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austin jacksonHow’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.

[pullquote]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.[/pullquote]

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.

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    Well that all worked out better than I feared, good for GMZ. Jackson was a good get, Donorfia not so much but then he didn’t cost much either. Jack got us some help, which is better than no help and he didn’t mortgage our future to do it. These guys aren’t All-Stars but they are closer to it than the guys they will replace. I still think the team would be better off with a new next generation GM during the coming off-season but would not hold these moves to be reasons for it. If they help improve our poor offensive performance, with our pitching we can still stay in the post-season hunt. If the M’s come even close to qualifying I would understand GMZ being retained.

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    Absolutely a fantastic deal for the M’s. Just fantastic. Jackson is a UNREAL return for Franklin. I would have never guessed that Franklin would net a player of Jackson’s caliber. I think Dombrowski was so desperate and adamant on obtaining Price that he gave into what Trader Jack wanted, a starting, good, mlb CF. It was clear the Rays wanted Franklin for a long time now.

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    …agree with all the comments. I am excited to see this team on the field. Ackley (if he stays hot), Seager, Cano, Morales, Jackson, Taylor/Miller, Hart/Morrison, Saunders (once healthy), and Zunino is actually getting to be a good lineup. Felix, Iwakuma, Young, Elias, and Paxton/Walker is a good rotation and our bullpen has been great.

    Plus, and I am not counting on this, but there is still the August deadline for players that pass through waivers. 1B still looks like a bit of a hole.

    Then, we can role out close to the same team in 2015, hopefully solving 1B over the winter.

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    The thing so many fans lose sight of is that the M’s are only in realistic contention for the last wildcard spot, a single play-in game for the play-offs. This is a far different scenario than Billy Beane and the A’s have found themselves in with a legitimate shot to win the ALWest and compete for it all.

    Accordingly, Jack Zduriencik has (successfully) taken a very rational approach to this trade deadline by NOT mortgaging long-term control and long-term upside (Walker, Paxton, Taylor or Miller, Elias, Peterson, etc) for a major short-term rental. Jack has taken his share of abuse from the likes of GEOFF Baker and GM’s who won’t go on the record for being frustrated at not being able to fleece him this off-season, but the results speak volumes.

    Let’s see. Who wouldn’t trade Stephen Pryor, Abe Almonte (and a reliever no one has heard of), as well as Nick Franklin FOR Kendrys Morales/ Chris Denforia/ Austin Jackson. Three bonafide major leaguers upgrading the most obvious holes in the M’s line-up for a rehabbing reliever, a centerfielder who has AAAA written all over him and a blocked second baseman with upside, but who is still struggling to make it in the show.

    Great work this trade deadline by JackZ. There is enough here to give us fans legitimate hope in catching the Blue Jays for the 2nd wild card crap shoot.

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    The M’s got a good CF with experience, and a good veteran role player in Denorfia. Both players strengthen the roster. And once Morales starts hitting some more, I think he will also prove to have been a good get. Except for Franklin, all the trade chips we talk about so often are still here. None of the players on the big-league roster who have been instrumental in getting the team where it is this season were traded. What they have done this past week should be enough to keep them in the race for that last wild card spot, which is really what they’re playing for this year… and if they get it? Who knows what could happen!

    I think this sets the team up nicely for Hot Stove Time, and for a fun 2015. Who knows, maybe they don’t need to trade big for a 1B… maybe next year it will be Peterson? Well, maybe not, but the team is starting to look lots better this year, isn’t it? It took Z six years instead of five to get the team to contention, but now we’re here. I think we’re seeing the Mariners at a turning point… instead of sellers, maybe being buyers more often… fans should start coming back to the ballpark… more free agents may decide Seattle isn’t a bad place to be… the point at which the Mariners turn the corner from being perennially awful to being a better team that competes for the playoffs more often than not. That may seem too rosy an outlook for some, but make a few more good moves, and the sky should be the limit.

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    Jackson would also qualify for a potential tender and provide Mariners with a draft pick, most likely replacin what we lost in Franklin.

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    Jackson is a great get, one no one was talking about. I would much rather have him than Rios (who would cost 13.5 million next year). Tampa Bay didn’t get much for Price, kind of a shocker. Their willingness to deal him for less than he “wow me” package they were insisting on tells me they probably COULD NOT AFORD HIM NEXT YEAR and had to deal. He will likely make 20 million next year…I agree that Jack has earned an extension. He was in a tough spot and really came through!

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    I agree, getting Jackson for Franklin is great value. Listening to Jack Z talk post-deadline he was very adamant that he wasn’t going to get fleeced in a trade for a big name guy and simply wanted to improve his club. He’ll get an extension at the end of the year, barring something unforeseen, so it’ll be interesting to see what he can do with hopefully some extra payroll by then.

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    GREAT TRADES! One not flashy in Denorfia, but a solid add. A. Jackson for N. Franklin is as best a deal as any GM could ever get. JackZ has made upgrades without costing the M’s future. That is what I wanted as a fan from the get go. For a GM with his job on the line JackZ has done a great job. Most would have traded the farm gutted the system and left the M’s worse off than when they took over. JackZ has done great by the M’s and as a result has all my respect. I say give JackZ a 3 year extension let him finish out what he is doing if it falters then let him go. If he succeeds which I very well can see him doing then he deserves more years after that. I am a very happy M’s fan right now. Also Jackson is signed through next year and can net you via trade better than what the M’s gave up if he is needed to be traded next year.

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