MLB Trade Deadline

Why Giants' trade deadline move with Mariners isn't surprising

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SAN FRANCISCO -- When Seattle Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto called Mike Ford last June to tell him he was being sent to the Atlanta Braves, the veteran responded with a funny line. 

"I let him know, and he was like, 'Oh. It's not the Giants?'" Dipoto said a few months later.

For most Mariners who had been designated for assignment that summer, the next stop had been San Francisco. The long list included Ford, who was DFA'd by the Mariners in April and then sent to San Francisco for cash considerations. 

Ford started at first base for the Giants on May 1 and drove in a couple of runs with a single. That was his only game in orange and black, and 10 days later he was DFA'd again and then traded back to the Mariners. 

The Giants needed first base help at the time because Brandon Belt had gone on the Covid list and LaMonte Wade Jr. was on the IL. They essentially rented Ford by jumping the waiver priority line and making a small cash deal with the Mariners, and that became an odd theme.

The Giants acquired Kevin Padlo, Stuart Fairchild and Donovan Walton from the Mariners early last season, and then at the deadline they sent Curt Casali and Matthew Boyd up the coast, helping Seattle make a playoff push. 

It was only natural, then, that the only deal before this year's deadline came with Dipoto and the Mariners.

On Monday, the Giants acquired AJ Pollock and Mark Mathias in exchange for cash considerations. Once again, they essentially made a minor cash trade for players who might have soon ended up on the waiver wire anyway. 

When Farhan Zaidi was asked on Monday if it was weird to wait until July 31 to deal with Dipoto, he pointed out that that wasn't technically true.

"We got Jack Larsen from them," he said. "You forgot about that deal."

Larsen, a 28-year-old outfielder, was picked up in a minor league trade earlier in July and is currently with the Sacramento River Cats. That trade actually wasn't the first transaction of the year between the two franchises, as the Giants made another minor league deal in May for catcher Jacob Nottingham, who has since been released. 

Add it all up and the Giants are coming up on double-digit trades with the Mariners over the last couple of seasons alone, which Zaidi last year described as leaving him a "combination of amused and embarrassed." When he had asked about Fairchild, an outfielder who played three games for the Mariners and then five with the Giants, Zaidi began the text to Dipoto by saying he knew he might think he was pulling his leg, but the Giants had genuine interest.

"I think we like a lot of the same players," Zaidi said last year, adding that Dipoto is easy to deal with, so most of the deals came together extremely quickly. 

At the General Manager Meetings in Las Vegas last November, Dipoto laughed when asked about the back-and-forth.

"It did get comical at one point with the number of players who were going back and forth," Dipoto said. "Scott Harris said something to me about it when I saw him. I had forgotten all about it."

You can forgive Dipoto for that, which also explains part of how this has all happened. As active as Zaidi and Harris, now with the Detroit Tigers, were the last few years, Dipoto has made so many moves every year in Seattle that he earned the nickname Trader Jerry. 

While the Giants hope Pollock can help their outfield rotation, the trades have mostly proven to be somewhat insignificant. There's one player that could change that, though.

Needing infield help last year, the Giants sent hard-throwing righty Prelander Berroa to Seattle for infielder Donovan Walton, who struggled but later found out he needed shoulder and toe surgery. Berroa was put on Seattle's 40-man in the offseason and in the spring he looked like he might be a potential star as a starter. 

Teams don't generally like to trade young prospects who throw in the upper 90s -- the Giants famously got burned by Luis Castillo, who is now also with the Mariners -- but the front office felt Berroa was going to end up in the bullpen because of his command issues, and that's proven to be the case. Berroa was wild in Double-A and walked three of the five batters he faced in his lone MLB appearance last month. 

Berroa is just 23 and has the stuff to one day make that trade really hurt for the Giants, but so far the teams are on pretty even ground. Perhaps that makes it easier to keep swapping players, and you can bet that Dipoto and Zaidi aren't done making calls.

"What I have historically been to trades, Farhan has been to the waiver wire," Dipoto said. "And generally speaking, when those two things intersect, interesting things like six consecutive trades in a short period of time happen."

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