On Friday afternoon the trade market saw some movement when the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants struck a notable deal, and there's a chance it affects the New York Yankees' endeavors in free agency.
Seattle offloaded Robbie Ray and his hefty contract to San Francisco in exchange for outfielder Mitch Haniger (reunion!) and pitcher Anthony DeSclafani. For the 2024 season, it was purely a salary swap. The Giants sent $3 million to the M's to offset the money for the coming year.
But what this does do is make the Mariners more financially flexible. They just got rid of $73 million remaining on Ray's contract, as the left-hander recovers from Tommy John surgery (and won't return until after the All-Star break).
DeSclafani is a free agent after 2024 while Haniger has a player option for 2025 worth $15.5 million. So if the M's wanted to make a run at another high-profile free agent like, say, Blake Snell, who has been linked to them because he's from Seattle, they're now in a much better place to do so.
The Yankees are reportedly interested in Snell after previous buzz suggested otherwise, but it's unclear how far they'd be willing to go to bring him to the Bronx. Some floated a short-term, high AAV deal, but that doesn't entirely benefit the 31-year-old.
Did Mariners-Giants trade hurt Yankees in Blake Snell free agency race?
Could the Mariners now have the capacity to give Snell a longer-term pact to coax him? Ultimately, that's what Scott Boras is going to want/advise for his client. Plus, a return home for more years and more money would probably be a no-brainer.
As of now, the Mariners' lone large financial commitments are Julio Rodriguez and Luis Castillo, both of whom are well worth the money and represent building blocks for a team on the cusp of contention. Snell would immediately help the M's battle with the Astros and Rangers for supremacy in the AL West (assuming they get creative making other additions, too).
The Yankees are also reportedly interested in bringing back Jordan Montgomery, but the Rangers are supposedly the favorites there. That's why New York's recent involvement in Snell's market eased fans' worries about adding another ace-caliber arm.
Though the Yankees have been active this offseason, they haven't been aggressive in free agency (outside of chasing Yoshinobu Yamamoto). That's allowed other teams to find their bearings and better prepare themselves for moves like this.
This is where New York's spending power and rush to the front of the line would've helped them. Now, they'll remain in the free agent waters as more sharks begin to circle.