Posted on December 7, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Miami Marlins have traded away one of their core players. It’s just not the player most thought they’d be trading right now. The Marlins have agreed to trade second baseman Dee Gordon to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for prospects Robert Dugger, Nick Neidert, and Christopher Torres. As part of the deal, the Mariners are also receiving money for their international bonus pool, which could help them in their pursuit of Shohei Ohtani.
On the surface, this trade is a head-scratcher from Seattle’s perspective. The Mariners already have a second baseman in Robinson Cano, who is one of the best in the game and signed to a massive contract. However, early indications are that the Mariners will make Gordon their everyday center fielder.
Seattle embraced outfield defense last offseason when they acquired Jarrod Dyson in a trade with the Royals. With the 33-year old Dyson being a free agent and coming off a subpar offensive season, the Mariners are once again in need of a center fielder. They appear to have tapped Gordon for that role.
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Of course, Gordon has never played the outfield in his professional career. Even in his minor league career, he has never played anywhere but second base or shortstop. However, Gordon has plenty of speed to burn. The Mariners are banking that Gordon’s speed and athleticism will translate to the outfield, allowing him to make a quick transition to his new position.
In Gordon, the Mariners are also adding speed at the top of their lineup. Gordon had a rough 2016 season that included an 80-game suspension for PED use. But he bounced back in 2017, hitting .308 with an OPS of .716. He also stole 60 bases. Of course, the Mariners already have a leadoff hitter in Jean Segura. It remains to be seen if those two will form a 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup or if one will move to the bottom of the order.
The acquisition of Gordon is also a long-term addition for the Mariners. He’s under contract for at least three more seasons. He’ll make at least $37 million over that time, with a $14 million option for the 2021 season. If his move to the outfield works out, he could be Seattle’s center fielder for the next few years.
As for the Marlins, this could be the first of several trades they make this winter. Obviously, most of the focus has been on Giancarlo Stanton, who could be traded soon. But Gordon was also identified early in the offseason as a player Miami would like to trade as a way to trim payroll. Trading Gordon leaves Derek Dietrich and Miguel Rojas as Miami’s top second base candidates in 2018.
In addition to cutting payroll, the Marlins have also added three prospects. Neidert, a right-handed pitcher who finished last season at double-A, is the headliner. He was Seattle’s 2nd round pick in 2015 and the team’s no. 2 prospect, according to MLB.com. Torres is a 19-year old shortstop who was Seattle’s no. 7 prospect. Dugger, a right-handed pitcher, is a less-heralded prospect who posted intriguing numbers in A-ball last season.
This is not a trade many people foresaw happening. Trading for Gordon and moving him to center field obviously carries some risk for the Mariners. But there is certainly some upside if Gordon can learn how to play the outfield. Meanwhile, the Marlins were able to get Gordon off their payroll, which was one of their goals this offseason. They also added two prospects with big league potential. It’ll be fascinating to see where they go from here.