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January 31, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Would Mariners have tried to land Brett Lawrie instead of Jesus Montero? You betcha

Listen to this morning’s stint on KJR AM 950’s Mitch in the Morning show by clicking right here.
Interesting report out of Toronto from old buddy Jeff Blair, who I used to work with all the way back in Montreal days in the early 1990s. Blair is pretty plugged in when it comes to the Blue Jays and their ownership, so I believe him when he says that the Mariners first tried to trade Michael Pineda to Toronto for third baseman Brett Lawrie.
The Blue Jays are said to have declined the offer. After that, the M’s dealt Pineda to the Yankees for Jesus Montero.
Now, I don’t even have to know who Blair’s sources are to believe this report is accurate.
Photo Credit: AP

That’s because anybody who has spent time around Mariners amateur scouting director Tom McNamara understands that he has the closest thing to a man-crush on Lawrie that any executive could have for a player not on his team. And who can blame him?
McNamara is an interesting guy and you don’t have to spend more than five minutes talking to him before he’ll tell stories of having scouted Lawrie from the time the British Columbia native was a teenager in Canada. Back then, McNamara was still with the Brewers working with Jack Zduriencik. Milwaukee also has a Canadian assistant GM in Gord Ash who is well-tuned to prospects north of the border.
No surprise then, that Milwaukee took Lawrie in the first round (16th overall) of the 2008 draft.
And ever since, McNamara has been dreaming of someday being able to reunite with the third baseman. You’d have to think Zduriencik would be as well.
Lawrie would have given the team their third baseman of the future. Montero is no sloppy seconds as a backup plan, but the Mariners already had several DH types and the jury is still out on whether the Pineda trade return will ever stick as a catcher.
With Lawrie, a position of real need would have been filled. Lawrie in Class AAA posted an on-base-plus-slugging percentage beyond 1.000 and made his debut with Toronto last year, posting a.953 OPS with nine homers and a .373 on-base percentage.
In other words, he’s looking like a throwback to what power hitting third basemen used to be.
So far, the Mariners plan to enter 2012 with Kyle Seager and Chone Figgins vying for third base time. Both look like utilitymen at this stage. Figgins used to play third for a playoff team, but he’s got a lot to prove in 2012 before anyone can consider him the same way he used to be.
And until the Mariners find their long-term answers at third base, left field, right field, shortstop, catcher and heck — depending on how Franklin Gutierrez rebounds — center field as well, any talk of this team contending in the next two years is premature. The Mariners are prepared to sink or swim with Justin Smoak at first base, Dustin Ackley at second base and Montero likely at DH.
Other than that, I doubt anyone in the front office can tell you who will be manning the other positions come 2014.
Lawrie would have given them one more answer at a position more key than DH from an offensive and defensive standpoint. If you ask me, the Blue Jays were wise not to pull the trigger on the deal. For McNamara, the dream lives on. But make no mistake: the Mariners would have made this move in a heartbeat.

Comments | Topics: Chone Figgins, Jesus Montero


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