Just minutes before the July 31s, 4:00 p.m. EST trade deadline, the Seattle Mariners acquired Detroit Tigers’ centerfielder Austin Jackson, sending minor league 2B/SS Nick Franklin to the Tampa Rays in a three way deal in which the Tigers landed ace Rays’ pitcher David Price. About an hour earlier, the Mariners obtained San Diego Padres OF Chris Denorfia in exchange for minor league OF Abraham Almonte and minor league right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen.
Jackson should slot in immediately as the starting centerfielder and leadoff for the Mariners. Even in a down year, Jackson, who sports a .270/.330/.397 stat line this year (.277/.342/.413 lifetime), instantly becomes the Mariners third best hitter behind Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager.
The Mariners, who are 29th out of 30 teams in baseball in OBP, have only four players with significant playing time with OBP over .300 – Cano at .389, Seager at .346, Michael Saunders at .327, and Dustin Ackley who’s recent “hot streak” has raised his OBP to exactly .300. Having someone on base consistently at the top of the lineup should help the Mariners improve on their run production, which is currently 27th in the majors.
The right handed hitting Denorfia, who has lifetime .301/.367/.447 numbers against lefties, should platoon in right field with left handed hitting Saunders to combine for a nice offensive upgrade over Endy Chavez and Stefan Romero.
Rookie James Jones, who has been slumping lately after a hot start after being called up to replace the now departed Almonte, should move to the bench, where his speed is likely to see him pinch run late in games.
Presumably, Dustin Ackley will remain in left field, with the options of platooning Chavez, Jones, and Romero when needed. But, there is the possibility manager Lloyd McClendon could play Saunders, Jackson, and Denorfia, which would clearly be the best offensive outfield the Mariners could put on the field, especially against left handed pitching.
The great thing about getting Jackson and Denorfia is that the Mariners didn’t have to give up any of their high upside prospects, as had been rumored in possible David Price or Marlon Byrd trades.
While maybe not as flashy as a John Lester for Yoenis Cespedes trade, the acquisition of two decent right handed outfield bats should improve the woeful Mariners’ offense considerably. And, keep in mind that beginning August 1st, teams can begin sending their higher cost contracts through waivers. If not claimed, those players can still be dealt, so there’s still a chance the Mariners could add another piece or two.