The Mariners traded from the team’s surplus of relievers on July 31, as Seattle sent closer Paul Sewald to the Diamondbacks for Josh Rojas and two prospects in Dominic Canzone and Ryan Bliss. Here’s a closer look at the four players involved in this deal.
The Diamondbacks’ Return
- RP Paul Sewald (2.93 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 60 K over 43 IP)
Reliever Paul Sewald delivered mixed results as a Met, when he recorded an ERA of 5.50 ERA across parts of four seasons between 2017-20. After the 2020 season, Sewald was non-tendered by the Mets and joined the Mariners for the 2021 campaign.
Since his arrival in Seattle, Sewald’s been a very different reliever. He explained in May 2022 when he returned to Queens that he was a “different guy” with “no more sinkers, no more in and out, no more changeups.”
Over the last three seasons, Sewald’s been one of the better relievers in all of baseball. With Seattle, Sewald owned an ERA of 2.88 and struck out 236 batters over 171.2 IP. Not to mention, he picked up 55 saves — 21 of which came this season — across three seasons as a Mariner.
Sewald uses just two pitches nowadays: a four-seam fastball that sits in the 91-94 MPH range and possesses very good spin, and a sweeper. His fastball is a tough pitch to pick up despite the lesser velocity, thanks to the aforementioned movement, his delivery, and ability to pound it up.
That fastball, coupled with a hard sweeper, has been all Sewald’s needed over the past few years.
The Mariners’ Return
- INF Josh Rojas (.228/.292/.296 slash line, no home runs and 13 extra base hits over 59 games (216 PA))
- OF Dominic Canzone (.237/.293/.368 slash line, one home run and three extra base hits in 15 games (41 PA) (MLB), .354/.431/.634 slash line, 16 home runs and 37 extra base hits in 71 games (304 PA) (AAA))
- INF Ryan Bliss (.332/.391/.556, 13 home runs and 46 extra base hits in 81 games (386 PA) (AA and AAA))
Seattle picked up two players with MLB experience in Josh Rojas and Dominic Canzone, as well as a AAA infielder in Ryan Bliss.
We’ll start with Rojas, who was originally acquired by the Diamondbacks in the trade that sent Zack Greinke to Houston exactly four years earlier. Rojas put up very good numbers in the Minors, and hit reasonably well in 2021-22 with the D-Backs. Between those two seasons, the 29-year-old hit .267 with a solid .345 OBP, along with 20 home runs and 32 stolen bases.
This season, however, has been a different story. Rojas hit just .228 and didn’t pop a home run with Arizona. He’s one of just three players in baseball as of July 31 with at least 200 plate appearances and no homers. The other two are Miguel Rojas (Dodgers) and Myles Straw (Guardians).
Seattle also picks up outfielder Dominic Canzone. Canzone doesn’t have one standout tool, but does a lot well. The left-handed hitting Canzone is a career .310 hitter in the Minors, and he put video game-like numbers in the Pacific Coast League before he was promoted to Arizona earlier in the season.
The former Ohio State product possesses a fair amount of power and can play either first baseman or the corner outfield spots. With so many outfielders in Arizona — particularly left-handed hitting ones like Jake McCarthy, Alek Thomas, and Corbin Carroll — though, he didn’t have much room to crack a regular role with the D-Backs.
The other piece involved is Ryan Bliss, a 5 ‘6’’ middle infielder from Auburn University. Drafted out of the second round in 2021, Bliss only hit .214 and posted an OPS of .641 in his first full pro season in 2022. The 2023 campaign, however, has been a much different story.
Bliss hit .332 across two levels, and he’s shown both power and speed. The 23-year-old cracked 46 extra base hits and swiped 35 bases in what’s been a breakout campaign for the middle infielder.
Bliss saw time at second and short in the Diamondbacks organization.
The Diamondbacks’ closer situation this season has been all over the place, as Andrew Chafin, Miguel Castro, and Scott McGough are among the names that have picked up saves for Arizona this season. However, none of the aforementioned names were able to take the role and run with it.
Sewald’s arrival gives the D-Backs a veteran reliever with significant experience in the ninth inning.
Seattle, meanwhile, picked up an infielder in Rojas that’s had himself a subpar season, as well as a toolsy middle infielder in Bliss that could compete for a spot on the M’s roster in the near future. Additionally, the Mariners picked up a good bat in Canzone that could work his way into a starting role in Seattle’s lineup soon.
We should also note that this deal does pave the way for Andrés Muñoz to take over the closer’s role in Seattle. The 24-year-old possesses a plus-plus fastball and a hard slider, and he’s shut down teams with ease over the last two seasons.