The July 31st non-waiver trade deadline is now less than 48 hours away and several teams are still trying to determine whether they want to bolster their club for the stretch run or point their thoughts towards 2015 and beyond. Obviously the addition of a second Wild Card slot has greatly changed the dynamic in both leagues and we saw a relatively quiet final few days of July last year. This year could be different however as there are plenty of teams willing to deal and some top tier pitching talent available, but the market is barren for impact bats — something the Seattle Mariners and others are in dire need of. Let’s take a look at the latest news on the rumor front.

Jon Lester has emerged as a hot commodity as his club, the Boston Red Sox, have gone from entertaining the possibility of trading him, to marking their price for the southpaw at “two grade-A prospects” as reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today. On the weekend I argued that dealing Lester would be in the Red Sox best interest and with news that he has been scratched from his scheduled start on Wednesday, it would appear that a deal is imminent, though nothing is official. Over at FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan makes a case for the Pittsburgh Pirates to make a play for the 30-year old.

The Mariners were reported by a few different outlets as one of the clubs interested in Lester and ESPN’s Jayson Stark notes that Seattle’s front office is under a lot of pressure to improve the club in the coming days. Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune has mentioned several times on Twitter that the M’s are still a long shot to acquire the ace, however. Of course anything is possible, but if Boston is really after a pair of top prospects, they probably won’t be coming from the Pacific Northwest. The Mariners were reluctant to deal top prospect Taijuan Walker for David Price, who is controlled through the 2015 season, which makes it enormously unlikely that Walker would be dealt for a rental.

Speaking of Price, the Tampa Bay Rays are “talking and willing” to deal their ace, sources tell Jon Heyman of CBSSports.The latest rumor on that front is the St. Louis Cardinals hypothetically sending top prospect Oscar Taveras, starter Shelby Miller, and the club’s first-round competitive balance pick in 2015 to the Rays in exchange for the lefty. The Cardinals have been connected to Price several times now given the fact they have depth to deal from and could use another starter since youngster Michael Wacha isn’t expected back in the rotation until September. Again, Dutton has mentioned on Twitter that the Mariners still appear to be long shots in the Price sweepstakes.

The Rays continued their hot streak Tuesday night with a 5-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers and now sit just one game under .500 on the year. It’s been an incredible last two months of baseball for Tampa Bay and we’ve often heard that their reluctance to deal Price has to do with the club having a legitimate shot at another playoff run. The American League East is still susceptible despite the Baltimore Orioles Toronto and especially the Blue Jays playing well of night. A potential Lester deal could drastically affect the Rays’ chances of cashing in on Price this week, and could increase the chance he remains with the club that drafted him.

[pullquote]Byrd, 36, has a .273/.321/.482 triple-slash on the year alongside 20 home runs; good for a 122 wRC+. His batting average on the year is slightly higher against left-handed pitchers though he has hit more home runs against right-handed pitchers.[/pullquote]

On the offensive side of things, Marlon Byrd continues to be a name linked to the Mariners. A few days ago Prospect Insider’s Jason A. Churchill reported that the M’s might have a standing offer to the Philadelphia Phillies for their outfielder and the names of Brandon Maurer, Erasmo Ramirez, Gabriel Guerrero, and Austin Wilson are believed to be involved in discussions. Again, Seattle is reportedly one of the four teams Byrd can block a trade to and it’s believed he would want his 2016 option for $8 million to be guaranteed in exchange for waiving his no-trade clause. It’s still possible the M’s could get Byrd without the guarantee, but it appears that talks between the two clubs have cooled for the moment as the Phillies debate their next sequence of moves.

Josh Willingham is another outfielder that has been loosely connected to Seattle over the past few weeks, and according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports, the Mariners are indeed discussing the 35-year old with the Minnesota Twins. Willingham appeared on Churchill’s list of potential trade targets for the M’s a few weeks ago, and does make sense for the club. The right-hander owns a 136 wRC+ against left-handed pitching on the year and a 129 wRC+ for his career while still holding his own against righties. He has predominantly played left field over the past several seasons — where he’s been slightly under average according to UZR — but hypothetically would be able to spend some time in right or possibly even at first base depending on how the pieces fit. Willingham will be a free agent this winter and is owed around $3 million for the remainder of the season.

Seattle already hooked up with Minnesota for a trade in the past week when they re-acquired Kendrys Morales in exchange for reliever Stephen Pryor.

