Seattle Mariners Trade Deadline Preview

Jeff Sullivan · July 23, 2013 at 5:59 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The Seattle Mariners haven’t lost for a while, and if they keep that up, they’re certain to make the 2013 MLB playoffs. Partially as a consequence of the team’s recent success, the front office has gone on record as saying it’s not really that interested in selling pieces off. But there are people who want to see moves, specifically because the Mariners probably won’t keep not losing for the next couple of months. The Mariners’ MLB playoffs odds are all but equivalent to the Mariners’ NHL playoffs odds; though they are equal in the standings to the Angels, which would’ve been exciting to know in March, the twist is that it’s the Angels who’re bad more than it’s the Mariners who’re good, and bad teams who aren’t going to the playoffs are supposed to sell present value for future value. That’s what we think we know — that’s what we think we understand.

Okay, so the Mariners aren’t bad. But the Mariners might not sell. And that might frustrate you, as a fan who likes transactions. But when you examine the Mariners’ roster, it would make sense for them to more or less stand pat. They don’t actually have all that much flexibility. We begin!

Aaron Harang
In April, the Mariners got Harang from the Rockies for Steven Hensley. Right before that, the Rockies got Harang from the Dodgers for Ramon Hernandez. Both times, Harang was packaged with cash, albeit not literally. As a Mariner, Harang has posted interesting peripherals, but also an ERA over 5. The Mariners might be able to dump him if that’s something they wanted to do, but there’s no value that would be coming back.

Hisashi Iwakuma
Hypothetically, this would be the Mariners’ big piece, as Iwakuma would have a lot of trade value were he put on the market. Over the past calendar year, among 135 starters with at least 100 innings, Iwakuma ranks 6th in park-adjusted ERA, 47th in park-adjusted FIP, and 16th in park-adjusted xFIP. He’s really quite good, even if he has a bit of a dinger problem. But the Mariners have expressed zero interest in moving him, as they like him, and he likes it here, and Iwakuma is a bargain potentially under contract through 2015. He’s in line to provide the Mariners with a lot of excess value, and while maybe they could get more value from moving him, it’s basically a coin flip and I’d be more than happy to keep him around. If the Mariners aren’t far away from being all right, then Iwakuma could be a part of a potential playoff contender.

Oliver Perez
Here’s a good piece I think the Mariners could and will move, because not only is Perez a left-handed reliever who’s a free agent to be, but he’s also been effective against righties, which is a rare and desirable quality. And the Mariners already have Charlie Furbush, and Lucas Luetge if you care about Lucas Luetge. Brian Moran has posted absurd numbers with Tacoma. Perez is desirable and expendable, and he should get dealt, but he’s also a non-closer reliever and as a return you’re talking about a second- or third-tier prospect. Last year, Edward Mujica got Zack Cox, and Mujica had another year of control. Jonathan Broxton got minor-league relievers. Craig Breslow got Matt Albers and Scott Podsednik.

Joe Saunders
Joe Saunders is basically Joe Saunders, as much as he’s ever been. He got traded last August, for Matt Lindstrom and money. To that point, he’d been a decent starter for the Diamondbacks. To this point, he’s been a decent starter for the Mariners. Saunders could easily be moved to someone looking for a back-of-the-rotation starter, but all the Mariners would really get out of that is a little extra money, or a half-interesting prospect we convince ourselves at the time is more interesting than he actually is.

Kendrys Morales
Here’s an interesting one, because Morales is reliable and good and set to be a free agent. But a National League team probably wouldn’t trust him to play first base all the time, making him mostly desirable to AL teams. And right now there are eight contending AL teams. The Red Sox don’t make sense, the Rangers don’t make sense, the Tigers don’t make sense, the A’s don’t make sense, and the Rays probably don’t make sense. That would leave maybe the Orioles, maybe the Yankees, and maybe the Indians. But the Orioles are said to be tapped out of money, and the Indians are sort of shuffling between Jason Giambi, Mark Reynolds, and Nick Swisher. The Yankees would be an obvious fit, but here’s the other point: what if the Mariners want Morales back? They could try to trade him for value, sure. Or they could keep him and extend a qualifying offer. If he accepts it, that’s a good player on a one-year contract. If he doesn’t, he’ll have a depressed market, and maybe the Mariners could re-sign him for a couple years. Sure, you could say that blocks Jesus Montero, but, oh no. Worry about that when Montero doesn’t suck. Morales has been solid this year, especially so if you consider that he played through a hurt back in parts of June, when he was ineffective.

