The Third Base Problem

Dave · August 22, 2011 at 7:53 am · Filed Under Mariners 

A few months ago, the M’s off-season priorities seemed pretty obvious – the team was devoid of interesting left field options, and they needed to at least get a competent DH to help stimulate the offense. Since then, however, they’ve acquired Casper Wells and Trayvon Robinson and Mike Carp has shown enough power to at least be considered in the mix for playing time at 1B/DH next year. What were total organizational holes are now more question marks, where the team could make a case that it’s worth investing playing time in guys like Wells and Carp to see if they can find reasonably productive players who make no money, which would let them allocate their resources elsewhere when looking to upgrade the roster.

If the team decided to go that direction, that would leave third base and catcher as the glaring organizational holes, and the likely spots to target for upgrades this winter. The problem with trying to upgrade at catcher is two-fold, however – the organization already is paying Miguel Olivo $3.5 million next year, and they seem to actually like what he brings to the table. There’s also the fact that there are no good hitting catchers that are likely to be available, and it’s tough to see the M’s investing significant money on a non-impact guy to make Olivo a back-up. They might spend a few million to get another veteran to split time with him, but I doubt we’ll see Olivo forced into a strict backup role.

So, that leaves third base as the position where the team could focus their resources on improving. Chone Figgins is basically out of the picture at this point, having performed so poorly that I doubt anyone really wants to see him report to Peoria next spring. Kyle Seager still profiles more as a utility infielder than an everyday guy, and is certainly not going to be the kind of thumping big bat that the organization would like to add to the line-up. Alex Liddi has some power but isn’t really a Major League player at this point (and might not ever be), and after that, there just isn’t really anyone internally that the organization could point to and say that he’s the third baseman of the future.

So, despite the Figgins flop, it seems like the team may be in a position to spend some money to get an established third baseman this winter. The problem – I have no idea who they’d actually go after. Look at the list of the best third baseman in baseball this year – it’s not a very pretty sight. Kevin Youkilis is headed into the final year of his contract, probably can’t play 3B much longer, and there’s no reason for Boston to trade him. Pablo Sandoval is the Giants only decent hitter. Adrian Beltre just signed a huge contract with the Rangers. A-Rod? Longoria? Zimmerman? Not happening.

League wide, the third base position is just in a funk. There aren’t many good young 3Bs coming up, and the ones that have established themselves as quality players aren’t available. The 3B market this winter is basically going to be an aging Aramis Ramirez (if the Cubs don’t pick up his option) and a bunch of guys who wouldn’t make a difference.

So, the M’s have a hole that won’t be easy to fill. If they’re going to upgrade at third base this winter, they’re going to have to be creative. And if they decide not to upgrade at third base, but instead decide to stay in house, it’s tough to see exactly where they would spend the money they’ll have available.

All of the sudden, what was a pretty obvious off-season plan is now kind of murky. I don’t envy Jack Z.


61 Responses to “The Third Base Problem”

  1. ndevale on August 22nd, 2011 4:13 pm

    OK what about signing Reyes, trading for Alex Gordon AND Max Wieters? Would you give up Pineda, Paxton, and spare parts? I say yes. Then you have on the left side of the infield Ryan, Reyes, Gordon, and say Liddi. Or Triunfel. Or Catricala. Meanwhile Gordon plays left in a lose platoon with Wells, and they all take some DH ABs from Carp.
    Your 2012 outfield is Ichiro, Gutierrez, Wells, Gordon, a bit of Carp, and maybe Robinson. or Halman. Orioles wont give up Wieters? At this juncture I say overpay. Adam Moore, Paxton, plus whatever. Of course if the Yankees decline Swishers option…..
    Id still rather have Gordon’s flexibility.
    But hey, it aint my money, and who knows if Reyes would even sign it Seattle.

  2. eponymous coward on August 22nd, 2011 4:29 pm


    Albert Pujols


    Alex Gordon AND Max Wieters

    And now we enter the extended rosterbation session of the comment thread…

  3. wilchiro on August 22nd, 2011 4:31 pm

    Some of these ideas I’m seeing are insane. No, Matt Wieters isn’t going to be traded, and the Marlins front office loves Hanley Ramirez as if he’s a god or something.

