D-backs become buyers at trade deadline, add Mariners closer Paul Sewald in exchange for 3 players

Seattle Mariners pitcher Paul Sewald celebrates striking out Arizona Diamondbacks' Christian Walker for the final out of a baseball game Friday, July 28, 2023, in Phoenix. The Mariners won 5-2. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb) (Darryl Webb, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

PHOENIX – The Arizona Diamondbacks solidified the back of their bullpen ahead of the trade deadline, acquiring closer Paul Sewald from the Seattle Mariners on Monday in exchange for infielder Josh Rojas, outfielder Dominic Canzone and minor leaguer Ryan Bliss.

The D-backs opted to be buyers at the deadline despite entering Monday's game at San Francisco with a 7-16 record in July and a 56-50 mark overall. They began the day four games behind the Dodgers in the NL West and one game back from the final spot in the crowded NL wild-card race.

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Arizona made another move later in the day, acquiring infielder Jace Peterson and cash from the Oakland Athletics in exchange right-hander Chad Patrick.

Sewald has been a mainstay at the back of Seattle’s bullpen for the past three seasons. Arizona manager Torey Lovullo stood up in excitement when the reliever returned his call Monday, and Sewald is expected to join the club Tuesday in San Francisco.

“He's very eager to step into the role that we all expect him to step into and help us win some baseball games,” Lovullo said. “It's just good to hear his voice and his excitement. I know he's very focused on getting here as quick as possible.”

Still, it was “very hard” for Lovullo to say goodbye to Rojas and the others.

“It's part of the game, that's what I explained to them, as hard as it was,” the manager said.

Sewald has a career-high 21 saves this season in 45 appearances, after recording 20 saves in 2022 and 11 in 2021. In his three seasons with Seattle, Sewald has an 18-8 record and 2.88 ERA in 172 games.

“Gonna miss this place," Sewald said. "It was an amazing three years and changed my life, changed my career — personally, professionally. I owe a lot to the people here and feel like I gave them everything I had for three years and it’s going to be tough.

"But the Diamondbacks traded for me which meant they wanted me more and I’m excited to get to Arizona and do what I can.”

Arizona's bullpen has struggled of late, with a rotating cast of closers like Scott McGough, Andrew Chafin and Miguel Castro. Sewald's arrival should give the Diamondbacks some certainty on who will handle the ninth inning.

For Seattle, it’s a similar move to two seasons ago when the Mariners dealt then-closer Kendall Graveman to Houston at the deadline in exchange for utilityman Abraham Toro and reliever Joe Smith. At that time, the Mariners were nine games over .500. They ended the season 90-72, barely missing out on a wild-card spot.

The Mariners have hovered around .500 for most of 2023. They started Monday 5 1/2 games back in the AL West and 4 1/2 games behind in the wild-card race.

“It’s a good baseball trade, but it’s one that hurts just because of our relationship with Paul and what Paul’s meant to us," Mariners manager Scott Servais said.

Servais added that the Mariners aren't necessarily waving the white flag after adding two players — Rojas and Canzone — who are already in the big leagues.

“Players never want to see a guy like (Sewald) walk out the door,” Servais said. "But you have to wait and see what comes in the door. There’s a lot of ways of improving your team and giving your team a better chance maybe to make a run at the playoffs and hopefully the guys we acquired can come in and help us.”

Rojas — a Phoenix-area native — was a mainstay for the Diamondbacks in 2021 and 2022, but has struggled this season. He's got a .252 career batting average and 22 homers. A change of scenery might be good for the versatile player, who has spent time at third base, second base, shortstop and even the outfield, but admitted it was tough to leave home.

“It's been an awesome experience being able to play at home, in front of my friends and family,” Rojas said. “So that's definitely going to be missed.”

Canzone recently made his big league debut and has a .237 average with a homer and eight RBIs in 41 plate appearances. Bliss was batting .358 with 12 homers at Double-A Amarillo. He was drafted in the second round out of Auburn in 2021.

The D-backs and Mariners just completed a three-game series at Chase Field, with Seattle winning two of three.


AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco and AP Sports Writer Tim Booth in Seattle contributed to this report.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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