from a tweaked swing this season, as the focus on launch angle has resulted in a downpour of home runs. His success against right-handed pitching and defensive competence makes him a solid addition to the Mariners playoff push.
This is, essentially, the last year the M’s can really count on their core of Robinson Canó, Nelson Cruz, Felix Hernández, and Kyle Seager to function at a high level together. King Felix has struggled with injuries over the last two seasons, and currently finds himself on the DL with biceps tendinitis. Canó and Cruz are producing as normal and Seager continues to be an anchor at third base.
Even with the emerging core of Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger, James Paxton and potentially a much-improved Mike Zunino, the Mariners have needed to act quickly to maximize their profits on their very pricy current core. The addition of Alonso puts them in position to capitalize and make their first postseason in 16 years.