James Paxton trade to Yankees appears to signal start of Mariners' fire sale

Since the beginning of the offseason, the reporting around the Mariners has been sending a pretty consistent message: The Mariners are sellers. Until anything actually happened, though, we couldn't be completely sure. Even those plugged in hear the wrong messaging on occasion. The James Paxton deal, though, really feels like the beginning. A frontline arm, in-his-prime pitcher with two years of team control left was traded for three prospects. The logical thought process here is a rebuild. 

Sure enough ...

The Mariners have already traded catcher Mike Zunino to the Rays, so this is the second deal of consequence, and like Mr. Olney suggests in his report above, we're probably in the "it's on" portion of the M's offseason now. Who else could go? 

Seeing All-Star outfielder Mitch Haniger go probably hurts Mariners fans' feelings, but it happens in a rebuild. Haniger is heading to his age-28 season and is under team control through 2022. He even has one pre-arbitration year left. After hitting .285/.366/.493 (139 OPS+) with 38 doubles, four triples, 26 homers, 93 RBI, eight steals, 90 runs and 6.1 WAR last season, he'd land a big prospect package for the Mariners. 

Same with AL Reliever of the Year Edwin Diaz. He's only going to be 25 next year and he's also under team control through 2022 with one pre-arb year left. He just had a 1.96 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 124 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings to go with his MLB-best 57 saves. Like Haniger, he'd bring back a lot. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto did comment on the potential of trading Diaz, saying the organization would have to be "completely blown away" by what it would get in return.

But Haniger and Diaz would likely have to be moved in a full sell-off, because they'll bring the most back. They're certainly not the only Mariners who could be on the move this winter, though.

Next up: Jean Segura. He'll be 29 next year, plays quality defense at shortstop and has hit .308/.353/.449 the past three seasons combined while averaging 29 steals per 162 games. He's got four years and nearly $55 million left on his deal with a $17 million club option for 2023. This would be one of those "eat money" situations if they want good prospects in return, but probably not a lot of money. 

They couldn't get rid of Robinson Cano (five years and $120M left) without eating a ton of money, but maybe they'll do it. The situation is similar with Kyle Seager (three years and $57.5M left heading to his age-31 season in a clear decline). I can't imagine anyone else wants to pay much of the $27.858 million Felix Hernandez is due in 2019. 

Dee Gordon hit just .268/.288/.349 (79 OPS+) last year and is due a touch over $27 million in the next two seasons. Mike Leake is due $31 million over the next two seasons, but the Cardinals are already paying $9 million of it, so maybe the Mariners eat some of that money and get something back. 

Maybe they could get something of value for Marco Gonzales? He was 13-9 with a 4.00 ERA (102 ERA+) in 166 2/3 innings last year. He's under team control through 2023 and doesn't hit arbitration until 2021. 

If this really is a full-scale rebuild, expect to hear rumors about pretty much every player listed above and maybe more. The franchise with the longest playoff drought in baseball has been stuck in the mud for far too long to not do something drastic. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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