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August 5, 2009 at 10:45 AM

Which top Mariners player could be moved by Aug. 31 deadline?

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Geoff Baker
Geoff Baker
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Have been asked this question going on a little while now. If it came down to Adrian Beltre, Erik Bedard or Russell Branyan, which player would the Mariners have the best chance of getting through waivers and trading by July 31?
Clearly, Branyan has the most to offer a team right now. He’s a guy with 24 home runs and a lefty slugger making only a few hundred grand the rest of the season.
Which is why I think he has no chance of moving on.

First off, he’d get claimed in a heartbeat if the Mariners tried to move him through waivers. Then, the M’s would be stuck at trying to negotiate a deal with just one team that would not be under duress to deal anything of real value.
You’d get a “B” level prospect at best. Or else, the would-be trading partner could just throw up its hands and say “Fine, you keep him.”
And the M’s would have to.
Now, if you’re the Mariners, you have to strongly consider even a “B” prospect for just a six or seven-week rental of a guy. But you also have to weigh how badly losing Branyan might impact your team going forward. We talked about this yesterday. How the Mariners have managed to pull off the feat of rebuilding while maintaining a winning record and being competitive.
Lose Branyan, though, and that offense that has floundered all year takes a huge hit. Maybe your team doesn’t finish with a winning record. Maybe you lose some of that buzz you’ve generated all year — buzz that will be crucial towards selling tickets for next season.
So, for a “B” prospect, I don’t see the M’s being all that willing to move Branyan.
And he won’t get through waivers. Forget that.
A guy who will get through is Bedard. I’d be surprised if the Mariners haven’t tried to put him through waivers already.
Bedard is owed about $2.5 million the remainder of the year and has been on the DL for most of the past two months. He has to get out and pitch before any team will risk making a waiver claim on him. So, he should get through waivers with ease. But then, you have to trade him to somebody. And that somebody will want to see him get out on the mound and throw the ball at least six innings at a time — multiple times — before committing seven figures to him.
Bedard won’t be ready to take the mound Aug. 10 when he’s eligible to come off the DL. Let’s say he goes Aug. 15. That gives him maybe three starts to get a team interested. You can try to squeeze a fourth one in right at the deadline as well but then you’re wasting time. Remember, a team will want Bedard to help their playoff run. If you wait until right before the deadline to trade for him, you get him for maybe five starts before season’s end. Not great value.
So, the M’s want Bedard up and firing on all cylinders once he comes off that DL.
Why do you think they’ve ruled out using him in the bullpen? Or breaking him in slowly and building up his endurance?
This isn’t about that.
It’s about getting him on the mound to see if he can show enough as a starter to
be dealt by Aug. 31.
Otherwise, the M’s will likely let him walk for nothing at season’s end.
Forget that compensatory draft pick, now in Type B stage, that you’d get for Bedard. To qualify, the M’s would have to offer him arbitration first. And he might accept. In fact, he’d be nuts not to, because there are no huge multiple-year offers waiting out there for a guy who’s barely pitched in two years. He earns about $8 million this year, so he’d be in line to make something like $10 million in an arbitration award. His numbers are good when he actually pitches.
So, unless you can make a behind-the-scenes deal with Bedard to decline arbitration — deals like this do happen — then you can’t afford to risk getting stuck with a pricetag like that on a guy who might need shoulder surgery this winter.
In other words, it’s getting less and less likely the M’s will find a trade partner to take Bedard off their hands.
Which brings us to Beltre, who went hitless in his return to action last night after missing only five weeks due to shoulder surgery.
Beltre is also a guy who can be slipped through waivers right now, when teams are still skeptical about his health. He’s owed just under $4 million for the rest of the year and that’s too steep for a guy just off the DL. So, waivers shouldn’t be an issue. Unlike Branyan, the team has played .500 ball without him for five weeks, so the M’s know what they’d be getting into. Beltre’s bat wasn’t exactly smoking in April and May either.
And Beltre, unlike Bedard, is an everyday player, so he’ll have more immediate value as a rental over the 45 or so games you’d get him for in a mid-August deal. Teams will want to see how Beltre plays this next week or two, then could be ready to pull the trigger. The pricetag will impact the type of player the M’s get back.
If they want an “A” prospect, I’m pretty sure they’d have to be willing to swallow some money. Otherwise, it’s a “B” type of prospect — my definitions of “A” and “B” will differ from others, as is always the case with these things — and the salary taken off Seattle’s hands.
Like Bedard, you’re not going to offer Beltre arbitration and risk having him take it and be stuck paying him $14 million next year. Not for Type B compensation. So, I do think the Mariners will try to move him.
And of all the players we’ve discussed and who are now on this Mariners team, Beltre moving on makes the most sense.
Think about it.
Could be another reason they kept Jack Hannahan around yesterday. Makes more sense than the other explanations I heard.



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