Most asked about Mariners

 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:

Buy
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.

Others: Brayan Hernandez, OF; Taijuan Walker, RHP; Carson Smith, RHP; Mike Zunino, C; Jesus Montero, 1B.

Sell
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.

 Mark Lowe, RHP
Seth Smith, OF
Mark Trumbo, OF
Dustin Ackley, OF

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.

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Jason A. Churchill

Churchill founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at InsidethePark.com. He spent several years covering prep, college and pro sports for various newspapers, including The News Tribune and Seattle PI. 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.

16 Comments

  1. Edman,

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the M’s already are a disaster. Zero playoff appearances and two seasons above .500 in the seven years under the current regime.

    But you’re right, we should continue to support every idiotic thing this team does, and expect a different result from the same flawed process.

    What I’m suggesting isn’t radical. The Red Sox, A’s, Cubs, Astros, and several other teams have adopted the same approach. If you aren’t a contender, focus on the future!

  2. Jerry, all I have to say is that I’m damn glad you aren’t running the ballclub. You’d be a disaster. You think wins don’t matter, and seem to be content with always developing. Trade Cruz? That’s damn stupid, unless you get an absolutely unrealistic return.

    It’s easy to think that your approach is right, because there is no possibility to prove it isn’t.

  3. Luke,

    Its about depth and upside. Add a handful of guys with untapped talent, give them playing time in a situation where wins aren’t crucial, and hope one or more pan out. It’s not about upgrades now, but going forward. If it doesn’t work, you’ve lost very little. It’s a low risk, high reward option during a season that’s already over.

    If they can get better options, great. But that will most likely be too costly. Especially midseason. The M’s would be smart to take flyers on some guys, see what happens, then reasses their needs in the offseason when you aren’t paying a trade deadline premium.

    What’s the alternative? Do nothing?

    If I were running the club, I’d shop Cruz. His value is maxed out right now. I bet some team would overpay for him. But I think that’s very unlikely to happen. The Ms are stuck in a short-term mindset.

  4. Marte is NOT the answer in CF going into next year. He’s played THREE games in CF in his professional career. He has a long way to go before he’s major league ready. Adam Jones – drafted as a SS – played 179 minor league games in CF before sticking in the majors. Alvarez has a career .234/.306/.435 slash, while Logan Morrison is at .246/.327/.415. Plus, Pittsburgh has been rumored to be looking for a better option than Alvarez because he’s a defensive liability. Sanchez has yet to win the starting job – let alone a permanent spot on the 25-man roster. How would adding these players and Bradley be an upgrade?

  5. Luke,

    I don’t think Jackson will return. The reason why I brought him up is that Bradley would be a candidate to replace him, either this year (why not trade him….he’s not going to get us a draft pick) or next. In terms of trade matches, who knows? I have no clue what the Red Sox might be after, although the rumored deal for Charlie Furbush during the offseason gives you an indication of what it might take.

    I’m not so much focused on Bradley in particular, but more that ‘type’ of player: ex prospect with talent who is a buy-low candidate. As you pointed out, he very likely won’t ever reach his potential. But the M’s suck, which gives them the luxury of giving a guy like that an extended audition. Maybe Marte is the answer, but its always better two have two potential candidates than one. Having both improves your odds, and if they both pan out, that’s a great problem to have.

    Most of the M’s tradeable talent isn’t going to bring back elite prospects or young established ML players. Instead, they should focus on guys whose current value is down a bit. Lots of guys take a few years to pan out. Look at the Royals core. Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas were all top prospects who took a few years to figure it out. Lorenzo Cain also fits that bill. For us, those guys were Franklin Gutierrez and John Jaso.

    I don’t think Bradley is anything like a sure thing player. But we should be loading up on that TYPE of player. The Pirates are supposedly looking to deal Pedro Alvarez. I’d like to see the M’s pick him up. He probably won’t pan out, but who cares? Why not give it a shot. The Pirates also have C Tony Sanchez in AAA. Again, the most likely outcome is that these guys continue to fail. But if one doesn’t, the M’s end up with a good player. They need more of those.

    To do that they have to embrace the fact that this season is over, though. Unfortunately, Jack et al have a vested interest in not doing that.

  6. Marte won’t be ready to play CF at the start of next season. Struggled on 2 balls hit at him on Saturday nights night, has 3 games in CF, and has played SS last 3 games. There’s no guarantee that his bat will ready either. He’s only 21, no need to rush him like Ackley, like Zunino, like Milller….

  7. sorry for the typos. Wow

  8. About Jackson and Bradley, yes Jackson is most likely leaving this year, but Bradley isn’t the answer for next year, we have a guy down in AAA who is learning CF who shown to be a better hitter the Bradley, at every level, sans MLB. Plus JZ isn’t going to punt this season, he’s just not, to put it in poker terms: he’s going to pray to the heavens his two outer comes on the river. I think Marte will make a fine CF and will be the type of CF we have been missing for years, a guy who gets on base and steals.

    Also, I have this feeling JZ is currently doing everything in his power to get Cargo. Not that Colorado stated they want to trade him this year, I have a feeling JZ is going to overpay for him, I could see a deal for Cargo where the M’s send out Miller, Ackley and Diaz.