The Mariners managed to defeat the Cleveland Indians 5-2 on Tuesday night and are back to being four games above the .500 mark. They still sit two games behind the Blue Jays for the second Wild Card spot while the Los Angeles Angels still have a firm grasp on the other spot with a 6.5 game lead over the M’s.

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Tyler Carmont

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37 Comments

  1. Austin Jackson makes my comment look bad, and that makes me Happy!!!

  2. 4 pm eastern.

    8 minutes

  3. Jerry,

    I dont think that Rios would make it through waivers in august. While his numbers are down this year he isnt that far removed 4.8 war (2012) and last years 2.0 war seasons. He only makes 13.5 mil. next year or a 1 mil buyout so a contender might claim him just for a rental. Willingham I pass wholeheartedly he was solid a couple of years ago but is not that player now. I see a Willingham trade as a grass is greener type move with very little improvement on what god forbid Morrison or Hart provide in the OF and bat.

    As for Kemp and Lee you are right they would pass waivers simply on there contracts alone not accounting performance. Lee is under contract for 25 mil in 2015 and 27.5 mil or 12.5 mil buyout for 2016. Kemp is 21 mil for 2015 and 21.5 mil 2016-2019. So for pure number crunching here say hypothetically speaking if we were to grab both Kemp and Lee as you suggested are potential fits for M’s between Cano, Felix, Lee, and Kemp their sum payrolls for next year alone would be just shy of 95 mil for them alone. In 2016 it would be 83.5 mil if Lee’s option is bought out. If not it would be 98.5 mil in just 4 players. The M’s have not and probably will never have that kind of backing for just 4 players.

    Having said that though one of those two would be nice but I still dont get this Kemp bandwagon people keep staying on but I might be in the minority on that one. He is a player that has stated he wants to play center and he requested a trade if that isnt possible with the Dodgers. He requested a trade from the best team in the National league so he can do what he wants. I will say I dont have a clue what its like playing for the Dodgers or how it is in the clubhouse, etc but that doesnt sound like a player I want to have on this team, with his high salary, injury history, and lowish production levels currently.

    As for the trade deadline is it 4pm Eastern time or Western time, because if its Eastern time we have rougly 30 mins till its up? hehe this is fun.

  4. Thoughts on most recent rumor that Tampa Bay is trading David Price and Dodgers and Seattle are in the lead to acquire???

  5. Tic tic tic. All I’ve wanted to see was incremental upgrades. Don’t think I’ve seen that the last few years. IMHO, we’ve relied on draft picks and buy low free agents. Cano was,a big surprise but a lack of quality bats makes the signing kinda weird. This year a buy low free agent.(Young) and some timely (lucky) hitting in the first half makes us relevant. Still have almost all the same problems as last year. Besides Cano we haven’t done much. As we continue to not make incremental upgrades as our competition continues to improve we keep talking about our prospects. Tic, tic, tic.

  6. Again, roto, you fail to see the bigger picture. You only see an ending that results in a World Series title. Playoffs are nearly as important. Several teams that weren’t the best teams during the season, have won the WS. All it takes it being hot at the right time. You don’t think that being in the playoffs, prior to winning the Super Bowl, weren’t instrumental to the quest to win the Super Bowl?

  7. Word on the street: Seattle wants Rios, but Texas is closer to sending him to someone else.

  8. Well now that the A’s got Lester which makes Hammels a trade condidiate to add a bat for them. I really hope nothing over the top gets done by the M’s. That SP staff is now the best in the AL. Would be a monumental callapse if they did not make it to the series and win it. The M’s are to many bats away from having a shot at it. 2 OF, 1 1B and 1SP no way that M’s could land all that with out devastating the minor league system. Well played Oakland, well played.

  9. Make a trade for a player that can be controlled not a rental is concensus. The depth of quality prospects and quality of players on team (many holes) means we cannot afford to much. I am happy for a season worth watchin and hope for more but would like a product built to last not just this year

  10. One other thing to keep in mind:

    Two players who make a lot of sense for the M’s – Matt Kemp and Cliff Lee – will definitely clear waivers and be available after the deadline.

    Willingham and Rios are also possibilities for August trades.

    This ‘deadline’ doesn’t apply to a lot of players.

  11. I think everyone is more or less on the same page: make a deal to improve the club if it’s there, but don’t trade our better young players for rentals. There is a middle ground between ‘gut the system’ and ‘stand pat’.

