The Seattle Mariners are full of surprises in 2021, regarding both their on-the-field results and their off-the-field baseball decisions.
Seattle was not expected to contend for a playoff bid this season, but with August approaching, the team is firmly in the mix.
At 55-48, the Mariners are just two games back of the Oakland Athletics for the second Wild Card spot in the American League.
Given this, most fans were expecting the team to add talent at the trade deadline to gear up for a playoff push.
That’s why so many people were caught off guard when Seattle traded its star closer, Kendall Graveman, to the Houston Astros earlier this week.
An emotional Kendall Graveman was shocked to be traded from Mariners but excited for new opportunities with the Astros pic.twitter.com/3lVaMizuvs
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) July 28, 2021
General manager Jerry Dipoto explained that the Mariners are still committed to buying, and he suggested that the move would make more sense in the coming days, but a lot of fans and players are still shocked that the deal went down.
Ultimately, it could end up being a massive mistake.
Elite Closers Don’t Grow On Trees
Whether the Mariners end up adding more talent on the deadline or not, the loss of Graveman is a massive one.
He was the best relief arm in a Seattle bullpen that has had its fair share of ups and downs this season.
Graveman was working on a 0.82 ERA, 2.88 FIP and 0.70 WHIP across 30 outings before the trade.
No matter what the Mariners do to compensate for the loss of Graveman, they will almost certainly be looking at a downgrade at the closer position.
The 30-year-old was 10-for-11 on save opportunities this season, and he hadn’t allowed an earned run in 12 consecutive outings prior to the deal.
Seattle will have to reassess its bullpen situation now.
The Locker Room Mojo Took A Massive Hit After The Trade
After the trade was announced, reports came out of Mariners players being upset in the clubhouse to the point of tears.
The team was coming off of a massive come-from-behind victory the night before, and for the first time all year, it felt like a realistic possibility that Seattle could crash the playoff party.
Needless to say, losing a player like Graveman was a major mood-killer.
— Phillies ⚾️ (@PHLSports1) July 28, 2021
The deal caught everyone by surprise, and by most measures, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense for a team with playoff aspirations.
Momentum is a very fragile thing in sports, and so is locker-room mojo.
Both of those things were impacted by the Graveman news.
Coincidentally or not, the team is 0-2 since the deal.
Mariners players are going to have to rally around each other and get things back on track if they want to end the longest postseason drought in baseball.
Mariners fans are going to have to trust that Dipoto has a plan.
The team did make an encouraging move on Wednesday by bringing in starting pitcher Tyler Anderson.
Over 18 starts with the Pittsburgh Pirates this season, Anderson pitched to a 4.35 ERA, 4.26 FIP and 1.20 WHIP.
He will serve as a solid rotation option for a Seattle team that needs some help in that department.
But the Anderson deal alone won’t be enough to offset the loss of Graveman.
Dipoto will need to get busy before the 4 p.m. trade deadline comes and goes on Friday.