The Seattle Mariners made one of the more surprising moves of the MLB trade deadline on Tuesday, sending bullpen ace Kendall Graveman to the Houston Astros.
Trading away a pending free agent bullpen ace isn't too unusual in itself as far as the trade deadline goes, but the circumstances of the trade left many observers flabbergasted and Graveman's now-former teammates livid with the man who arranged the trade.
A number of Mariners players anonymously blasted general manager Jerry Dipoto to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, excoriating the executive for seemingly deciding to sell when the team is one game back from a playoff spot and sending away a clubhouse leader with little communication.
Graveman was exchanged for young corner infielder Abraham Toro (career slash line: .193/.276/.350 in 93 games) and 37-year-old reliever Joe Smith (current ERA: 7:48). Also going to the Astros was reliever Rafael Montero, whom the Mariners had recently designated for assignment.
Here's how mad Mariners players are at Jerry Dipoto
Players reportedly described a clubhouse with palpable anger and smashed equipment after the trade. "Betrayed" was reportedly the word of the day.
Here's a sampling of the quotes:
“Are you (expletive) kidding me?” said the same player. “It never changes. They don’t care about winning. How do you trade him and say you care about winning? And you trade him to Houston? It never changes.”
“He hasn’t come down here,” a player said of Dipoto. “He sits up in his suite, playing fantasy baseball and rips apart our team without telling us anything.”
Another player via text said that “no one has heard a thing,” and later texted: “I’ve seen a lot of teammates walk out that door. But this one hurts the most and is the most (expletive) up. The team deserves an explanation.”
The only player named in the article was starting pitcher Marco Gonzalez, who was reportedly distraught to the point of tears upon learning about the trade.
Julie Seager, the wife of veteran Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, also signaled some disapproval of the trade.
Why did the Mariners trade Kendall Graveman to the Astros?
Twisting the dagger was the fact that the Mariners were in the middle of a series against the Astros (the trade was actually broken when Toro emerged onto the field in a Mariners uniform). Hours after the Mariners erased a 7-0 lead to beat the Astros 11-8, with a Dylan Moore grand slam putting them over the top, Dipoto sent Graveman to the opposing clubhouse.
The main jewel of the trade for the Mariners is Toro, who is 24 years old and has displayed solid peripherals despite his mediocre career numbers. That doesn't seem to be a good enough return to convince players to sell on a 55-46 team.
Dipoto didn't seem to help his cause when his primary defense for the trade was basically "This looks bad now, but trust me." His actual words, via Divish:
“It probably doesn’t as a stand-alone, but it’s part of a context that I believe is going to be an ongoing story over the next couple of days,” he said. “So as we move toward the trade deadline (July 30). We have been pretty open in sharing the idea that we’re trying to both address present and future, and we remain actively engaged in the market and trying to address upgrades now, that will give us a chance to be as competitive as we can over the next 60 games and hopefully into the postseason.”
A middling starter for most of his career, Graveman transition to the bullpen full-time with the Mariners last year and has excelled. He has allowed only three earned runs in 33 innings this season, striking out 34 with a 2.88 FIP and racking up 10 saves.
With Houston, Graveman figures to be set-up man behind All-Star closer Ryan Pressly.
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