Jim Caple


Whether a trade will be good or not isn’t always clear ahead of time, except when you deal for someone great like Ken Griffey Jr., whom the Reds got -- and the Mariners also got the very good Mike Cameron in return. And Jerry Dipoto has made more than 100 trades since taking over as general manager after the 2015 season.

A former reliever with Cleveland, the Mets and the Rockies, Dipoto is smart, knows the game well and can be fun to talk with. He also has had a few good deals – he traded for outfielder Mitch Haniger and shortstop Jean Segura in late 2016, plus second baseman Dee Gordon in December 2017. But he also has had several bad ones. That is because he often deals away the Mariners’ best players for prospects he thinks will be very good, but they aren’t always are.

For instance, after the 2018 season, Dipoto traded away eight-time All-Star Robinson Cano, two-time All-Star Segura (who batted .304 that year), starter James Paxton and closer Edwin Diaz, who had a league-leading 57 saves that season. Dipoto also did not re-sign great designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who hit 37 home runs in 2018, 11 more than any other Mariners did.

Who did Dipoto get in return? In the Cano/Diax trade to the Mets, he got Jarred Kelenic, Gerson Bautista, Jay Bruce, Justin Dunn and Anthony Swarzak. Kelenic, a 2018 first-round pick, is considered a promising prospect who batted .291 with 23 home runs at the A and AA levels last year. And Justin Dunn was called up in September and had a 2.70 ERA in four relief appearances with Seattle. Bautista, however, pitched in eight games with Seattle last year and was 0-1 with an 11.00 ERA. Swarzak had a 5.27 ERA in 15 games and was traded to Atlanta. Bruce batted .212 with 14 home runs in 47 games but was traded to Philadelphia in early June.

Paxton was traded to the Yankees for Justus Sheffield, Erik Swanson and Dom Thompson-Williams. Paxton had a good season with New York (he was 15-6) while Sheffield was 0-1 with a 5.50 ERA in eight games with Seattle, Swanson was 1-5 with a 5.74 ERA in 27 games and Thompson-Williams batted .234 in AA.

Segura was dealt to Philadelphia for J.P. Crawford and Carlos Santana. A former first-round draft pick, Crawford hit .226 with 83 strikeouts and 12 errors in 93 games with Seattle but also improved and made some very good fielding plays at shortstop. Santana didn’t play for the Mariners because they soon traded him to Cleveland for Edwin Encarnacion, whom Dipoto traded away in June while he was leading the league in home runs.

Cruz, meanwhile, signed as a free agent with Minnesota where he hit 41 home runs and helped them to the postseason.

Some of those prospects Dipoto dealt for could become good players, particularly Kelenic, along with Crawford. So perhaps they will be good trades of his . Let’s hope so.

But he should really stop trading away so many of his best players.