The Seattle Mariners are going to be one of the more fascinating offseason teams as long as Jerry DiPoto is calling the shots. With one trade down, could the Red Sox be the next to facilitate the general manager’s love of trading?

The Mariners kicked off their winter meetings Sunday night by trading outfielder Jarred Kelenic to the Atlanta Braves. It’s a fresh start for the former No. 6 pick whom Seattle acquired in the Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz deal with the Mets.

While Kelenic never realized his full potential in Seattle, his departure does open a hole in the Mariners’ outfield. They probably would love to replace Kelenic by acquiring Juan Soto from the Padres, and few teams have the sort of pitching depth — especially in the big league rotation — that Seattle does in trying to make that trade.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, should be interested observers in the Soto sweepstakes, and not just because they could be in on talks, too. If Seattle can’t reel in the smooth-swinging phenom, they could do one of two things. The first is they try to go big game hunting elsewhere, perhaps in the free agent market with Japanese superstar Yoshinobu Yamamoto or a proven big league arm like Blake Snell. That would give them even more pitching depth while still needing to find someone to take Kelenic’s spot.

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That’s where the Red Sox could make some sense as a trade partner. First, from Boston’s perspective, the Mariners have what the Sox want, which is starting pitching.

Here’s what Seattle currently has in its starting rotation:

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Luis Castillo (14-9, 3.34 ERA, 197 IP, 10 K/9 IP)
George Kirby (13-10, 3.35 ERA, 190.2 IP, 8.1 K/9 IP)
Logan Gilbert (13-7, 3.73 ERA, 190.2 IP, 8.9 K/9 IP)
Bryce Miller (8-7, 4.32 ERA, 131.1 IP, 8.2 K/9 IP)
Bryan Woo (4-5, 4.44 ERA, 87.2 IP, 9.5 K/9 IP)

It’s one of the best starting rotations in the majors. Four of those guys made at least 25 starts last season, and Castillo is the only one who is 30 years old. Woo, the only one who didn’t hit that 25-start threshold, made 18 starts as a 23-year-old, who hadn’t pitched above Double-A before making his big league debut.

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Castillo, who just finished fifth in American League Cy Young Award voting, probably isn’t available. If he’s not, you could do a lot worse than any of those other four. All of them throw very hard, too, with Kirby, Gilbert and Miller all ranking within the top 25 of all big league starters in average four-seam fastball velocity. Woo would be in there, too, if he qualified.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Craig Breslow loves guys who have great stuff, and that trio checks the boxes. The Red Sox also reportedly hired Justin Willard as their director of pitching, according to The Boston Globe. As the great Red Sox Stats account on X shared Monday, Willard also has said in the past that he covets stuff and pitchers who are downright nasty.

Again, all of those guys in that Seattle rotation check those boxes, and with their ages, they are under team control to varying degrees. The confluence of those two factors means they won’t come cheap, though.

The Red Sox, thanks to Chaim Bloom, do have some elite prospects. Breslow has stated a willingness to move some of that capital to help the big league club, and you have to think he would do so to help the pitching. Seattle is a team in win-now mode, so they aren’t likely to just dump cost-controlled, front-end starting pitching for lottery tickets. It’s probably going to take a player — or players — who can contribute at the big league level right now. While Breslow insisted the club isn’t shopping him, Alex Verdugo is a veteran outfielder who can play Gold Glove-caliber defense and has generated a lot of popularity around the league in offseason talks.

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“He’s a guy that other teams have kind of reached out on given the situation,” Breslow told reporters last month. “But I don’t think we’re in a position to commit to anything. We have to look at every opportunity, every interaction with another club or with an agent as a chance to get better. Where that lands, we’ll see.”

He’s not the only potential trade candidate, of course, and other players could help Seattle right away both on Boston’s major league roster or ready to force their way into the bigs as soon as 2024 who could be involved.

One other thing to remember is that DiPoto and Breslow already struck a deal. The Sox traded Luis Urias to Seattle a month ago for reliever Isaiah Campbell (who naturally has a fastball that averaged 95 mph last season).

If the Winter Meetings are baseball’s version of a matchmaking event, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Red Sox and Mariners strike something up this week.

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Featured image via Peter Aiken/USA TODAY Sports Images