The first blockbuster trade of the MLB offseason occurred on Monday, the ripple effects of which could significantly impact both the A's and Giants.
The Seattle Mariners sent ace left-hander James Paxton to the New York Yankees in exchange for Justus Sheffield -- their No. 1 prospect -- and two other minor leaguers. The Yankees have long been rumored as a potential trade partner for the Giants in a deal centering around starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner, so Monday's trade of Paxton would seem to impact the Giants in two distinct ways.
First, the Paxton trade essentially sets the market for what the return on a potential Bumgarner deal would look like. Additionally, it's possible this removes the Yankees from that list of potential trade partners. The Giants would likely be looking for young prospects in exchange for Bumgarner, and New York's farm system is now that much more depleted.
For the A's, the Paxton trade would seemingly improve their chances within the AL West next season. Seattle no longer has an ace, and if reports are to be believed, this may just be the beginning of a Mariners' fire sale.
Assumption within some corners of the industry is that the Paxton trade signals a full-blown sell-off for the Mariners -- move whatever you can for whatever you can get, even if you eat money.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 19, 2018
Prior to the Paxton trade, the Mariners set that plan in motion by sending catcher Mike Zunino to the Tampa Bay Rays. With their top battery now elsewhere, Seattle has turned their attention to contending in 2021 rather than 2019, according to MLB Insiders Jon Heyman and Jeff Passan.
This is accurate. Or at least what they're telling other clubs. https://t.co/NekvqBr79r— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 19, 2018
So, if this is just the beginning of a Mariners fire sale, what other dominoes might fall? What other players might be available for trade, and which of those -- if any -- would make sense for either of the Bay Area teams?
If the 2019 season began today, the Mariners would possess the fifth-highest payroll of any MLB team, and that's after shipping Paxton's contract east. A bloated team salary and full-on rebuild don't often go hand-in-hand, so it would make sense if they tried to unload some of their higher salaried players, such as second basemen Dee Gordon and Robinson Cano and third baseman Kyle Seager.
Of those three players, none would seem to make a lot of sense for either the A's or Giants.
Oakland's 2019 payroll is the third-lowest in the league, they're fairly loaded at those positions, and their financials have never been as robust as the team across the Bay.
The Giants, though, aren't likely to be racing to the phone to negotiate for one of the three aforementioned veterans either. Disregarding positional fits, the Giants could very well be on their way to a rebuild of their own, and they actually rank fourth in the league in 2019 payroll, right above Seattle. San Francisco has their own set of albatross contracts, and are unlikely to be interested in adding another -- certainly not without sending at least one the other direction.
Still, if the Mariners are intent on selling off assets, it can't hurt the A's or Giants to inquire. Beyond those three larger salaried players, the Mariners have several players on their roster that would be of interest to other teams, a few of which could make a lot of sense for Oakland or San Francisco, depending on what the cost would be.