After winning three consecutive games in thrilling fashion against the Oakland A's, the Seattle Mariners (54-46) have thrust themselves into playoff contention after 100 games and now have a big decision to make -- one that they probably weren't expecting at the beginning of the season -- as Major League Baseball's trade deadline looms (July 30).

The Mariners, owners of the longest playoff drought in all of major sports (19 years), may be tempted to make some trades for immediate help to get them over the hump. I suggest that they don't and stick with their rebuilding plan with long-term success in mind.

Just a little less than two years ago, the organization's farm system was ranked one of if not the worst in baseball. General Manager Jerry DiPoto has virtually flipped that script in short order. Seattle now has 4 of the top 15 minor league prospects according to Baseball America. They include Julio Rodriguez, Noelvi Marte, Jarred Kelenic and George Kirby.

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There are a half dozen players that have a trade value that, likely, will not get higher than it is now or circumstances that make sense for Seattle to ship them to keep stockpiling young talent and continue building toward the future.

Who should the Mariners try to swap at the MLB trade deadline?

1.) Mitch Haniger, OF
This one will easily be the most unpopular trade if it were to happen as Haniger has been the most consistent offensive weapon for the M's in 2021. He is 5th in the American League in Home Runs with 25 (one shy of his career best) and 12th in RBI after missing much of the last two seasons with severe injuries. However, Haniger is 30 years old is due to be eligible for salary arbitration next year and a free agent the year after. Certainly a solid, veteran right fielder with pop will be attractive to teams in the playoff hunt.
While Haniger is my favorite player, his trade value will doubtfully be higher than it is now.

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2.) Kendall Graveman, RP
Other than a brief stint on the IL, Graveman has lived up to his name coming out of the bullpen and putting opposing batters six-feet under and securing wins in tight situations with a ridiculous 0.69 WHIP and sparkling 0.84 ERA. Like Haniger, Graveman is also 30 and will become a free agent at the end of 2021. Everyone is looking for back end bullpen help when October baseball rolls around and the M's could fetch a good return by shipping him elsewhere.

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3.) Kyle Seager, 3B
Future Mariners Hall of Famer Kyle Seager would love nothing more than to finally make the playoffs with the team that drafted him in the third round in 2009. A former Gold Glove winner at third base and a left-handed bat with some pop combined with an even keel could be attractive to a team looking for a missing veteran piece. Seager's contract, however, makes him virtually impossible to ship as he has a no-trade clause and is due to make $15,000,000 next season on top of what's still coming to him in 2021 ($18,500,000).
Could the Mariners offer Seager a one or two year extension with the promise that they would break the bank to brink his brother Corey to the Pacific Northwest? The younger Seager is a free agent at the end of the year and is coming off of an injury with the defending champion LA Dodgers. Corey at short and Gold Glover J.P. Crawford at second base?
I guy can dream, can't he?

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4.) Paul Sewald, RP
Seawld was a man without a home after being released by the New York Mets until the M's signed him to a minor league deal. Since being called to The Show, Sewald has been another cog in a surprisingly effective Seattle bullpen in 2021. With an eye-popping 15.7 strikeouts per 9 innings (which leads all of baseball), there has to be a club in need of relief pitching that will barter for the 31year-old.

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5.) Tom Murphy, C
Another member of Club 30, Murphy is likely a victim of circumstance as fellow catcher Luis Torrens has been hitting consistently since his recall from AAA Tacoma. With rookie Cal Raleigh also now on the roster, Murph's days appear to be numbered anyhow. Every MLB team carries two catchers and a team that may need a veteran backup down the stretch could be willing to send a prospect or two the Mariners way.

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6.) Drew Steckenrider, RP
Steckenrider signed as a free agent last winter and the Mariners have virtually nothing invested in him other than his current salary of $800,000. Another 30 year-old, "Steck" has been a solid set-up man for Graveman and struck out 41 batters in 39 innings while appearing in 35 games. Solid arms are a premium come playoff time and Seattle could leverage a tidy return for this high-leverage situation pitcher.

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Who are the Mariners eyeing for some immediate help at the trade deadline?

Trade rumors are just that but one scenario being bandied about would send outfielders Jake Fraley and Taylor Trammell along with IF/OF Shed Long, Jr. to the Kansas City Royal for second baseman Whit Merrifield. Merrifield currently leads the AL with 25 stolen bases and is batting .272 (which would lead the Mariners) along with 8 dingers and 52 RBI. Second Base has been a merry-go-round for Seattle and Merrifield would definitely shore up that position.

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