With the trade deadline approaching — 1 PM PT Friday — so many conversations, ideas, negotiations and offers will occur that our collective heads will spin. One piece of interesting data is the set of names being discussed the most.
For the Seattle Mariners, this means two different sets of names. Those being discussed that could net the club help in the immediate (2015, 2016) and those that may be shipped out in order for the M’s to get something for their pending free agents (Austin Jackson, Hisashi Iwakuma, et al). We’ll just call these groups ‘Buy’ and ‘Sell.’
I’m certainly not privy to the actual conversations taking place between clubs, but from what I can gather from my own digging, here’s who clubs are asking about most:
Brad Miller, SS
Chris Taylor, SS
Clubs see Miller’s improved defense and offensive potential — of which he’s shown numerous flashes this season — and acknowledge both present value and remaining upside. Taylor’s struggles at the plate in the big leagues this year haven’t changed rival clubs’ opinion of his future, but it has placed the shortstop firmly in the “for next year” bucket, rather than a player that will help enough immediately.
D.J. Peterson, 1B
Clubs still like Peterson enough to have strong interest despite his struggles at the plate in Double-A Jackson. Mostly, though, it seems teams are checking in just in case they can get the former first-round pick at 60 cents on the dollar.
Patrick Kivlehan, OF
Ketel Marte, SS/CF
Luiz Gohara, LHP
Edwin Diaz, RHP
Kivlehan is more of a second or third piece to a significant trade. He’s shown power at the plate but an inconsistent hit tool. He has taken well to the more permanent move to the outfield.
The consensus on Marte is that he has a chance to be an average regular, most likely at second base, and now potentially center field. Nobody, including Seattle, has given up on him becoming an average glove at shortstop, but it might take another year or so for that to occur and Marte’s progress at the plate more than warrants a move — either to center field or in a trade.
Gohara remains raw and inconsistent, but at least one club has brought his name up in recent talks with the Mariners.
Diaz is viewed as a likely reliever long term, due to size and the lack of a present quality third pitch, but selling at that level is a mistake. He’s still a ways away from a starting gig in the majors, but until there’s a reason to devalue him as a reliever, Seattle probably isn’t selling, and clubs probably aren’t buying.
Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP
Austin Jackson, OF
J.A. Happ, LHP
Clubs have interest in all three players — Iwakuma being the most asked about of the trio. Neither Jackson nor Happ is likely to return much, but since Happ will not be tendered the qualifying offer — which will be worth more than $15 million — and Jackson’s poor performance may increase the chances the Scott Boras client actually accepts such an offer for once, trading them is the only way to ensure getting some future value out of them. There are conflicting reports on whether or not the club can tender the same offer to Iwakuma, but $15 million for one year of a 34-year-old coming off a long stint on the disabled list for the second year in a row? If the Mariners are willing to significantly raise payroll for the second year in a row, perhaps that can work. But there are far too many areas to address, including adding high-impact rotation help.
One FO exec told me this week that Iwakuma very well could net the Mariners a return they ‘shouldn’t’ refuse just to avoid some kind of negative public relations impact.
Lowe is a value for the Mariners this week; he’s pitched like a high-leverage reliever, sitting 94-97 mph and getting swings and misses with the slider. He’s also a low-salary arm, especially compared to the likes of Joaquin Benoit and other available relievers. The Mariners should take advantage of that. They probably won’t, however, because they’re hanging onto hope for the current campaign and the bullpen needs more help, not less, if they’re to make any kind of a run.
Moving Smith and/or Trumbo isn’t going to happen, either. Not if the M’s truly are looking to try and stay with the season. Clubs do value Trumbo, primarily American League clubs that could use a 1B/DH bat. Smith could help numerous clubs, but one of those is Seattle in 2016, as the veteran is under contract. Trumbo’s contract situation, by the way, is that of a rental OR a club-controlled player. He’s arbitration eligible one more time after this season, but an acquiring club simply can non-tender him, or trade him, if they prefer not to pay him what likely will be a one-year salary at $9 million or more.
Ackley is a reclamation project on which at least a handful of clubs would like to partake, despite a climbing salary that could reach beyond $3 million in 2016.
Buy, sell or stand pat, Ackley, Happ and even Jackson could be moved this week. And Iwakuma should be, too. That is, if the Mariners are honest with themselves and look to strengthen the foundation for the immediate future (2016) rather than misdiagnosing their club or flat out pretending they’re still in it.
Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio prior to joining HERO Sports in July, 2016.
Find Jason's Mariners podcast, Baseball Things, right here and follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider.