Sorry for the late start, as I’m off this weekend after the three-city road trip and not around to cover the team’s games. This was always going to be a busy weekend for GM Jack Zduriencik and today he indeed played the “seller” role by dealing pitchers Doug Fister and David Pauley to the Detroit Tigers for a lefty reliever and future outfield and infield help. They also get a player-to-be-named.
Seattle receives left-handed pitcher Charlie Furbush, Class AA third baseman Francisco Martinez and outfielder Casper Wells (photo above), who has already spent time in the majors.
Wells appears to be the key to this package. I saw him in the Arizona Fall League back in October 2009 when he was considered a jewel of Detroit’s minor league system.
Martinez is the No. 4 rated prospect the Tigers have, but again, he’s two levels below the majors at the moment.
Photo Credit: AP
Yes, the Mariners did give up quite a bit in Fister, who will be under Tigers control through 2015 and is not arbitration eligible until after next season. That means he’s going to be a six-figure pitcher next year.
But you have to give up something to get something. And the Mariners need something in both the infield and outfield corners for when they’ll finally be ready to contend. We don’t know when exactly that will be, but it wasn’t going to be this season and very likely not next year either.
Wells can play all three outfield positions and gives the M’s some insurance in the event Franklin Gutierrez doesn’t pan out long-term. For now, he’s an instant upgrade in left field as the M’s also try to figure out what they have in Greg Halman.
He also had an isolated power (ISO) rating of .195 this year and .215 last in limited stints with the Tigers. The M’s don’t have a veteran close to that at the moment and only Dustin Ackley’s .206 can match it and he’s had a scintilating start to his career.
So, yes, the M’s have made out pretty well with this deal.
The Tigers are in “win now” mode and need both Fister and Pauley to deliver right away. Getting more control down the road is a bonus and that’s why they gave up Wells and a AA prospect with upside.
But this is still a classic “seller” move to give “win now” pieces to a “buyer”. Not exactly a rental, but the guys the M’s have received in return aren’t exactly C-level prospects either. They made out OK with this. At the start of this season, few saw Fister as anything more than a fifth starter while Pauley was AAA depth being thrown into a cobbled-together bullpen.
In Furbush, they get a lefty reliever who will take the spot of the demoted Aaron Laffey, who has not pitched effectively in the second half so far. Furbush is only 25 and appears better-suited for a situational reliever role the M’s haven’t really had in Laffey.
As long as this team isn’t trying to win something this year — and probably next year as well — they have time to watch guys like Wells and Martinez develop. It gives them more options than they had before — including the option to deal Gutierrez this winter if they decide he’ll never be anything more than a one-dimensional glove player.
Stuff has to happen first before a Gutierrez move. For one, the M’s would have to be satisfied that either one of Wells, Halman or Michael Saunders is ready to do more as a full-time major leaguer in center. Or, at least rotate between there and left field.
Judging by what Gutierrez has managed at the plate this season and for much of last, the answer would appear to be “yes”. But Zduriencik is the guy who gets paid to figure out how much of Guti’s performance is temporary and whether it will carry over long-term.
He’s the guy who has to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em on Gutierrez. For now, he at least has alternatives to running a sub-.200 hitter with no power out there up the middle seven days a week. Or even four days a week.