How’s that for a trade deadline day, eh? Unexpected teams involved, a couple aces trading places — and some of us expected today to be boring. Anyways, the Seattle Mariners actually ended up being one of the more active teams today, and were involved in a blockbuster, though they didn’t end up with the big fish they had been linked to for the past couple months. However, one can’t say that the M’s aren’t better today than they were yesterday, and they didn’t have to mortgage the future to do it.
The M’s acquired veteran outfielder Chris Denorfia from the San Diego Padres in exchange for outfielder Abraham Almonte and right-hander Steve Kohlscheen. Denorfia, 34, owns a .242/.293/.319 slash line on the year with a single home run across 268 plate appearances. Although he has just an 85 wRC+ against left-handed pitching on the year, he owns a 128 wRC+ against them for his career as well as a .301 batting average, which should add a boost to a team that’s had some struggles against lefties on the year. Denorfia is owed about a million bucks for the rest of the year and will be a free agent this winter, which makes him a rental.
Seattle did give up their Opening Day centerfielder in the trade, but after a weak first six weeks in the big leagues Almonte has been playing at Triple-A Tacoma where he’s put together a .267/.333/.292 line. The 24-year old has some potential that could still develop, but at the moment he has the makings of a No. 4 outfielder who could draw into the lineup often given his speed and defensive abilities. Almonte will join the Padres major league club, but it’s not yet clear if he’ll see regular playing time there throughout the remainder of the season.
Kohlscheen was a 47th-round draft pick in the 2010 amateur draft and has been enjoying a decent season in the minors. In 56 and 2/3 innings spent between Double-A and Triple-A, the right-hander owns a 2.70 ERA. The 25-year old does offer some upside as a potential major league reliever, including the fact that he is 6-foot-6, but isn’t one of the M’s more interesting pitching prospects. Not to say he won’t have any value in the future, but this is the type of player a club can deal without too much fear that he’ll come back to haunt them, especially given the volatile nature of relievers.
The Tampa Bay Rays did deal staff ace David Price today, but he ends up with the Detroit Tigers while the Mariners sent infielder Nick Franklin to the Rays and acquired outfielder Austin Jackson from the Tigers in a three-team deal.
Jackson has seen most of his at bats come in the No. 1 and No. 6 spots in the lineup this year and his skill set will likely fit well at the top of the Mariners’ order in front of Cano and Kyle Seager.
Jackson, 27, has manned center field for the Tigers for the past four and a half years and has posted a .270/.330/.397 slash line in 416 plate appearances for an even 100 wRC+ so far in 2014. The former eighth-round draft choice of the New York Yankees has typically been a plus defender so far in his career — UZR gives him a 7.2 rating in nearly 6000 innings of work — but hasn’t quite played as well in the field this season. However he does give the Mariners a true center fielder and strengthens a strong defensive outfield between Dustin Ackley and eventually Michael Saunders, though Corey Hart has started the last couple games in right. Jackson is arbitration eligible for the final time in 2015 and is owed around $2 million for the remainder of this season. He also has familiarity with manager Lloyd McClendon as he was the hitting coach in Detroit before joining the M’s.
After several months of speculation Franklin finally finds himself a new home, and it’s with a team that has reportedly had interest in him for a while now. The infielder has struggled in a handful of major league plate appearances this year but has posted a .294/.392/.455 slash line at Triple-A. The 23-year old still has all the makings of an above average major leaguer, but with Robinson Cano, Brad Miller, and Chris Taylor in the middle infield picture for the foreseeable future, there was simply no room for that to happen with Seattle. And with the Rays’ excellent player development program, it’d be no surprise to see Franklin have plenty of success in the American League East. The Mariners were also linked to super utility player Ben Zobrist, but the Rays elected to hang on to him for now.
Overall, general manager Jack Zduriencik made well on his “Trader Jack” moniker today and the M’s were able to address their most glaring need: the outfield. The team is also better off heading into 2015 with Jackson set to be their everyday centerfielder, while notgiving up anything of real significance. Yes, Franklin will likely turn out to be something great, but understanding that that probably wouldn’t happen with the M’s, it’s great to see the team get very good value for him, and to see him get an opportunity to succeed.