    The guys I’d avoid moving are the high upside guys: Guerrero, Austin Wilson, Tyler O’Neill, and Luiz Gohara. Nick Franklin would make sense in the right deal, or guys like Sanchez, Pike, or a reliever.

    The problem: none of te hitters on the ‘rumor mill’ are that interesting. I’m not sure how much Ty Willingham, Marlon Byrd, or Alex Rios would help. I’m hoping that Jack can pull a rabbit out of his hat and pick up someone who nobody is talking about.

  12. Well the countdown to 4 pm eastern is on. Personally, it seems like a significant buyers market and I will understand if the M’s don’t make any moves because of that. But if the prices come down, I would love a good OF/1B bat. It would be fine with me if it costs us 1 of Franklin/Miller/Taylor (keep 2 of 3) and a bullpen arm. I would be ok with moving Peterson for a very good player that we have for a couple more years and Walker+ in a blockbuster that we have for a couple more years.

    While I think we should take advantage of our chance for the playoffs, I don’t want to see the M’s overspend for a player.

  13. Edman,

    That is one of your most quality posts I have read in a long time. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    It is completely ignorant to expect every Mariner prospect to ever reach Safeco Field as a Mariner. We all know as Mariner fans you aren’t going to be in the playoff hunt every year; however you are going to be able to replace prospects every year via the amateur draft and international free-agency. Moreover, I am not saying to trade valuable assets (Walker, Peterson, Paxton, Wilson, Gohara, etc) for the sake of trading them but if there is a deal on the table for a proven Major League commodity (especially a hitter) I say “pull the trigger.” This organization has made excuses for years, especially Lincoln and Jack Z, not to make a deal to get better. Honestly, how many more years can we afford to waste the best pitcher in baseball and his 25 million annual salary? Honestly I would be inclined to look at trading Walker for Joc Pederson or Oscar Tavares. This team needs to get creative and get this fanbase pumped up for the home-stretch.

  14. Roto, who said they have to go all the way, before you make any real effort. The goal is to get to the playoff. Until you get there, it doesn’t matter. Getting to the playoffs this year would be a big step for the franchise. It shows that the franchise is headed in the right direction. There is no “perfect” time. Anytime you get to the playoffs is the right time. Once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen. The team with the greatest momentum heading into the playoffs, has a good chance to win.

    I’ve seen many say to wait for the “perfect time” in the past, and IMO, it’s BS. So many things happen year to year, you take advantage of an opportunity, if it presents itself.

    That said, I doubt that Jack is going to gut his farm system. He knows how valuable it is. But, he could give up players like Carson Smith, Victor Sanchez, etc…..good B prospects, and not dramatically hurt the franchise. I don’t see Jack as even being remotely like GMs in the past. However, he will tell you that you develop your farm system not only to feed the parent club, but to have chips that you can use in trades.

    If he’s not willing to take reasonable risks, then he shouldn’t be a GM.

  15. @Edman

    Point is this team is NOT ready to go all the way. And to give up our future in this season would be insane. Hold pat and keep building from within. And after you are strong with the big club then you can afford to trade away extra talent. And we were talking organization as a whole over time. Can’t keep up take notes.

    And that bad luck is over MANY GM’s. JackZ is being smart and not over paying to keep his job he is doing what is best for the future of the club. I respect that.

  16. Roto, so a GM who had NOTHING to do with any of those traded players, should fear the dreaded “Mariners” curse? Why not go get a voodoo doll, put an A’s uniform on it, and poke it with needles?

    I’m not how accurate your assumption is, but, by the laws of chance, it’s time for luck to move back the other way.

  17. There’s practically nothing available for impact, cost-controlled bats unfortunately. From what I’ve heard those types of players — Guerrero, Taylor, etc. — are what will get you a Marlon Byrd type of player right now. Remember, teams often hold their high prices on players until the last minute, just to see if a team will get desperate enough to bite, though I’m of the opinion that not all that much will have in the next 18 hours or so.

  18. @Bus

    True forgot on that one.

  19. @Jerry

    I would love to see the M’s get Rusney Castillo I see him just below a Puig. I said get Puig when he was out there. I said get Abreu when he was out there, Get Tanaka when he was available even with him hurt now I would still say get him back then. Paying for these guys from another professional league when they are high end guys cost you money not picks, not minor league talent and when they produce have far out played there contracts. Rusney Castillo, Kenta Maede, Yoshio Itoi, Hideto Asamura or Yasmani Tomas are the next crop.

