The Seattle Mariners made a surprise move today acquiring OF Avisail Garcia and AAA OF Chris Bryan from the Chicago White Sox for OF Johnny Moore, RP Danny Farquhar and AAA SS Alejandro Paulino. Many analysits are saying the deal seems fair (one analyst called the trade “a fairly even transaction”), but had questions on why Seattle made the deal. Here are some of the questions and answers at the press conference with GM Damon Macioce after the deal was announced:
Q: What was the reasoning behind swapping Moore for Garcia in the line up?
A: We were happy with what Johnny Moore brought to our team last season – at one point he was leading the league in batting average. He struggled a little down the stretch, but overall he performed well. Our reason for acquiring Garcia was based on what he did in 2019 when he hit .340, had 43 HRs and 141 RBIs. With the Angels making moves to improve upon a 100+ win season, we felt it was worth the gamble that Garcia could return to his 2019 form and give us a better chance to compete for the AL West Division Title as well as making a run for a World Series Championship. Garcia should see better pitches in the line up with Alex Jackson and Ryan McMahon hitting behind him, so we are gambling on a rebound from a still-impressive 2020 season.
Q: Can you talk about the other player acquired in this deal – Chris Bryan – and where he fits in the overall scheme?
A: We like Bryan’s ability to put the ball in play and his speed. He’s also a plus defender in the outfield which has been an issue in our system over the years. He will likely see time in Tacoma this season, but he will get a good look in spring training to see where he fits best. Our center field position isn’t locked down, so he is competeing with Dann Bilardello, Mallex Smith and Eric Caine.
Q: Was this deal something that was in the works, or was did it come about quickly?
A: Once Garcia was placed on the trade block, we had internal discussions on whether or not we could afford Garcia’s salary. It took a lot of back and forth before we decided to make an offer to Chicago with the feeling taking on some salary was worth the possible offensive return. We worked through the details with White Sox GM Jeff Copeland over a few days before agreeing on the deal.
Q: Did the recent offseason pitching acquisitions make Farquhar expendable?
A: I wouldn’t say expendable. We were very appreciative of what Danny Farquhar brought to our organization. He had 113 saves and had an overall ERA around 3.00 since his arrival in Seattle in 2013. He was very much a part of our bullpen plans at the start of the offseason, and feel he has a lot to offer. But to answer your question, he was a victim of a numbers game more than him being expendable.
Q: Is there anything you are losing replacing Moore with Garcia?
A: Moore is a better base stealer than Garcia, but not by much. I don’t think we gave Moore enough freedom to swipe more bases than he did with us in 2020. Garcia did have 20+ stolen bases three times in his career though. Moore also draws more walks on average. They are both similar players, but once again we based this trade on the possiblity for more offensive production based on 2019.
Q: Any comments on Alejandro Paulino and losing him in this deal?
A: Paulino has been up and down between AAA and AA, but he is still very young and hasn’t quite filled his potential yet. With Alvarez, Robinson, Solano, Chavis and veterans Solarte and De Jesus in Tacoma, our middle infield was crowded as it was and including Paulino in the deal helped ease that infield glut. We wish him all the best and with his new opportunity in Chicago’s system.
Q: Are there any more deals in the works, or is this team set for spring training and the 2021 season?
A: As you all know, we are not afraid to make a deal to improve our team. We made the playoffs last sesason, but lost in the wild card. We feel we’ve actually improved our team from last season with the offseason moves, and are probably set for spring training. We never say never though.
Q: How will the outfield pan out, and how will the batting order look this upcoming season?
A: Well our group discussed this deal with Jeff Banister, Tim Laker and Andy Tomerlin before making the offer to make sure our coaching staff felt Garcia would be a good fit. As we see it now, Joyce will be in left, a platoon in center between Smith and Bilardello, and Jackson will be in right. Garcia will mainly be our DH, but he will see time in the outfield to give players a rest from time to time. As for our line up, off the top of my head I would say we’d have Mateo leading off, Miller, Garcia, McMahon, Jackson, Joyce, McGuire, Zimmerman or Mauer and our center fielder batting 9th. We’d love to see three 100+ RBI seasons from our middle-of-the-lineup. Maybe four if Joyce gets into the mix? He had 96 last season. A GM can dream, can’t he?