    You have to think in terms of a GM on the hot seat, the only way it cools is if he makes the playoffs and I think he’s going to make trades that try to help the M’s do that in his mind, even though the correct play would be trading Kuma, Jackson, Happ and relievers if he can get a good offer.

  9. Jerry, what does Bradley have to do with Jackson, who is a free agent at the end of the year? Are you expecting him to return. If yes, why do you believe that? As far as Bradley, who would you deal to get a career .193 hitter who MAY be good or just a defensive backup by your estimation?

  10. Jason,

    Yeah, Bradley hasn’t been good at the ML level. But that’s why he’s potentially available. The M’s suck. Why not take a flyer on a guy who could be our starting CFer for the next 5-6 years? Even if he doesn’t hit, he’d be a nice guy to have on the bench and a huge defensive upgrade over Jackson. He’s far better than any of the CFers on our roster that will be with the club next year. And he has upside. Again, why not?

    Edman:

    Jack’s job status for 2016 and beyond will very likely be tied to the team’s record this year. A solid second half won’t get us into the playoffs, but it could save this current regime. That is why I hope they flop. 75-80 wins won’t do anything but keep the status quo intact and keep us from a protected draft pick. The best possible outcome of this terrible season would be a change in the front office. I hope that happens, even if it means that 2015 will be another losing year.

    Jack should be retooling this club, but he won’t out of self interest. I’m betting he doesn’t do much, and tries to keep this club together to save his job. If that’s the case, we might expect to see some small acquisitions to improve the 2015 club, probably a backup catcher and perhaps a bullpen arm. I doubt that higher-ups would let him make a major acquisition, given his status. He SHOULD be moving guys that Jason has put into the SELL bin above. That’s what any rational team in this position – like the A’s right now – would do. But I bet he won’t, because he’s a terrible GM and is acting out of self interest. Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong. But the next few days will clarify this issue.

    Finally, regarding Trumbo, how do you figure that “he’s getting hot.”????? He’s hitting .250/.308/.389 in the second half. On what planet is that “hot?” Only an M’s fan would think that is an encouraging sign. He’s a shitty baseball player, and a TERRIBLE fit for Safeco. Getting him was a MASSIVE mistake. Montero would probably be an upgrade over that right now. Most importantly, Montero might be a part of the future for the M’s. They would be dumb not to take advantage of the situation they are in – losing – and give him a shot. Again, why not? What do they have to lose? A shot to MAYBE get to .500?

  11. Agreed, Jason. One of the big reasons I was opposed to trading Zunino, other than him not yet reaching his potential, is the number of year of control that would be lost. Same goes for Paxton.

  12. No regard to contract status, eh, guys?

  13. Why do people think Jackie Bradley, Jr is good? He MIGHT be good someday.

  14. It’s really amazing what some people think. You really think that Jack’s job wouldn’t be in jeopardy, if he stands pat? All his moves are evaluated. It’s his job to take calculated risks. I don’t think they’ll trade Trumbo, especially now that he’s getting hot. Exactly what more production do you think Montero will bring to the plate. Why not wait a month, and call him up?

    Where exactly are the Jackie Bradley comments coming from? You think Boston is going to throw in the towel on his potential, because of this season? When he becomes their Dustin Ackley, maybe, but he’s not there.

    rth, trading both Zunino and Paxton for a slumping Jonathon Lucroy makes sense, really? I’m not sure why you would make that deal, but I sure wouldn’t. If he was having a good season, maybe. But he’s not, and if you think trading Zunino AND Paxton in the hope that he becomes productive again, it like paying $5 for two $2 scratch tickets, because you feel lucky.
    I have no problem upgrading a few areas, but I don’t expect them to do anything to do anything too dramatic, because they are enjoying an attendance surge. The last think they want to do is appear to be throwing in the towel. I expect they will make a few moves, but if they trade Iwakuma, it’s going to have to be more than maximizing their return. I would think that Jack wouldn’t want to trade him unless the return outweighs the possibility to extend him for a couple of years. Their starting pitching depth at AAA is somewhat thin.

  15. I’d love to see the M”s at least make some minor moves.

    Moving Jackson and bring in Jackie Bradley Jr. would be awesome.

    And moving Trumbo and promoting Montero would be very smart. Both don’t really fit on the same roster, but Montero has upside.

    Bringing in an acceptable catcher would be smart as well. Doesn’t need to be someone good. Just a capable backup.

    But If I was going to bet, I’d put money on no moves. I think they are too afraid to do anything. They can’t buy, because that would be idiotic and impossible to justify. But they are too afraid to pull the plug and lose their jobs. I see a very boring trade deadline for M’s fans.

  16. Some targets I think the Mariners should be having discussions about:

    Catchers:
    Jonathan Lucroy (wonder if a deal centered around Zunino and Paxton would get it done, I’d do that)
    Alex Avila
    Ryan Hanigan
    Christian Vazquez

    Center fielders:
    Jackie Bradley
    Aaron Hicks
    Ben Revere
    Jon Jay
    Ender Inciarte

    I’d dangle Happ, Ackley, Trumbo, Lowe and Morrison especially. I’d trade Jackson and Iwakuma only for pieces that could be starters in 2016 (i.e. most of those on the list above), but would prefer to re-sign both.

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