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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

Category: trade deadline
July 31, 2013 at 8:01 AM

Which impact player makes sense for Mariners to trade? Michael Morse

Michael Morse has played hurt or been on the DL most of this season and is likely gone for nothing in two months. Photo Credit: AP

Michael Morse has played hurt or been on the DL most of this season and is likely gone for nothing in two months. Photo Credit: AP

We’re just hours away from the 1 p.m. PT trade deadline for deals not involving waivers. After that period, trades can still be made up until Aug. 31, but the players involved must first clear waivers — meaning anyone not costing a fortune is likely to get a claim put in on them.

Up to this point, we’ve heard the Mariners will not be dealing any of their impact bats unless an offer blows them off their feet.

Not sure that’s the best attitude to be taking. The Mariners, no matter what they try to say, are not contending this year. They now have a less-than-great chance at even a .500 season.

A week ago, things were different. They had won eight in a row, had one game left against the Cleveland Indians and then four at home against the Minnesota Twins. The chance to change their trade deadline destiny was there. Had they gone 4-1, they’d be a few games under .500 as of right now with plenty of positive momentum.

Instead, they went 2-3, then lost last night to go to 2-4 since this time a week ago. Their destiny is pretty much sealed where contention is concerned. And now, the offense is reverting back to what it has been so often this year in scoring two runs per game or fewer on too many nights facing too many average pitchers.

Too many times this year, the Mariners had chances to change their fate. And too often, they fell short, whether it was blowing 1-0 leads in the ninth inning at home to bad Houston and Minnesota teams, or an 8-1 advantage on the road in Anaheim. The Mariners are a better club than the last few years. But now that they’ve erased that unfortunate eight-game losing streak with an eight-game win streak, we see pretty much what they truly are: a team six games under .500. A team that has underperformed. A team that won’t be going anyplace but the golf course once September ends.

Teams like those usually don’t look to horde any impact bats on one-year deals come trade deadline time. They usually look to shop those bats and get some return for them.

I understand the Mariners wanting to play for .500 this year and honestly have little problem with it. At some point, they have to convince the ticket-buying, TV-watching public that there is something to this rebuilding plan other than more young players. They have to show that, five years in, they are going to win something one of these years and a .500 season just might do that. It doesn’t matter if it means anything scientifically; this is a  business and selling your customers on your product matters.

Also, the Mariners could get a draft pick back if they make somebody like Kendrys Morales a qualifying offer at season’s end. If he takes it, you get Morales one more year at about $14 million. If he declines, you get the compensatory pick tacked on to the first round. In other words, the equivalent of a pretty good mid-season prospect.

So, I can understand not wanting to move Morales. Especially if the Mariners are worried that pulling him from the middle of the order will hurt their once-again-struggling offense even more and remove all hope of a .500 season.

But there is one impact bat that can be traded. One that makes sense and won’t cost you those other things I just mentioned.

The bat is Michael Morse.


Comments | More in trade deadline | Topics: michael morse; kendrys morales; raul ibanez; franklin gutierrez

July 30, 2013 at 8:42 AM

Too many contenders in baseball? Not really

Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson celebrate on mound in 1995 as Mariners beat Angels in one-game playoff to cap one of the greatest regular season comebacks in MLB history when it comes to qualifying for post-season play. Photo Credit: AP

Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson celebrate on mound in 1995 as Mariners beat Angels in one-game playoff to cap one of the greatest regular season comebacks in MLB history when it comes to qualifying for post-season play. Photo Credit: AP

One of the common complaints we hear repeated almost mantra-like these days is that the trade deadline is coming too early because the second wild-card format has created “contenders” out of too many teams.

Well, not really.

Sure, a team trying to make a case to its own fanbase that it is worth taking seriously can claim to be “in a race” for something if it is single digits back in the wild card hunt with more than a month to go. That type of thing has gone on for years, even if you can count on one hand the number of teams that actually overcame such gaps. It’s all part of the business of baseball and marketing such faux contenders is a big part of keeping not only butts in the seats, but, more importantly, eyes glued to TV sets. As long as teams have their fans thinking they are somewhat in contention — realistic or not — the most casual of those fans will usually flip on a TV set to watch baseball they can justify as meaningful.

