Two potential trade targets for Mariners

Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis CardinalsAs the Seattle Mariners continue their managerial search, I’ve changed up the manner in which I’ll make trade suggestions and cite potential matches as the club turns its attention to the roster soon after the World Series. Rather than one drawn-out piece in October, I’ll discuss multiple possibilities via numerous pieces over the next several weeks. I started that Sunday by suggesting the M’s and Detroit Tigers could hook up again.

The Mariners need a lot of help — understatement of the decade, right? What they don’t need are aging players with bloated contracts — does any team need that? But in order to make significant progress, the organization may have to make some concessions in terms of how perfect everything fits together, including taking calculated risks with contracts and trading young players the team has drafted and developed.

Jack Zduriencik’s former employer has two players I feel are fits in Seattle to enough degree that a phone call should be made. Carlos Gomez, a terrific centerfielder who has exploded at the plate the past two years, and right-hander Yovani Gallardo.

It’s easy to see why Gomez fits; team-friendly contract — three years, $24 million — through 2015. He’s 29 years old in December, a right-handed batter and would be a natural fit at lead-off. He’s not going to be easy to get, assuming Milwaukee Brewers GM Doug Melvin is even willing to have the conversation, but if I were Melvin and owner Mark Attanasio, no player on my team is untouchable after the struggles the past two years.

The 28-year-old Gallardo, drafted by Zduriencik in the second round of the 2004 Draft, struggled at times in 2013, with his strikeout rate sinking to 7.17 after sitting between 8.99 and 9.89 the previous four seasons, though his FIP basically stayed the same as 2012.

Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee BrewersThe concern is with Gallardo’s health; his velocity was down a full tick for the second straight season, but his other pitches held serve for the most part, and if he’s given a clean bill of health he’s the kind of risk the Mariners should look into taking. Gallardo is due $11.25 million in 2014 and the club holds an option for 2015 at $13 million. The contract is perfect. If the M’s like what Gallardo gives them in 2013, they have the option to bring him back for another year. If he regressed or shows more signs that he’s injured — or actually suffers a significant injury — they can buy him out at $600,000.

His performance could bounce back after two non-ace seasons in a row, provided his medicals check out, and he’d fit nicely sliding into the No. 3 spot behind Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma.

I’m not suggesting the M’s go after Gomez or Gallardo, however. I’m thinking a Gomez-Gallardo package deal.

So, how do the Mariners get Gomez and Gallardo from the Brewers, who finished 74-88 this past season? And how do they do that without trading away so much that it’s counterproductive? Offer the Brewers what they don’t have, of course. What the Brewers don’t have, generally speaking, is enough young talent. The M’s have some of that.

The only young players I’d mark untouchable are Mike Zunino and Taijuan Walker. I’d be willing to move any other player in a package for Gomez and Gallardo, even if that means middle infielders Nick Franklin or Brad Miller have to be involved.

Left-hander James Paxton plus Miller or Franklin is a decent start. Shortstop prospect Chris Taylor, right-handers Tom Wilhelmsen, Carter Capps, Brandon Maurer, Yoervis Medina, Carson Smith, Dom Leone, Danny Farquhar and Erasmo Ramirez, and left-hander Charlie Furbush, as well as outfielder Michael Saunders, first baseman Justin Smoak, and infielder-outfielder Dustin Ackley could also provide value in such a trade. The only other prospect that should be protected is D.J. Peterson, who can’t be traded until February, anyway. Names such as Edwin Diaz, Victor Sanchez, both right-handed starting pitchers, could be included.

If certain other clubs wanted to make the same trade, they’d probably be able to outbid the Mariners — since Walker and Zunino aren’t likely to be discussed to any level. [Yes, it’d help if left-hander Danny Hultzen were healthy.] The Brewers’ position as a team with a non-contending roster with significant holes without a strong farm system to supplement it exponentially, could help the M’s. It might be a slight ‘bulk’ style trade, but those have worked out for clubs in the past, including when Zduriencik dealt closer J.J. Putz to the New York Mets for Jason Vargas and Franklin Gutierrez.

Trades are difficult to consummate, of course, and the Mariners would have to give up a good chunk of legit talent, so this idea has little chance, at best, of happening, but it’s the kind of idea, with the kind of players, that the Mariners need to consider, and it’s not like the Brewers are contenders that have no business talking trades that include their best players.

And no, the Mariners should not try to trade for Ryan Braun.

