The Seattle Mariners made a shocking trade on January 5th, sending 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray to the San Francisco Giants. In return, the Mariners brought back outfielder Mitch Haniger and right-handed pitcher Anthony DeSclafani. The trade reunited the Mariners with a fan favorite while adding more depth to their lineup and rotation.
Background Leading up to the Trade
The Mariners have been active this offseason in trying to build a playoff contender around young stars like Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic. They made a splash by signing former Cy Young winner Blake Snell to anchor their rotation. However, even with the addition of Snell, most viewed their starting pitching as a potential weakness behind ace Luis Castillo.
Meanwhile, the Giants have been seeking ways to keep pace with their division rival Dodgers, who added stars Trea Turner and Aaron Judge this winter. Landing the 31-year old Ray, coming off a down year but just two seasons removed from Cy Young dominance, helps strengthen their rotation.
Ray spent just one season in Seattle after signing a 5-year, $115 million contract last winter. He went 13-12 with a 3.71 ERA and 212 strikeouts for the Mariners. Solid numbers but a decline from his epic 2021 season with the Blue Jays when he posted a 2.84 ERA and 248 strikeouts, winning the Cy Young almost unanimously.
The Mariners clearly sold high on the veteran Ray, deciding the opportunity to add a quality bat in Haniger and add pitching depth with DeSclafani was worth parting with a recent Cy Young winner. For the Giants, it’s a worthwhile gamble that a change of scenery could help Ray recapture his award-winning form.
|39 HR, 100 RBI
|.253/.318/.485 slash line
Details of the Blockbuster Trade
As first reported by MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the Mariners agreed to trade Ray and cash considerations to the Giants for Haniger and DeSclafani. All three players involved have dealt with injuries lately but offer upside for their new clubs.
For the Giants, Ray provides a veteran arm to pair with Logan Webb atop the rotation. Despite his down 2022 numbers and elbow issues that ended his season early, Ray showed ace ability in his Cy Young campaign just two years ago. San Francisco is betting he can regain that form in a more pitcher-friendly ballpark. The Giants also receive over $5 million from Seattle to offset some of the $26 million owed to Ray over the next two seasons.
Meanwhile, the Mariners happily welcome back local fan favorite Haniger, a hard-hitting outfielder who made his first All-Star team with Seattle in 2018 when he blasted 38 home runs with an .859 OPS. Haniger has battled injuries the past few years, including missing all of 2020 with core muscle surgeries. But when healthy, the 32-year old represents a dangerous right-handed power bat to slot into the Mariners lineup alongside young sluggers Rodriguez and Eugenio Suarez.
In addition, the M’s add DeSclafani to reinforce their rotation depth with Snell and Marco Gonzales. DeSclafani pitched well for San Francisco in 2021, earning an All-Star nod by going 13-7 with a 3.17 ERA. However, oblique and ankle injuries wrecked his 2022 and limited him to just eight underwhelming starts. If he regains form, DeSclafani could be a solid mid-rotation starter or long reliever. The Mariners also received $6 million from the Giants, nearly covering DeSclafani’s $6.5 million salary for 2023.
What Trade Means for Each Team Going Forward
Impact on Mariners: This trade checks a lot of boxes for Seattle as they gear up for a playoff run after ending their 21-year postseason drought in 2022. Reacquiring Haniger strengthens their outfield with his powerful bat. The local star will rotate through DH to reduce injury risk and fit well alongside Rodriguez and newly signed AJ Pollock. DeSclafani adds rotation insurance and let’s the Mariners ease top prospects Emerson Hancock and Taylor Dollard into the mix. After signing Snell and getting Haniger back via trade, fans should feel good about the M’s aggressive offseason. Expect them to contend for the AL West title in 2024.