Here in Seattle, we all remember 1995, which, just as a reminder, happened 18 years ago for the Mariners. Not last week. We’ve seen some crazy come-from-behind repeats since, with the Cardinals and Rays doing it just two years ago — that St. Louis bunch actually going on to win the World Series. The Colorado Rockies came back huge in 2007 and went on to play in the World Series.
So, yeah, great comebacks do happen. Especially in wild-card races, where the teams vying for them are sometimes less than championship caliber and hence, not good enough to win their division and perhaps prone to squandering huge leads in the standings.


Comments | More in trade deadline | Topics: 1995, ODDS, WILD CARD PLAYOFFS

July 17, 2013 at 10:19 AM

A look at who the Mariners might trade come July 31

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ADDITIONAL NOTE: The Mariners will start Joe Saunders against the Astros on Friday, followed by Hisashi Iwakuma on Saturday and Felix Hernandez on Sunday.

The Mariners face an interesting challenge come the July 31 trade deadline. They have to balance their need to keep on winning — and gaining back some fan approval — versus improving the club long-term.

No, it isn’t all tied together. Part of the team’s off-season “plan” involved signing a bunch of veterans to one-year contracts. The idea was that they would either help the team win some games now, or else could be extended or shipped off at the deadline.

Keeping them all year long to help a 70-win team become a 75-win team wasn’t really the so-called plan. But that’s exactly what could happen if the Mariners do nothing and keep all of their short-termers here until their deals run out.

With Kendrys Morales, you can keep him all year make him a qualifying offer and if he accepts, pay him $14 million or so to stick around next season. Or, he he turns it down, you collect a compensatory draft pick after the first round is over. There is also the option of signing him long-term, but with Justin Smoak now showing signs of being every bit as productive, Morales is looking more and more like a permanent DH option. And the Mariners were already supposed to have Jesus Montero being groomed for that role, so unless they are bailing on Montero, I’m not sure how Morales fits at a lofty price.

So, yes, trading him is indeed an option. As is trading Raul Ibanez and Joe Saunders, two other guys with some market value and not worth extending a qualifying offer to because they’d be far-too-pricey if they accepted.

Thing is, some of the veterans with the most value for a club during a two-month stretch run — think Morales, Ibanez, Hisashi Iwakuma — are part of the very glue that has held this club together. Want to rely on Mike ZuninoNick FranklinBrad Miller and Erasmo Ramirez to carry the load and keep this winning stretch going during the Dog Days of August? OK, then. But that’s probably not something Jack Zduriencik wants to do.

Zduirenick knows how fragile this little winning stretch he’s put together could be. His team was on-pace for 92 losses prior to a recent sweep of the Angels and very well could be headed in that direction again if he deals away too many key veteran pieces.

That’s why I see all those veterans I just mentioned — with the exception of Saunders — sticking around.

Michael Morse is a different story, since his injuries have severely hampered any trade value he’d have. If he gets healthy, the Mariners could try to deal him in August — though he doesn’t cost all that much and would likely be snapped up in a waiver claim. The Mariners could also try to work out a multi-year deal with Morse at a more team-friendly rate. No guarantee he’d go for it, but it’s possible and seems their best option now. Making him a qualifying offer would be risky because $14 million is a lot to spend on a guy who — if he accepts the offer — has had trouble staying on the field.

The reason Saunders could go is the Mariners might want to use the final 2 1/2 months of their schedule to audition Class AAA starters Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. That would require some rotation space being filled up and if you can clear a spot by dealing Saunders for something decent in return — as well as saving a couple of million in salary — the club could likely stomach that.

One potential motivator for this sudden influx of youth by the Mariners — which came earlier than many expected — that I believe has been overlooked is the reprecussions it will have in future trades next winter. Last year, GM Zduriencik was a tad irked at the lack of value his counterparts were placing on his top prospects. As we’ve written about, the new collective bargaining rules in baseball have already changed the way teams appear to be viewing and valuing prospects.

Zduriencik seemed particularly perturbed that teams were placing a disproportionate amount of value on prospects who had enjoyed a touch of big league playing time versus those who had not. So, as highly as Zduriencik valued guys like Franklin, Walker and others at the time, he did not feel opposing GMs were giving them the same respect because they’d yet to appear in the big leagues.

So, getting MLB exposure to as many prospects as possible is in Zduriencik’s best interests if he wants to trade some of them this coming off-season. And with so many guys piling up in the infield and potentially in the rotation, some will have to go.


Comments | Topics: kendrys morales; michael morse; raul ibanez; hisashi iwakuma