    The third base market just isn’t going to be that big this offseason. Aramis Ramirez is entering the tail-end of his career, and I’m not sure he’d even come here in the first place. Headley may be available, but he’s not going to be cheap, as he’s the Padres best hitter and he’s locked up to a team friendly contract.

    Jack Z has shown interest in Pablo Sandoval in the past, but I doubt he could pull something off. David Wright is an interesting option, but I’m not sure why the Mets would sell him in the low point of his career.

    I think our best bet is getting somebody like Casey McGehee or Ian Stewart – two guys that have produced in the past that have struggled as of late and are non-tender candidates. Two nice buy low options that could be high reward pieces.

  4. Jerry on August 22nd, 2011 7:16 pm

    Trade Michael Saunders for Ian Stewart.

    Both players are talented and could use a change a scenery. I think it’s a pretty fair trade. Regardless, I think the M’s could work out a deal with COL to pick him up.

    Give Stewart an extended trail at 3B. If he can’t figur it out, at least it would give Martinez, Triunfel, Liddi, and Catricala a chance to polish up their games and hopefully emerge as a legit plan B.

    Signing Wilson Betemit as another option wouldn’t be a terrible idea either.

  5. Adam S on August 22nd, 2011 7:39 pm

    Best bet might be to hope the Cubs pick up Ramirez’s option and are willing to trade him. For 1/$14, he seems like a great stop gap.

    Barring that, we seem to be looking at a bunch of cheap options hoping someone turns out to be a 2 win player. Given that, isn’t the chance of Figgins rebounding better than an AAA or AAAA player becoming league average? Or has he simply worn out his welcome enough that they’ll give him away this off season?

  6. lamlor on August 22nd, 2011 7:46 pm

    Best bet might be to hope the Cubs pick up Ramirez’s option and are willing to trade him. For 1/$14, he seems like a great stop gap.

    He can’t be traded w/o approval and why would he want to come to Seattle where his numbers would suffer going into another free agency year?

    Betemit? Can’t field and offense isn’t strong enough to make up for it.

    Stewart? If the cost of the trade is cheap and IF you bring him in as a player to compete and not as a player to take over, then fine.

    If the M’s are not going to go big at 3B, then just let the kids play. We as fans have to stop settling for underachieving, or over-the-hill, or stop-gap solutions. We are a real baseball market with a real baseball fan base, and not in a small market venue. We have to stop thinking that we are or they will never offer us better quality than they have for the past decade. Expect more as a consumer, and the the money-makers will provide. Expect less, receive less.

    And my Pujols post was tung and cheek.

  7. raul_podzednick on August 22nd, 2011 9:01 pm

    as long as were throwing out far out ideas…

    What kind package would it take to get Jose Bautista?

  8. Boy9988 on August 22nd, 2011 10:47 pm

    I know this is gonna sound stupid and I pretty much know the answer already, but I’m gonna throw it at the wall anyway. Can Mike Carp play third base?

  9. lamlor on August 22nd, 2011 11:19 pm

    Can Mike Carp play third base?

    Not a stupid question, but I would doubt it only for the fact I think they would have tried that before moving him to LF. It would solve a lot of problems if he could.

  10. lesch2k on August 23rd, 2011 1:19 pm

    raul_podzednick on August 22nd, 2011 9:01 pm

    as long as were throwing out far out ideas…

    What kind package would it take to get Jose Bautista?

    2 of the group Ackley, Pineda and Felix should do the trick.

  11. raul_podzednick on August 30th, 2011 1:08 am

    I know this is gonna sound stupid and I pretty much know the answer already, but I’m gonna throw it at the wall anyway. Can Mike Carp play third base?

    I wrote this off at first, but now that I think of it. He has lost a lot of weight and is playing pretty good defense at first. I think he should at least get a look at 3B in Spring Training.

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