Taking advantage of the Miami Marlins’ desire to shed salaries as quickly as possible, the Seattle Mariners on Thursday acquired Dee Gordon, a two-time All-Star, to take over in center field.
To sweeten the deal, in which the Mariners gave up three prospects, Miami threw in $1 million in international bonus pool money, which Seattle can use in its pursuit of Shohei Ohtani, the Japanese pitching and hitting sensation, who is in the process of picking a major league team to sign with.
The 29-year-old Gordon has been a middle infielder throughout his seven-year career, but is thought to have the speed and instincts necessary to thrive in the outfield despite his only experience there coming in a 13-game stint in the Dominican Winter League a few years ago.
On offense, Gordon, the son of the former major leaguer Tom Gordon, is more of a known quantity. He led the National League in stolen bases in three of the last four seasons and produced two 200-hit seasons in that span. He may have had three in a row if not for an 80-game suspension he received in 2016 after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Gordon was expendable in Miami mainly because of the $37.9 million that he is owed over the next three seasons, which could increase to four years and $51.9 million should he reach 600 plate appearances in 2020 or a combined 1,200 plate appearances in 2019 and 2020.
In a series of cost-cutting measures the Marlins are also looking to trade away Giancarlo Stanton, the N.L.’s reigning most valuable player.
Perhaps more important for Seattle than the acquisition of Gordon, though, was the additional international bonus pool money. Seattle, with $3.56 million, now has the ability to outbid all of the other teams that Ohtani, a pitcher and designated hitter for the Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan, is considering. Before this trade, and one with Minnesota yesterday, the Mariners had been behind the Texas Rangers ($3.54 million) and the Los Angeles Angels ($2.315 million). All three teams have considerably more than the $300,000 available from each of the other four teams Ohtani has identified as contenders.