    Also we are out on Byrd from everything I have heard. Willingham makes no sense for the M’s with him an Safeco field YIKES!! I don’t see the M’s making a huge trade this season. Next year with some of the other talent coming up from the minors I could see it.

  20. Add David Ortiz to the list aka David Arias

  21. Edman@

    You need to look at the M’s record on this is what Jerry is saying. The m’s have had a nack for trading young guys who blossom away from Seattle. I would venture to say more than any other team. List as follows.

    D. Tartabull
    J. Varitek
    Choo
    A. Cabrera
    A. Jones
    I. Calderon
    J. Cruz
    S. Estes
    R. Soriano
    M. Hampton
    C. Tillman
    D. Lowe

    And that is just off the top of my head.

  22. Jerry, you’re exaggerating when you say:

    I hate the idea of trading guys like Guerrero, Wilson, or even Peterson, especially if it doesn’t net us an impact, cost-controlled bat. Those guys too often turn into Asdrubal Cabrera or Shin-Soo Choo.

    That’s simply not true. Go back and look at how many “top prospect” sent out in trades, fail. Yes, it’s unfortunate that Choo and Cabrera now haunt the Mariners. But, historically, many traded prospects never reach their expected returns. Prospects in general, are more destine to be an average major league player, at best. There have been some great prospect trades, but many fail. It’s a lottery ticket. And, everyone likes to remember the guy in the line in front of them, who won $50 on a scratch ticket, thinking they’ll be the next. Many more at the back of the line, may not even win enough to pay for their ticket.

    You have to give to get. I’m sure Jack would love to know exactly how they’ll turn out, but it’s still a bit of a guessing game. And, on the other hand, Seattle had a chance in 2001 to trade their equivalent to Ty Walker, in Anderson, and was afraid to take the risk.

    I’m not opposing your concerns, but at the same time, if you’re not willing to take risks, you accept mediocrity.

  23. Agreed pretty much on all of it Jerry. I would really like to see us make a serious push for Castillo. At least he is coming to Seattle on Sunday for a private workout. I have seen some scouts say they think he can be playing in the majors this September if he signs soon. Its gonna be a major league deal and I think 5yrs/$40M or so could get it done.

  24. I really hope we don’t gut the system for one of the big name starters. That makes zero sense given this clubs situation.

    Josh Willingham’s recent struggles should make him very cheap. Pick him up for something inconsequential, then give Rusney Castillo 5/45 million and hope he impresses enough to join the team late in the season.

    If the M’s really come together – which would require some combo of continuing great pitching, Ackley keeping up his tear through August, a good Kendry Morales, Michael Saunders getting back healthy, and some hitting from Miller/Taylor and Zunino – then talk to the Phillies about Cliff Lee or the Dodgers about Matt Kemp in August. Those two aren’t subject to the trade deadline.

    I hate the idea of trading guys like Guerrero, Wilson, or even Peterson, especially if it doesn’t net us an impact, cost-controlled bat. Those guys too often turn into Asdrubal Cabrera or Shin-Soo Choo.

  25. I think we are likely in on Rios but doubt Jack can put together a deal. I think we are likely to get a RH outfielder to platoon before we get anything of substance. In the end, that might be the best approach anyway. I am kind of in the camp that unless you can get a legit difference maker ther is no need to trade your main group of prospects. I think we have the pieces to make significant moves in the offseason and don’t believe that its worth chasing a one game road play in game to sacrifice top tier prospects this year. I do think that with the right moves, we can make a legit run in 2015. Not that I wouldn’t like to see a role guy or two added in hopes of getting that play in game as long as its peripheral types traded.

  26. Jayson Stark of ESPN is reporting we are out on Byrd. Yankees still interested in him though…rumor was it we are out on Lester (Boston is going to get a premium prospect for the 2 month rental, maybe from Baltimore). David Price also appears to be staying put. Maybe Rios is still a possibility?

  27. Edman, you don’t know anymore than I do, what Paul considers an A level prospect. For me, we really only have four A level guys in the minors right now. Those guys would be Walker, Paxton, Peterson, and Jackson. The next tier would be guys like Ramirez, Marlette, Guerrero, Marte, Kivlehan, Wilson, Diaz, Sanchez, and Gohara (off the top of my head). I would require the Phillies to pitch in $6M on the deal if they want a guy of the 2nd tier as there is no way I’d trade any of the big three prospects for him (Jackson shouldn’t be moved either and couldn’t be anything but a PTBNL until next years draft). Maybe you give them a 2nd guy that is below the 2nd tier as well. The issue isn’t next years contract. The issue is that Byrd wants his 2016 vesting option picked up which makes it 2yrs/$16M owed still (Phillies have agreed to pay rest of his deal this year).

