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Kendall Graveman Trade Raises Questions and Emotions

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Seattle trades away star reliever Kendall Graveman in a move which may have major reprecussions for the team this season.

Seattle General Manager Jerry Dipoto may have made a mistake on his trading of Kendall Graveman to Houston which could kill the momentum his team had been building.

The Seattle fanbase took a collective gasp Tuesday afternoon after it was announced that Seattle had traded away relievers Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero to division rival Houston for infielder Abraham Toro and reliever Joe Smith.

As for why the gasp took place, there were a few main reasons.

The first reason comes from the words of Dipoto who declared the team as “buyers”. In interviews, Dipoto said he was impressed with the team’s performance and is looking to add at the deadline. The move made seemed more of a seller move trading away a premiere piece for young talent.

The next reason regards to whom Seattle gave up. Rafael Montero was already DFA’d earlier in the week, so his loss was nothing new to add. Kendall Graveman was the star of this trade. After having Tommy John Surgery in 2018, Graveman signed a minimal deal to pitch for Seattle in 2020 before getting injured again and missing the remainder of the shortened season. In 2021, Graveman found a home in the bullpen where his trademark high-velocity sinker became one of the best in baseball and he became known as a top-tier reliever.

The final reason is where Dipoto sent Graveman. Teams rarely trade within their own division, let alone to a division leader. With Houston having a huge lead in the division, this trade helps the Astros shore up their already strong team with a strong reliever to go alongside Ryan Pressly and Ryne Stanek.

While the trade generated an overall shock, that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad trade. Baseball is a business, and Dipoto’s job is to make the team better to lead the team to the playoffs. With this trade, Dipoto’s logic is obvious.

Abraham Toro and Kendall Graveman were the centerpieces of this trade.

Graveman is currently on a one-year deal which is set to expire at the end of the year. With his massive resurgence as a premier reliever, his contract negotiations at the end of the season will undoubtedly result in a massive pay raise. If Dipoto is not confident about signing Graveman in the off-season or wants to save that money for a big free-agent signing in the off-season, trading him now at least guarantees a return on investment for Seattle.

Toro is a young player in the Astros organization who has been touted as a top infield prospect. Toro hadn’t seen much of the main roster due to Houston having one of the strongest infields in all of baseball including stars such as Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel, and Alex Bregman. With the trade, Seattle acquired a young player with five years of club control and major upside as a strong defensive infielder with an emerging bat.

The other logic to this is that Dipoto has come forward saying that this is not the only move Seattle is going to make at the deadline. He has said that there are more moves to be made to strengthen this team and this trade would “make sense” once he is done. This was proven as Dipoto swung a trade with Pittsburgh for LHP Tyler Anderson on the same day. From this, Dipoto is likely not done making moves.

With all this, it seems like this trade has some problems but makes logical sense in many areas. The problem comes from how the Mariners as a team were affected.

Players and fans alike felt a combination of confusion, anger as well as a range of other emotions once the news was announced. While fans took to social media to voice their shock, players in the Mariner clubhouse also reacted to the news.

According to Seattle Times beat writer Ryan Divish, the clubhouse was quiet but people were angry at the news with some players getting angrier than others.

“Are you (expletive) kidding me?” said one 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.”

Added on with this, Graveman had tears in his eyes saying he loves his now-former teammates. Marco Gonzales left a team meeting with tears after being told the news and the explanation for it.

Momentum is something that teams ride or die with during the long stretch that is a baseball season. With that in mind, the timing of the trade also comes into question. The trade comes after Seattle wins a four-game series against the Oakland A’s and one of the most dramatic wins in Seattle Mariner history against the Houston Astros.

When all the momentum and energy for this team was at its highest, the trade left players and fans alike asking “why?”

Right now, fans and players are waiting to see if Dipoto will keep his word that more trades are coming in the future. With the deadline quickly approaching, Seattle is in the hunt for the second wildcard spot in the American League and some extra pieces could help them get over the hump to take that spot. The question becomes if the team can come over the additional hump put in front of them from the Graveman departure.

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