Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said moments ago that a major reason he did nothing at this year’s trade deadline was a desire to keep the team together.
“Again, I think from an organizational standpoint, there is a commitment from us to the players,” Zduriencik said. “And I hope that this message, the fact that we kept this group of guys together, I hope they together realize that, ‘OK, so we believe in what you’re doing. We believe that you guys can compete. And let’s continue to do that. Let’s continue to play good baseball.’ ”
That’s all fine and good for the next two months. But if a core of veterans currently on one-year deals suddenly leaves come November with little in compensation going back to Seattle, what are the net gains to the franchise really going to be? Two months of player harmony? I put this question to Zduriencik and he gave a very interesting answer: perhaps one that gets to the crux of why he did not trade Michael Morse or Kendrys Morales today.
“When you let a guy leave, it’s harder to get him back,” Zduriencik said. “Once you break your marriage up and all of a sudden you want to go back and ask that player to come back, at the end that’s much harder to do. He probably feels somewhat betrayed and now you’re basically starting all over again. The fact that the guys are here, certainly they have the right to walk. But we also have the right to have the first opportunity to sign them if we choose to do that. And I think that’s important to a player, especially if they like Seattle.
“(If they say) ‘I’d like to be a part of this thing going forward. I like what’s going on here. Man, it would be great!’ Who knows what’s going to happen? We’re going to be able to maye have the inside track on bringing some of these players back here. And that was a little bit of the thinknig as well.”
Zduriencik was asked whether he’d already started negotiating extensions with any players. He said he’d had preliminary talks with some oth indirectly (through a third part) and directly.
Just guessing here, but initial talks would likely have been with Scott Boras, the agent for Morales, whose English is limited. Morse and Raul Ibanez would seem like two good candidates for that as well.
“I do think that as we move forward from now until the end of the year, that will accelerate as we move closer to the end,” he said.
Zduriencik said he was very blunt up front with clubs that called him. If they wanted him to “cut the cord” with certain players, then “there’s a price to be paid for that.”
And in the end, that price wasn’t met. Not to the point where Zduriencik felt it would be worth breaking up the team — and the letdown that might follow from those in the cluhouse — and losing that exclusive negotiating window with the veterans.
As interim manager Robby Thompson put it once the deadline had passed: “We weren’t going to give guys away for some ‘A’ ball prospect.”