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Jason A. Churchill

Publisher, Executive Editor, Director of Analysis Jason founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at Inside the Park three years prior. He spent years covering prep, college and pro sports for several news outlets, both local and national, including MLB.com and ESPN Insider. He served as co-host of the afternoon drive show on 1090 The Fan CBS Sports Radio from 2013-2015. He's not done podcasting yet and now serves as managing editor at HEROSports.com.

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13 thoughts on “Two potential trade targets for Mariners

  1. Garry

    I have been wanting Gomez all offseason, and Gallardo too. But, Brewers are at a point of determining to make one last run, or fall to a complete rebuild project. I don’t see Brewers trading Gomez/Gallardo ‘yet’, but if they fall out of contention by June I say there is a great chance Brewers move Gomez/Gallardo at by the 2014 trading deadline.

    I really think this is a great potential move to watch mid-season, and be all over this trade “if” Brewers fall out quickly in 2014. THey haven’t done anything but move Aoki, so getting them to trade Gomez will be tough, but if they aren’t in contention by June/July 2014…they will need to resort to a complete rebuild process and Gomez is more valuable in trade to them at that point to attempt to get as many prospects back as possible. Trading Gomez & Gallardo by July will end up freeing up substantial salary for them (approx $20M in 2015, and whatever would be left on their 2014 contracts when traded. That’s a huge chuck of change for them in savings and gaining a number of club controlled players.

    Including Gallardo with Gomez will help the Brewers get Gallaro’s entire salary off their books without having to send cash in the deal.

  2. Dolphin Pitch

    GM Melvin has stated that he thinks his team is very close to contention for a playoff spot. The Crew went 12-6 over their last 18 games and were missing Hart and Braun for a good portion of the season. The prevailing opinion according to the articles I read is that Aoki should be moved to make room for the Brewers other young OF options.

    Maybe the M’s can snag Aoki for a couple B-/C+ prospects. He will make $1.5 mil in the last year of his contract. He walks as much as he strikes out and has an insane contact %. He would look good hitting second and playing an average-solid OF. If he could be had early in the offseason, it would free the M’s to explore more consequential trades. Melvin and Z should be able to get this done.

  3. marinercoug

    I would be intruiged by this, but ONLY if the Ms were able to sign another established starter to fill his void. Right now, they have Felix and Kuma… and a whole bunch of ?s:

    Walker- Rookie
    Paxton- Rookie
    Erasmo- Elbow issues still bothering him, I think
    Mauerer- Is he a #4 starter, or a high leverage reliever, or a middle reliever…
    Beaven- #6 starter/long reliever only. I’m fine with him filling in for a DL stint, but that’s it.

    But yes, if a team desperate for a #3 starter and were willing to part with a stud:

    Rangers: L. Martin and an arm, or even Profar..?
    Cards: Tavares/Adams
    Dodgers: Pederson and an arm
    Cubs: Soler or Baez

    I think you definitely have to think about it, IF you have a replacement ready to go in the rotation.

  4. JerryEK

    Given their position, I’d rather see the M’s focus on less established players and hidden gem types.

    Some guys who will likely be available who could be good fits:

    -Ike Davis, 1B NYM: Davis has been terrible the last two years, and streaky for his whole career. But when he’s right, he hits for power and draws a ton of walks. He can’t hit lefties at all, but would be great in a 1B/DH platoon. If the M’s picked up him and Cory Hart, they’d get good cheap production from DH and a nice backup option in case Smoak never figures things out.

    -Hank Conger, C LAA: The Angels currently have two good hitting catchers in Chris Ianetta and Conger, and they need pitching. Conger has always hit in the minor leagues, and hasn’t really gotten a chance to get consistent playing time at the big league level until last year. He did pretty well in 2013, but I think he could get better. He’s a better hitter than defensive player, but he’s passable and is only 25, so he could break out. The M’s could pick him up, let Zunino continue to work on his game in AAA. As a switch hitter, he would be a great combo with Zunino when he is ready.

    -Peter Bourjos, CF LAA: Bourjos is an elite defensive player who has hit a bit in the past (2011), but hasn’t been able to get consistent playing time. The Angels have Mike Trout in CF, plus Josh Hamilton and Mark Trumbo. Bourjos’ stock isn’t all that high, but he’s just 26 and has upside. Right now, he’s Franklin Gutierrez without injury problems. Again, the Angels need pitching, so there could be a match.

