What Are The M’s Going To Do?
Okay, you’ve seen my plan for the kind of off-season I’d like to see the M’s have. As a follow-up, I usually post a “What I Think The Team Will Do”, where I speculate on the types of moves that I expect the Mariners to actually make. I spent hours trying to do that post, and you know what – I don’t have any idea. I really don’t know what to expect.
There are just so many ways the team could go. Negotiations with Felix could break down and they could decide to trade him, which would lead to several different options; try to get a package that includes another team’s young star, deal him for a couple of major league ready guys who haven’t established themselves yet, or ship him off for a bushel of prospects that will hopefully be ready in a couple of years. I don’t think they’ll do the latter, but the first two are possibilities.
As we’ve talked about, a Felix trade has ramifications for the rest of the roster as well. The players coming back are going to fill positions, though there’s no way to know which players the M’s could get until the offers emerge. It also signals that you’re probably building for 2011 and beyond, and that makes signing free agents who may want to win significantly harder. At that point, the incentives for playing kids like Mike Carp and Michael Saunders go up, so the team is less likely to pursue minor upgrades at the major league level. On the other hand, dealing Felix also saves the team a pretty significant amount of money, giving them the option to be aggressive in acquiring a higher priced player who may be willing to wait for 2011 for real contention. So, while the team would probably avoid moderate upgrades that displaced young talent, they may be more aggressive in going after an expensive premium player to replace Felix.
Then, there’s the scenarios where they keep Felix, which vary significantly as well. The team could take a conservative path, making small changes to a roster that returns enough players to not be horrible and judge the development of Morrow, Saunders, Moore, and Tui as the season goes along. They could take a more aggressive approach, giving the kids a little more Triple-A seasoning while bringing in several quality players as placeholders in an attempt to make a playoff run next year. They could do a hybrid of both, which is the direction that I suggested they lean towards, and upgrade certain roster spots while also giving a couple of the young players a chance to prove themselves.
All of those overall strategies have a multitude of different routes as well. The team could trade Lopez, give Tui a shot at second base, and bring in a third baseman. They could keep Lopez and use Tui at third. They could keep Lopez and send Tui back to Tacoma for some more polishing. They could trade them both, re-sign Beltre, and bring in a veteran second baseman with a better glove. Saunders could be the starting left fielder for the Mariners or the Rainiers, or he could be traded in a deal to bring in a young player at another position while a new placeholder keeps the seat warm for Dustin Ackley. They could sign a high risk, injury prone pitcher and hope to strike gold, or they could trade a couple of pitchers away in an effort to improve the offense.
In the end, pretty much anything is possible outside of Ichiro getting traded. When you look at the current 40 man roster, I’d be comfortable with saying that approximately 5-10 of those guys will certainly be here in March. The other 30-35? No idea.
There are just so many ways the team could go that the off-season is essentially unpredictable. I know people love to speculate about what the team is going to do, but in reality, there’s just no way to know. We’re just going to have to wait and see what Z and the gang have up their sleeves.