Did Mariners' late-night trade create blockbuster possibility for Rays?

Sep 19, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA;  Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Randy Arozarena (56) and third baseman Isaac Paredes (17)
Sep 19, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Randy Arozarena (56) and third baseman Isaac Paredes (17) / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

In the first big move of the 2023 Winter Meetings, the Mariners traded outfielder Jarred Kelenic, Evan White, and Marco Gonzales to the Braves for top pitching prospect Cole Phillips and farmhand Jackson Kowar. It's highly likely that the Mariners, who have reportedly been in trade talks with a few teams, are clearing payroll wherever they can in order to accommodate a big trade within the next few days. Kelenic's name, as the most recognizable as the Mariners' left fielder this year, has been headlining the deal, but Gonzales also represents $7.75 million that Seattle is no longer responsible for.

The Rays have been involved in conversations with the Mariners, specifically surrounding stars Randy Arozarena and Isaac Paredes. Could Seattle be clearing some space for an Arozarena/Paredes blockbuster acquisition?

What does the Jarred Kelenic trade mean for a potential Randy Arozarena/Isaac Paredes departure?

Jon Morosi reported both Arozarena and Paredes as potential trade chips in quick succession on Sunday and explicitly named the Mariners as an interested party in one or both of them. Arozarena and Paredes are arbitration-eligible this year, with the former in his second year with an estimated raise to $7 million and the latter in his first with an estimated $4.1 million.

Kelenic is still pre-arbitration this year, so he was making about league minimum with the Mariners and will most likely do so again with the Braves. His shipping off to Atlanta could be less about the money it makes available for Seattle and more about the fact that it leaves the Mariners in need of a left fielder. Randy Arozarena has won Rookie of the Year and secured an All-Star spot in that corner of the outfield.

If the Rays are willing to ship Arozarena and Paredes to the other side of the country, the question that remains surrounds what they'll get in return. Names and hypothetical trades have yet to be thrown around, but could the Rays be looking for more pitching help in the wake of a very probable Tyler Glasnow trade? Maybe they want to poach a few bullpen arms or some of their rising young talent in the minors?

The Mariners reportedly still have the Blue Jays to worry about in an Arozarena/Paredes pursuit, but they're clearly already making some big steps toward winning out.

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