    -Dee Gordon, SS LAD: Another blocked player. The Dodgers would be smart to move Hanley Ramirez to 3B and give Gordon a shot at SS, but they haven’t been willing to do so. Gordon is a former top prospect who has great tools. I’d take a flyer on him. As is right now, he’d be a great guy off the bench. But there is a chance he’ll break out with a change of scenery.

    Finally, if we’re talking about trades, I’d seriously consider selling high on Iwakuma. He’s coming off a Cy Young caliber season, and his contract would make him a viable option for any team in baseball. If I were the M’s, I’d be looking for a similar type of trade to what the Rays did last year with James Shields. Although Iwakuma doesn’t have the long track record of success, he’s been great in his limited time in MLB, and would be a solid consolation prize for the teams that miss out on David Price.

    The Rays flipped Shields and Wade Davis (setup reliever or bad starter) for one of the best hitter prospects in the minors in Wil Myers, plus three other solid prospects. If I were the M’s, I’d see what type of hitter they could get for Iwakuma. If they could get a Wil Myers type player – someone either near MLB ready or already in the big leagues – it would help them fix their offense now and in the future. Iwakuma is a great pitcher, but if the M’s could pry away someone like Jason Heyward, Oscar Taveres, or someone of that caliber, I’d do it. The Rays had the balls to move a very good starter for a great young player, and now they have a guy who is good right now, and projects to be one of the better young outfielders in baseball going forward. The M’s should field calls on Iwakuma and pull the trigger if the right deal comes through. Then, they could invest in pitching in free agency for the rotation, where they will have less trouble attracting top players. Just a thought.

  5. JerryEK

    Plagiarize much???

  6. diderot

    Jason,
    re: Braun
    Is your reaction all PED-related, or are there baseball reasons, as well?
    In fact, do you think ANY PED abuser is acceptable to either the front office or the fan base?

  7. diderot

    Unfortunately, I agree. Can’t see them sending off Gomez without Walker coming back in return.
    If JZ gets it done without Walker, it’s a steal.

  8. Dolphin Pitch

    LOVE the Gomez idea, Jason! Melvin would be selling high on Gomez but he also has a very reasonable contract. Z would have to make a very sweet offer to get Gomez. Perhaps if the M’s agreed to take Lohse’s contract the prospect price might no be so painful?

    Might something like this pique some interest:
    Ackley/Almonte/Erasmo/Sanchez
    For
    Gomez/Lohse

    A Condor/Gomez/Choo outfield would be fun to watch!

  9. mgvernon

    Aoki would be better value for talent . They will want too much for Gomes, especially compared to Aoki. Gallardo is too risky for my taste.

    While he is no Tanaka the latest Cuban millionaire wanna-be is Odrisamer Despaigne. He has worked out for teams in Spain but plans to travel to Mexico to put on a bigger showcase for MLB clubs. Despaigne, a right-hander who pitched this season at 26 years of age, is a veteran of eight seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. He owns a lifetime 51-39 record with a 3.65 ERA but was much better in his final season, posting an ERA of just 2.58. According to a recent report from Diario De Cuba, Despaigne has yet to be cleared by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

  10. Gibbo

    I like Gomez and the tandem idea of Gallardo plus an OFer? The cost of Gomez would be high and we would only have him for 2 years. As Paul said, good back up plan.

  11. marinercoug

    I would be willing to go for a tandem from the Brewers, but, I was thinking a Gallardo/Aoki package would make more sense. The reasons being

    1) Aoki could play CF and hit leadoff better than anyone currently on the Ms roster,
    and
    2) He wouldn’t cost nearly as much as Gomez, and would therefore be easier to pry from them w/out having to bring up Walker and/or Zunino in the trade conversations.

    Plus, the cost wouldn’t be so that he would prevent the Ms from still pursuing an Ellsbury -or even Choo- if the price became right.

  12. davis09

    I like Gomez alot but don’t think the Brewers would let him go without Walker. I think that Milwaukee is a team we should call with Aoki,Gomez as interesting outfielders. I think we should also focus on Toronto who needs young .pitching and have depth in the OF.

  13. Paul Martin

    Good food for thought…I wonder how Gomez would do switching to the AL and hitting at Safeco Field? 2013 was his best offensive year of his career. Maybe he hits .250 to .260 in Seattle. An upgrade for sure, maybe a plan B if/when the team gets outbid on Ellsbury. Gallardo seems like someone they could pencil in dor 180 to 200 innings, and while his ERA spiked in 2013, Safeco field should help him with the transition to the AL.

    I like the idea, but don’t LOVE it. Good fallback plan if other options don’t work out.

What Do You Think?