The Seattle Mariners activity and aggressiveness at the trade deadline this year will tell us a lot about the future; not just who will be a part of it but how ownership and upper management feel about the prospect of Jack Zduriencik and Eric Wedge returning for 2014. I, for one, think that Jack Zduriencik should be back in 2014 but that is a post for another day. If the Mariners let Zduriencik trade a lot of guys and maybe even take a few ‘risks’ it likely means that they are not ready to move on from him yet, or at least that he will have an opportunity to interview in 2014. The types of ‘risky’ moves that would be a sure fire sign of confidence in Jack Zdurencik include taking on salary, trading prospects for young MLB players or veterans, trading players under contract or arbitration eligible for 2014, and/or trading for players who are under contract for multiple years.
Despite being bad, this year’s Mariners have an abnormally large amount of serviceable pieces a contender might want. By my count, 8 guys could be in heavy demand—not counting Felix Hernandez. The Mariners likely won’t move everyone though—nor should they. Zduriencik said, "I don't think I'm going to be an aggressor. I'm not going to go out and shop our players. We have 3 weeks."
Probably the easiest to trade is lefty reliever Oliver Perez. Contending teams are always looking for strong left-handed relievers to hold down the bullpen during crunch time. Perez only has the rest of 2014 left under contract and is only a reliever so any return Seattle gets is unlikely to be franchise altering. Nonetheless, the package for Perez should be interesting to say the least considering his effectiveness; 1.89 ERA and 12.62 K/9 make him very desirable. He also might be the best reliever available at the deadline if he keeps pitching in the 9th inning occasionally. Another feather in Perez’s cap is his ability to get righties out; righties have just a .261 wOBA (lefties aren’t much better with a .278 wOBA). A wOBA under .300 is horrible and the only righty regular with a .261 wOBA is hitting .242/.297/.284. I could see the Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians or Los Angeles Dodgers being really interested in Oliver Perez. The Mariners should and will trade Perez.
Kendrys Morales is the hardest guy to predict on this list. The Mariners hopefully want to sign him to an extension to be the DH for the next 2-4 years, but with Scott Boras as an agent it will be pricey and only happen on the open market. If Seattle does trade Morales he should be worth at least one of an organization’s top 10 prospects, maybe even two. Think back to the 2011 Carlos Beltran trade. The New York Mets traded one year of Carlos Beltran (plus $ 4 million) to the San Francisco Giants for Zack Wheeler. Every website had Wheeler as a top 3 prospect in San Francisco. Beltran was hitting .289/.391/.513, Morales is hitting a comparable .280/.340/.462. While Morales is clearly not Carlos Beltran, he should, if traded net the Mariners a good prospect. But I digress—if the Mariners do keep Kendrys Morales this July and lose him in free agency to another club, they can get a nice draft pick. Ultimately, I would keep Morales and try to resign him or get the first round pick—that is the course of action that likely improves the Mariners the most, and I think the Mariners will keep Morales.
The most worthless guy on this list is Brendan Ryan. He
would could be a helpful addition to a contender. His defense is very well thought of and he is the gritty sort who might pick his game up some in crunch time—if you believe in that sort of thing. He is a good base runner. He can’t pinch hit for a pitcher effectively and is a disaster bunting so he will be less attractive to a National League team. Ryan is incapable of improving any team’s starting shortstop position and because of that will only net a PTBNL or cash. If the New York Yankees don’t get Derek Jeter back anytime this year, Ryan might be able to help them. The Mariners should and will trade Ryan.
If Seattle makes Hisashi Iwakuma available then all of the playoff hopeful teams will line up. Iwakuma is a dynamite junk-ball starter with a 2.42 ERA and 2.0 fWAR in 117 innings. Iwakuma is also under contract for 2014 at an affordable price for even the thriftiest playoff contenders. Iwakuma could net a serious top 50 prospect that would immediately figure into the Mariners’ future and maybe even more. I don’t think the Mariners should or will trade Iwakuma; he is just too important for the Mariners in 2014.
Aaron Harang is kind of worthless. He wouldn’t be much of an upgrade for many teams. I could see the Giants grabbing him because the Colorado Rockies are already paying some of his salary and he would be a decent National League fifth starter—in a huge ballpark. I can’t see Seattle getting more than a PTBNL for Harang. The Mariners should trade him, but I don’t think they will find a taker.
Raul Ibanez is doing things that no 41-year-old has ever done, or at least he is on pace. Ibanez has smashed a Mariner leading 22 home runs already and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. His veteran status and leadership will make it ultimately his decision if he gets traded. The front office will approach him and ask him if he wants one last go at a World Series— if he says he does they will trade him out of respect. I can see Ibanez staying and playing this season out for the Mariners.
Joe Saunders might be worth more than anyone expects; over his last eight starts, he is 4-3 with a 2.70 ERA. Solid veteran starters have some value this time of year especially if the Mariners pay his way. In all likelihood however, Saunders’ value is that of a couple mid level prospects who may never even make a MLB 40-man roster. He could probably be an August waiver trade candidate.
Other guys on the Mariners will get asked about in addition to this list. MLB Trade Rumors reported that the Mariners have received calls about Tom Wilhelmsen. The Mariners asked for that team’s top pitching prospect, so it’s a safe bet they don’t plan on trading him. Charlie Furbush is valuable because he is under contract for several more seasons and has been a good lefty out of the pen. I don’t imagine the Mariners will trade him but they should consider it. Mike Morse also might be asked about if he gets healthy in time but he is probably in the same boat as Aaron Harang is value wise.
In conclusion, I can see the Mariners trading Oliver Perez, Brendan Ryan, and Joe Saunders. Ibanez will go if he wants to. Kendrys Morales is the interesting name here; he could net the Mariners a top 50 prospect, maybe even some team’s fourth best guy.