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July 29, 2009 at 8:24 AM

No way Jarrod Washburn stays with Seattle Mariners beyond Friday

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Ill be going on KJR AM 950 at 8:30 a.m. as part of my weekly Talkin’ Baseball segment with host Mitch Levy. Lots of trade talk, I’m sure.
Yes, we’re all waiting to see why Jeff Clement was pulled from last night’s game. Clearly, he is about to be dealt. He has no future in Seattle, either as a catcher, a DH or a first baseman and can likely pull in far more for the team as a secondary trade piece.
Back to Jarrod Washburn, who threw seven innings of one-run ball last night. No chance now that he sticks with Seattle beyond the deadline. The Mariners torched their realistic playoff hopes by dropping four in a row and failing to capitalize on the only two games the Angels managed to lose the past three months or so. Sorry, make that the last two weeks. Anyhow, the news put out by yesterday that the Mariners are finally ready to talk trade regarding Washburn was almost comical. Sure, Jack Zduriencik was waiting to see whether his team could pull off the near-impossible, like win three in a row and have the Angels drop three straight to put the gap at about 4 1/2 games in the division by mid-week. Had that happened, he might have put the brakes on any deal that could have impacted the team’s fortunes for this year.
But he had been talking to other clubs about Washburn. You don’t just throw deals together in a couple of days. You gauge interest and work out broader scenarios ahead of time to avoid last-minute holdups when it matters.
And Washburn is as good as gone.

Forget about the August 31 waiver deadline. Washburn is one of the hottest pitchers in all of baseball at the moment. As Roy Halladay told us the other night, you do look at results at some point. Results matter. And Washburn has been getting results. Any team that deals for him will only need him to keep generating those results for another two months, so, the fact that he isn’t a strikeout ace won’t be a major holdup. The teams that have been looking into Washburn can all catch the ball, so, as long as his “Dolphin” or “Flipper” pitch doesn’t get eaten by a shark and his sinker doesn’t float to the surface, he should be fine.
In other words, no way this guy gets through waivers.
He’s now perhaps the best trade deadline option outside of Halladay and Cliff Lee.
Much cheaper, too, from a trade perspective, but that doesn’t mean you give him away for nothing.
And the Mariners should be able to come away with a young, position-ready player in any Washburn dealings.
Will it be a shortstop? Not necessarily. But it doesn’t have to be J.J. Hardy either. Settling for a guy who will be a free-agent after 2010 just doesn’t sound like something a guy like Zduriencik would settle for when he’s got a hot commodity on his hands.
It was a gamble sending Washburn out there last night. In some ways, Zduriencik had no choice. The market was still in stall mode because of a lack of movement in the Halladay talks. Once those shake down, more focus will turn to Halladay.
But Washburn went out last night and, if anything, upped his value even more.
So, we’ve heard all the rumors out there.
It’s possible that three-way deal with Cleveland and Tampa Bay gets done and the Mariners land Reid Brignac from the Rays as a young shortstop. That would happen, according to the rumor, without Washburn, who could then be shipped to Milwaukee for second baseman Ricky Weeks.
Or, Washburn could be dealt in a package with a younger player or two and land shortstop prospect Alcides Escobar from Milwaukee. Though, as some of you correctly point out, while all the talking between the M’s and Brewers has gone on, the Brew Crew keep on losing. They are now 4 1/2 out in the division and five back in the wild-card race. If they decide not to be “buyers” then you can forget about any Washburn deal. If they lose again tonight, they are likely toast. That’s a big difference from Sunday, when we first discussed a possible Washburn deal with Milwaukee.
Zduriencik could hold off — though Clement being pulled makes it seem a deal is now imminent — and see what the Phillies would offer if they can’t get Halladay or Lee. The Phillies have a shortstop prospect named Jason Donald who just came back from knee surgery for a torn meniscus (nothing major) and, while not as sensational as Escobar, would still be a major return for Washburn.
The Detroit Tigers are also said to be interested in Washburn and the folks I spoke to yesterday mentioned Jeff Larish as a possible return. You remember Larish from all the J.J. Putz trade rumors last winter before a three-way deal involving the Rays fell through. He’s a lefty-swining corner infielder, better suited for first base than third from a defensive standpoint.
Why would the M’s want him? He’s got serious home run power. Sort of like a young Russell Branyan. Yeah, the M’s have Mike Carp in Class AAA. But he’s more of a doubles-guy in terms of pure power. Nothing wrong with using one as a DH and another as a first baseman though. An interesting scenario.
And then, there are the Minnesota Twins, just two back of Detroit in the AL Central. They had a scout here the other night tracking Sean White on the radar gun. Clement could fit nicely in Minnesota as a backup to injury-plagued catcher Joe Mauer, either as AAA depth or a twice-weekly spell behind the plate. Long-term, the Twins might want to move Mauer away from catching. You could leave Clement in the minors for now, then shift him to a DH and part-time catcher role in the bigs come 2010. Lots of options, just not here in Seattle, which has better catchers at AAA and in the majors already. Clement has been catching bullpens again for Tacoma. Perhaps he’s a throw-in for some type of Washburn deal there.
As for Washburn re-signing here next year if he’s dealt, that is still possible. But the truth is, he’d probably be less likely to do so.
Washburn has said repeatedly that he’d like to stay and is open to an extrension if the team wants to start talking. Nothing official has been done in that regard.
I asked Washburn on Monday if leaving as a two-month rental someplace else would make it less likely he’d come back here as a free-agent signee next winter.
He told me it’s still possible, but that, if it got to that point, he’d have to consider all of his options beyond the Mariners. In other words, he’d be looking at a field of 30 rather than just one.
But it’s a risk the Mariners will be willing to take, given how high his value has soared.



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