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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

May 18, 2009 at 9:34 AM

Improving Mariners looking to trade Yuniesky Betancourt to the Pirates for Jack Wilson?

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A nice win by the Mariners yesterday, as seen in the photo above. They needed a weekend like this. That’s two good series in a row by the Mariners, even though they only got results on this one occasion.
I was impressed by how Jason Vargas overcame that Yuniesky Betancourt error in the second inning. The error caused Vargas to throw 19 additional pitches and forced him to ultimately leave after 5 1/3 innings instead of, say seven.
Speaking of Betancourt, my sources tell me the team has been sniffing around potential deals to bolster their middle infield. One scenario would see the Mariners send Betancourt to the Pittsburgh Pirates for veteran shortstop Jack Wilson.
The Pirates were rumored to be looking to move Wilson over the winter. He is 31, making him four years older than Betancourt (at least, upside-wise as opposed to results-wise). Offensively, the pair appear quite similar, with a slight nod to Betancourt. Defensively, Wilson would be a serious upgrade over what Betancourt has offered of late and that appears to be the driving force between even looking at such a deal.
Would other players be involved? I don’t know the answer. Salary-wise, Wilson earns $7.4 million this year, with about $5.6 million remaining. He has an $8.4 million club option for next year with a $600,000 buyout.
Betancourt is owed roughly $8.35 million through the 2011 season (and there’s a $2 million buyout for 2012 as well). In other words, the guaranteed money being swapped, plus the buyout pushes it to Betancourt being more costly. The guaranteed years, obviously, would favor the Pirates. But the Mariners, don’t forget, have Carlos Triunfel working his way up through the minors. Before he broke his leg, Triunfel was in Class AA and perhaps a year or two away from cracking the major league roster. So, the Mariners would not need Wilson to be here for three or four years.
Don’t forget, the Mariners have roughly $40 million coming off their books this off-season should the quartet of Adrian Beltre, Erik Bedard, Jarrod Washburn and Miguel Batista be leaving. It’s not inconceivable that the team could carry an $8.4 million shortstop in 2010, especially should Beltre leave and a glove be needed to solidify the left side on the infield. If not…should the M’s pick up, say, a young shortstop in a mid-season trade involving one of the aforementioned four players, it would cost them just $600,000 to dump Wilson.
Will this deal happen? Don’t know. But it makes sense on many levels and I’m told it’s been discussed.
By the way, I have to say that the last two outings by Mark Lowe are the best I’ve seen him look since I arrived in Seattle in September 2006. Lowe appears to have finally put something together here. It looks like it’s finally “clicked” for him — where he has the command to harness those 99 mph fastballs and devastating off-speed pitches. If that’s true, then, once Brandon Morrow does the same, this bullpen will have the look of what playoff contenders throw out there. A bunch of guys throwing 95-100 mph from the sixth inning onward. It will indeed “shorten the game”, as it did yesterday.
Solidify the defense a little more, things could get interesting.



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