  28. Paul, you expect Philly to pay half of Byrds salary next year, and feel that you’re rewarding them by giving up a B level prospect? You give up a B level prospect, if you pay all of his salary. If Philly kicks in money, they’ll want much more than that.

  29. I know it’s not a hitter but why not see if you can work a deal for Lackey built around Erasmo Ramirez and a 2nd tier prospect or two. Lackey isn’t elite, and pitching isn’t our #1 priority, but you’d have Lackey for next year at $500k which gives you good flexibility. Sox are said to want a major league ready starter so Ramirez should fit the bill. Obviously needs to make sense in prospects but otherwise I don’t see why not do a deal like this.

  30. Seriously? God forbid we trade one of Maurer (bullpen arm), Gabby Guerrero (Single A outfielder several years away if he ever makes it), Ramirez (AAA arm that is buried behind better arms), or Austin Wilson (Single A outfielder with holes that is several years away if he ever makes it). Don’t worry about filling a major hole in the lineup with a guy that can play good defense and is a legitimate major league outfielder. Just continue to run Hart/Romero/Chavez out there because the guy is 37yrs old. Where does that make sense at all? Even if Saunders is back in 2 weeks he very well may be forced into center with Jones struggling mightly with the offspeed stuff right now.

    The problem is that we overvalue prospects as fans even though a large majority never end up what they were expected to be. It’s not like they are talking Walker, Paxton, or Peterson for Byrd…good lord!

  31. If the M’s give up ANY of Maurer, Ramirez, Guerrero, or Austin Wilson for 36 YEAR-OLD MARLON BIRD, FOR GOODNESS SAKE, they are NUTS. Ackley is on his second-half tear, Saunders is about ready to return, and Alex Rios is still out there and available.

    Now, if the M’s want to give up Walker, Guerrero, Austin Wilson, Nick Franklin, AND Dominic Leone to get Giancarlo Stanton, well…………

  32. One rumor says Texas is willing to eat some of Rios salary, if true he becomes more desirable. Regarding Byrd, if Philly will eat half his salary for next year, then I would try to trade a B prospect for him. I will be glad when the deadline comes and goes. We need another bat (or two) but don’t need to do something desperate/stupid.

  33. People need to not get too wrapped up in the rumor mill. Much of it is done with the expectation that the Mariners are buyers, and thus, they’re going to be linked to nearly every available player. Because Jack asks about a player’s availability, doesn’t mean they have a strong interest. These are national beat writers trying to out-scoop each other. I get a little tired of the “an inside source says” crap. Jack plays it very close to the vest. It’s tough to get information out of his group.

    I don’t think there is much to the Lester rumors. Price makes more sense, particularly if you’re talking about a playoff rotation of Felix – Iwakuma – Price, and the extra year of control. If Seattle is out of the running, they could move Price at next year’s deadline.

    To take on Byrd’s salary, it shouldn’t require any “A” prospect. He’s overpayed for next season. He’s having a great season, but he doesn’t have a string of them, especially in regard to his homeruns.

    I do think if the can get Denorfia at a reasonable cost, he’s a good buy-low player with good defensive skills. A definite step up from Steffan Romero.

    We’ll find out soon enough. Clock is under 48 hours now.

  34. I really hope they don’t trade any of Guerrero, Wilson, Peterson, or O’Neill for those guys. The Ms shouldn’t be paying premium prices for rentals. In the case of Byrd, his contract isn’t exactly good, especially if we hae to exted him. Those aforementioned guys have a lot of upside.

    I find the Lester thing particularly curious. The Ms would be paying a premium price for half a season, and wouldn’t even get a draft pick back if he leaves. And Lester is going to command a substantial contract as a free agent. He sorta makes sense for teams that are in control of their divisions. Let those teams pick him up, then try to sign him next offseason if they really love him.

  35. Bravo Tim, well informed post. For a moment, I thought you were just complaining to complain.

  36. Last time I checked it was Lester who had a World Series ring on his finger. 😉

  37. So basically they are looking at adding losers? Solid.

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