Brendan Ryan
It would be great if the Mariners were dangling a starting shortstop around deadline time. Unfortunately what they might be dangling is Brendan Ryan. All Ryan’s fetching is a low-level nothing and a sigh.

Jason Bay
Jason Bay is still around! And his overall numbers show something! He’s a bench player, though, who’s batted just 38 times since the middle of June, and as much as he might attract some attention as a leader and as a quality teammate, people don’t pay out the nose for these guys, so there’s little incentive for the Mariners to dump Bay just because. Of course, he could get forced out in a roster crunch.

Endy Chavez
The Mariners signed Chavez for pennies in March. He’s subsequently posted a negative WAR.

Franklin Gutierrez
Maybe an August trade, maybe if Gutierrez comes back and actually plays some. I could see him as a high-upside gamble for a bench behind a questionable starter or two. But all you get for Gutierrez is salary relief. Nobody’s going to trust him. Franklin Gutierrez probably doesn’t trust him. Teams want to acquire certainty this time of year, not fliers.

Raul Ibanez
Another guy who’d fit with the Yankees in some capacity, but Ibanez, like Morales, is basically a DH, and despite the numbers he’s 41 years old and this has been one big ol surprise. Plenty of teams would love to have Ibanez on the bench, but no one’s going to cough up much value for a bench bat, and there just aren’t really teams that would see Ibanez as a starter. Throw in the fact that the Mariners aren’t motivated to trade Ibanez and that Ibanez isn’t motivated to leave, and this doesn’t look like a developing story. So the Mariners might get nothing in return for Ibanez, instead of a lower-tier prospect or two. They’ll hope that Ibanez’s continuing influence is of greater value than the lower-tier prospect(s). It’s not really a missed opportunity if it isn’t an opportunity for much.

Michael Morse
Morse hasn’t started since June 19, and he’s only now beginning a rehab assignment. He’s a DH facing the same issues as Ibanez and Morales, in terms of market, and while Morse had that enormous first go with the Mariners, he’s posted a .692 OPS since April 16. He’s a guy who’s been hurt and relatively ineffective and even before getting hurt he wasn’t a capable defender at any position. The Mariners sold Morse as a big splash when they got him, and that’s what they were hoping he was going to be, but there’s no second big splash. The Mariners could probably move Morse if they wanted, but not only might they not want to — there’s not much they could get. Teams love dingers and personality, but they also love durability and defense. Morse is no one’s idea of a season solution.

There are moves that the Mariners could make, and I expect that some will be made. But the big ones? I don’t see the big ones panning out, either because I don’t think the Mariners would do them, or because I don’t think the return would be substantial. The Mariners aren’t sitting on a potential prospect haul. If they have a pretty underwhelming deadline, it’s not because they missed a chance. It’s because, whatever. What the team has been, it’s probably mostly going to be.


18 Responses to “Seattle Mariners Trade Deadline Preview”

  1. californiamariner on July 23rd, 2013 6:08 pm

    I didn’t realize before this article that Iwakuma has a club option for 2015. This makes me want to keep him even more.

  2. GarForever on July 23rd, 2013 6:19 pm

    Thanks for this, Jeff. This puts in much better terms than I could have what I’ve intuitively felt for the past few weeks. It has been so long since there has been a Mariners team that actually isn’t a chore to watch that as a fan I would rather see this team stay more or less intact than see the front office sell pieces off for parts that more than likely will never contribute. If I thought the Mariners could get real pieces in return for guys like Ibanez I would feel differently, but it seems there is real value in keeping him and Joe Saunders (unless someone *really* wants to overpay for him) and trying to build a winning climate for next year. And I could be wrong, and one never knows with these things anyway, but it seems the M’s would probably get a better talent from the compensatory draft pick that would result from a qualifying offer to Kendrys Morales and him signing elsewhere, than they would from trading him straight up now. And, of course, if we want him back and someone else extends him the QO, then it’s our first round pick that will be on the chopping block if we re-sign him; I think this team is solid enough now that they are unlikely to have one of the worst ten records come season’s end.

  3. Snuffy on July 23rd, 2013 6:24 pm

    GarForever gets my thumbs up.

  4. Longgeorge1 on July 23rd, 2013 6:53 pm

    I don’t think we would trade Morales for less than the value of a first round pick. It makes no sense to give up a player midseason for less than what you would be guaranteed at the end of the season

  5. kennyb on July 23rd, 2013 9:01 pm

    Gar- I agree with your point of view but if they trade Morales his new team couldn’t extend a QO. You have to have the player the whole year.

