Jarrod Washburn, after another outstanding effort in the Mariners’ 2-1 victory over Detroit, talked extensively and openly about the impending trade deadline. There were numerous scouts on hand to watch him pitch today, and he knows that he could be dealt. He made it clear that he wants to stay with the Mariners — a far cry from his admitted disappointment last year when team president Chuck Armstrong nixed a trade to the Twins in August.
Washburn can be a free agent after the season when his four-year, $37.5 million contract expires. I asked him if he’d be open to working on a contract extension right now, which would obviously take him off the trade market. Washburn’s seven shutout innings on Thursday lowered his earned-run-average to 2.71..
“I’d definitely be interested in talking about that,” he said.
When I talked to GM Jack Zduriencik last week, he had alluded to the possibility that a potential free agent could re-sign with the team. Many players choose to table contract talks until after the season, but Washburn said he didn’t believe it would be a distraction.
“I’m not easily distracted,” he said. “I don’t think it would be something that would be a detriment and distract me to where I couldn’t do my job like I’m doing it now. Off the field stuff is just that, off the field stuff. When you get between the lines, your job is making pitches. I’m real good about being able to separate the two.”
I noted that his agent, Scott Boras, has a reputation for advising his clients who are headed into free agency to go into the free-agent market.
“My agent works for me,” he said with a smile.
So far, however, no serious extension talks are underway, Washburn said. “Jack and I have talked a little bit. Nothing has gotten any further than talking.”
Here’s what else Washburn said after the game about the trade deadline hanging over the team:
“We know the only way we can control what’s going to happen is at least try to make the decisions hard for Jack. Hopefully, we won’t be in a position we’re going to be selling the whole team off. I think we’re making it hard on him. Let’s see what he ends up doing, but we’re happy with the way we’re playing. We definitely need to come out and start the second half strong to continue the momentum we had at the end of the first half.”
He admitted that it’s a “day to day feeling,” with emotions ebbing and flowing with each day’s result.
“A lot can happen in a day. Guti (Franklin Gutierrez) hitting the wall — luckily, he didn’t hurt anything serious,and he’ll only be out a couple of days. But if he was going to be out a long time, that might make some decisions easier for Jack. That would be a tough guy to replace. But we’ve had a few tough guys to replace go down this year, but it seems like someone steps up and fills that role. I don’t doubt anything we can accomplish here.”
When it was noted to him that most players don’t even acknowledge that they pay attention to the trade deadline, he said, “Everybody lies. I’ve always said what’s on my mind and don’t sugar-coat anything. I think the guys that say they don’t are lying. It’s just natural, I think, to pay attention.”
Here’s how Washburn compared last year at the trade deadline to this year: “In hindsight, it looks like it was a good thing for me not to get traded. I’m real happy here where I’m at. And I’m pitching well, and we’ve got a shot. We’ve got a good team. I’m happy I wasn’t traded so I could stick around and help turn it around.”
I asked him, bottom line, if he wants to stay in Seattle.
“If I’m traded, it means something bad happened in the next 10 days. That’s the last thing I want to happen. I love winning, and we’re winning here. We have maybe the best group of guys I’ve ever been a part of, and that’s saying a lot. That ’02 team in Anaheim (that won the World Series), we were a great team. Everybody loved each other. We had fun. We did whatever it took to win. That’s the exact same feel I have with this ballclub. I’m very happy to be a part of it, and yeah, I want to continue to be a part of it.”