Impact on Giants: For the Giants, this trade signals they are aggressively retooling their roster while still aiming to compete with the perennial NL West champion Dodgers. After losing out on Aaron Judge and Trea Turner, San Francisco needed to make a splash. Getting a recent Cy Young winner like Ray makes a statement and he could be a force atop their rotation if healthy. The Giants paid a steep price in losing a productive slugger in Haniger. His right-handed power bat will be tough to replace. But if Ray comes close to his Toronto form, he could carry their rotation and make this a win for Farhan Zaidi’s club as they chase another playoff berth.
What MLB Analysts Are Saying About the Trade
The Mariners-Giants winter blockbuster has been polarizing around the baseball world. Some love the move for Seattle while most praise San Francisco for buying low on Ray’s upside. Here’s a sampling of instant reaction from prominent MLB analysts:
“The Giants got themselves an elite starter just two seasons removed from winning a Cy Young…I love this deal for San Francisco.” – Mark Feinsand, MLB.com Executive Reporter
“Mariners come away with significant lineup upgrade in Haniger and rotation depth with DeSclafani. This trade checks boxes and sets them up nicely to contend out west.” – Robert Murray, The Athletic
“Ray’s risky with recent injury history but Giants rotation needed the talent injection. Worth the gamble if his medicals checked out.” – Jon Heyman, MLB Network Insider
“You have to credit Giants for capitalizing on Ray’s down year and Mariners selling high. San Fran buys low on ace stuff.” – Jeff Passan, ESPN MLB Insider
“This trade screams win-win to me. Mariners get fan favorite back and come out deeper. Giants take smart risk on Ray regaining Cy form.” – Jon Morosi, MLB on FOX Reporter
Social Media Reaction to Mariners Reuniting With Haniger
The return of Mitch Haniger sparked an outburst of reaction on social media from Mariners players, fans and media members. Almost universally, Seattle supporters loved getting back a beloved homegrown player known for his clutch hitting in the middle of their order. Here’s a sampling of responses on Twitter to the Haniger aspect of this shocking winter trade:
“YESSSSS!!!!! @M_Hanny is BACK!!!! Beyond excited to get Mitch back in Seattle – our fans are going to go crazy! Great move @Mariners” – Julio Rodriguez, Mariners outfielder 👏
“There’s nothing like bringing home a fan favorite son…Mariners country rejoices your return Mitchy!” – Bill Krueger, Mariners Radio analyst 🎉
“HANIGER IS BACK BABY! This is the best news ever – thanks Santa!” – @MsFanGirl5 🎄
“Our long national nightmare is over! Happy Haniger Homecoming Day @Mariners” – @EdgarHOFer 🏠
“Mariners sure know how to end the off-season with a bang! Haniger is PERFECT for this lineup.” – @RealSchiff 💥
It’s clear Mariners players and fans are ecstatic to reunite with the beloved slugger Haniger as spring training approaches. Despite losing 2021 Cy Young winner Robbie Ray in this trade, Seattle appears thrilled to bring back a healthy, homegrown star hitter still in his prime after injury-shortened seasons.
Outlook for Ray, Haniger and DeSclafani Heading Into 2024 Season
As spring training gets underway, the spotlight will shine brightly on all three featured players in this shocking winter trade between potential playoff contenders.
For Ray, the pressure’s on to regain Cy Young caliber dominance moving back to the National League with San Francisco. If Ray stays healthy, he should benefit greatly from pitching half his games along the shores of McCovey Cove. AT&T Park played as an extreme pitcher’s haven last season. If Ray recaptures even 80% of his award-winning 2021 stats, the Giants will look smart for buying low here.
Haniger also faces pressure to stay healthy and anchor the Mariners’ lineup with his usual 30-homer power. But he returns to an adoring fan base and will thrive hitting behind Rodriguez and Suarez. A healthy Haniger could be an MVP sleeper candidate.
Finally, DeSclafani feels like a wild card in this trade equation. If his injuries are behind him, he has 15+ win upside in Seattle’s spacious ballpark. But after an 8.65 ERA last year, the righty needs to prove himself quickly this spring.
One thing seems certain – this winter blockbuster should make Mariners vs. Giants a must-see interleague rivalry in 2024 with how things have shaken out.
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