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November 26, 2010 at 10:32 AM

Trade value for Mariners closer David Aardsma has gone up without his throwing another pitch

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There had been some hemming and hawing, as the 2010 season closed, about how the Mariners could be hard-pressed to move closer David Aardsma in a trade this winter. The rationale behind trading Aardsma is solid: the Mariners will not contend in 2011, have Brandon League and other hard-throwing arms in the bullpen or Class AAA and know that Aardsma’s arbitration award will be somewhere between $4 million and $5 million. That’s too much for a team claiming to have limited financial flexibility this winter. So, you offload Aardsma’s coming salary and attempt to acquire a piece or two in return.
With so many higher end relievers hitting the free agency market this winter, some had assumed the price of obtaining such an arm would come down, making it tougher to move Aardsma.
But so far, that hasn’t been the case. In fact, the opposite appears to be happening after 33-year-old Joaquin Benoit signed a three-year, $16.5 million deal with the Tigers.
Benoit is your typical journeyman who has parlayed one good year into a jackpot deal.
So, what does that mean for premium guys like Rafael Soriano or Grant Balfour? We’ll see. But you can expect negotiations for them to take longer, now that their agents have seen what Benoit got.
Which leaves a nice opening for Jack Zduriencik and company to fill a need and acquire some needed salary room.


Teams not wanting to pay the “Benoit Premium” the market may now command, could look towards a cheaper alternative via the trade route with the M’s.
I’d look at the Tampa Bay Rays as a Seattle trade partner right now, given the hit their bullpen stands to take with off-season moves. Aardsma is not exactly cheap for a team planning on cutting payroll — as the Rays are — but if you can offset some of his cost by sending a seven-figure player Seattle’s way (one the Mariners need, not just another team’s dump) then it’s a more palatable solution for Tampa Bay than fixing the bullpen via free agency.
Or, if you don’t like what Tampa Bay has to offer, you look at dealing Aardsma to another team that doesn’t want to wait out the relief pitching market in hopes that prices come down.
In any event, developments such as the Benoit signing will only serve Seattle’s needs. The glut of relievers on the open market, so far, has not stopped inflation on relief pitchers.
One more reason why Aardsma almost certainly does not make it to opening day with the Mariners.

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