  6. stevemotivateir on July 23rd, 2013 9:23 pm

    And, of course, if we want him back and someone else extends him the QO, then it’s our first round pick that will be on the chopping block if we re-sign him; I think this team is solid enough now that they are unlikely to have one of the worst ten records come season’s end.

    The player has to have been with the team from the start of the season. The M’s could still try to sign him as a free agent, though that’s probably unlikely.

    My guess is that they will try to extend him, trading him would be plan ‘B’.


    There’s no guarantees. He could be injured, or suck, and have no value by the end of the season, kind of like what we’re seeing right now with Morse. If the M’s could get a solid (reasonable) prospect out of him, I would bet Jack takes it. But as Jeff pointed out, only a few teams really make sense, so it will be real interesting to see how this plays out.

  7. GarForever on July 23rd, 2013 9:41 pm

    kennyb — thanks. I knew that at one point but had forgotten it.

  8. GarForever on July 23rd, 2013 9:46 pm

    Still, I stand by the point that I would prefer not to see him moved for anything less than a more-than-fringy prospect. I don’t think Z would, and since as both Jeff and Steve point out there won’t be enough fits to drive up the price, I would be surprised if anyone makes the Ms an offer they can’t refuse.

  9. just a fan on July 23rd, 2013 10:33 pm

    The Mariners need Morse and Gutierrez as potent right-handed bats off the bench. Gutierrez can be the 5th OF and late inning offensive and defensive replacement.

    Besides, the Mariners will be buyers. 88 in a row

  10. seagood3 on July 24th, 2013 5:51 am

    I find it interesting now that things are going relatively well for the Mariners, and we haven’t heard anything from Dave in some time. I guess he can’t find anything negative to post on right now.

  11. ChrisFB on July 24th, 2013 6:39 am

    @seagood3 – Or, the more positive angle is that Marc and Jeff have been doing just fine with regular M’s analysis, and that there’s nothing novel to say at the moment outside of that.

    It’s also sort of no-win for him, in that if he doesn’t post about the win streak people wonder where he got to and why he only have negative things to say, and if he does talk about the M’s success then some people might take the opportunity to razz him about either past pessimism or small sample sizes.

    Besides, he just posted some raves about Brad Miller like 3 weeks ago.

  12. Westside guy on July 24th, 2013 6:43 am

    Yeh, I was gonna say – wasn’t Dave’s last piece talking about how excited he was about Brad Miller?

  13. heyoka on July 24th, 2013 7:39 am

    What I haven’t seen in any deadline trade posts are proposals. Actual teams actual B level prospects that we might be interested in.

  14. furlong on July 24th, 2013 7:51 am

    I was at the Rainer’s game yesterday and Montero was the first base coach and looks to have put on 10 to 15 pounds since last in Seattle.

  15. islandan on July 24th, 2013 8:45 am

    At first, the thought of Ibanez to the Yanks makes sense, what with his history there too. But, while at the Monday night game, there was Raul, warming up with the ‘kiddie corp’ (Miller, Franklin, Zunino, Smoak and Ackley) in the pre-game. It could have been an insignificant moment in time, but, I think not. It was good to see, Poppa Bear leading the pack……

  16. gag harbor on July 24th, 2013 9:44 am

    The Yankees just might end up “sellers” with the way they are playing. The playoffs are likely a bridge too far for that weird group of players.

    As for the Mariners, I’d feel better at this time of year if I had more confidence in their ability to trade for value. For an organization that seems to draft pretty well, their scouting for trades has been unimpressive. I’d much prefer a .500 ball club this year than trying to find the next Furbush.

  17. bfgboy on July 24th, 2013 10:19 am

    I know that I’ve changed my tune, however it is not in response to the “streak.” It is only recently that I began to grasp the reality that this article spells out perfectly; nobody wants our junk. Don’t get me wrong, our junk is good junk for what we need, but it is mostly of little value to anybody but us. I would like to see them sell of Morse and Guti to save money to add to next year’s budget (HA!).

    With all of that said, Perez is an unneeded luxury that they could capitalize on. We know Atlanta has been looking for left-handed relief, is Joey Terdoslavic too much to get? He just got called up and was producing well at AAA. Is that too much to ask for, or not enough?

  18. Paul B on July 24th, 2013 10:56 am

    If Z isn’t actively looking to move anyone, he also is listening to offers. Albeit sometimes merely to be polite.

    I hope that someone offers something of value for Morse or Ibanez or one of the bullpen pitchers or Ryan. But that seems like the only way there would be a trade, and that seems like a long shot.

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