We all love the trade deadline. We all loves trades. They bring a different level of excitement to an otherwise long, drawn-out season. No team is immune to the trade deadline. Bad teams, great teams, those in the middle, they’re all part of the trade buzz and that starts about now for all of the aforementioned.

Tuesday, Julie DiCaro of 670 The Score in Chicago reported via Twitter the Mariners have been scouting the Chicago Cubs “at all levels.”

DiCaro added, via Twitter reply, whom the Cubs are apparently looking at on the Seattle roster:

The Mariners bats with power include Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager, Adam Lind, Franklin Gutierrez, Leonys Martin, Seth Smith and Dae-Ho Lee. Let’s scratch Lind and Lee from the discussion, since they’re 1B/DH types only and the Cubs have one of the best first basemen in the game. And since the National League doesn’t offer the designated hitter, let’s scratch Cruz, too; he’s a bad outfielder and the Cubs’ front office and field staff greatly value defense.

This leaves platoon bats such as Smith and Gutierrez and full-time centerfielder Martin. The Cubs have Dexter Fowler in center and while moving him to left field and inserting Martin in center makes the Cubs better, it’s unclear what Seattle could get out of moving Martin, who is under club control for two more seasons.

The same goes for Seager. It’s late June and the Mariners have to plan for buying and selling both but if they’re making significant moves right now, the result has to be somewhat lateral at worst; get younger and gain control years while maintaining the overall talent level can be done. Or perhaps a deal now helps GM Jerry Dipoto make a bigger splash in a few weeks where the overall net gain is greater.

Seager does make sense for the Cubs, too. Such a move pushes Bryant to left field regularly, where he’s an upgrade over Jorge Soler’s .223/.322/.377 triple-slash. What the Mariners could get back to make it worth their while is unclear.

Again, at this stage, dealing Seager for prospects is a sell job. The 38-38 Mariners have no business pulling the plug on their season right now, despite the intrigue of the Cubs’ farm system. Yes, Kyle Schwarber could be the starting first baseman next year. Yes, shortstop Gleyber Torres is a very good prospect and highly valuable. Neither does the Mariners any good on June 28, or anytime this season — unless they’re traded again.

Mariners fans shouldn’t worry too much about Seager being the bait here. Dipoto can read just like we can. Seager is 28 years old and along with Martin the youngest member of the core of the club. Cano is 33, Cruz 36, Smith 33, Gutierrez 33 and catcher Chris Iannetta 33. If the Mariners move Seager, it’s sensible to do so in a selling situation or over the offseason as part of a larger overhaul. The Mariners shouldn’t be looking to get older and they shouldn’t be looking to move their best prime core player for prospects, at least for another month.

Cano doesn’t make sense for the Cubs, either, since Ben Zobrist is a better defender and has performed very well at the plate — and Cano’s contract is, well, large. Smith doesn’t seem to fit all that well considering his defense is below average and the Cubs have Chris Coghlan filling such a role. Gutierrez might be of interest to the Cubs as a platoon partner for Coghlan, a left-handed batter, but Coghlan hasn’t hit enough in 2016 to suggest he should be playing four days a week. It seems Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would be after an everyday player.

So what in the world could the two sides be talking about in late June? It’s not inconceivable the conversations may have or will include any or all of the above. The best bet, in my opinion, is something a lot less flashy:

DiCaro also tweeted Tuesday the Cubs have been in talks with four American League clubs and have interest in Minnesota Twins reliever Fernando Abad, a right-hander.

The Mariners have right-handed relievers.

Fans may wonder why the Mariners would trade away quality relievers and the potential answers to that question include:

1. They wouldn’t.

2. They wouldn’t unless it’s part of a bigger package that nets them a starting pitcher that can help right away.

3. They wouldn’t at this point in the season and the non-routine scouting of the Cubs’ organization is actually closer to routine than not and in preparation for something later this summer.

You can bet the farm the Cubs aren’t the only system the Mariners are scouting more heavily than normal right now. It’s a club that could be in contention next month and looking to add, but it’s also one that could find themselves in position to sell, too.

It’s how middling clubs get better and set themselves up for more sustainable success. In a sell situation, we should hear about the Mariners shopping Cruz, Smith, Gutierrez, Iwakuma, Nick Vincent, Joaquin Benoit, Vidal Nuno, Steve Cishek, Martin, Iannetta, Lind… pretty much everybody. Felix Hernandez is off the table. See what the market may bare.

The Cubs’ greatest area of need is the bullpen. The club currently is carrying a 3.98 FIP and the eighth worst BB/( of any relief corps in baseball. Cishek, who is signed through next season, might be an interesting piece for the juggernaut Cubs. They may also see Nuno or Mike Montgomery as a significant upgrade to lefty Clayton Richard and even Travis Wood.

Seager, though, is among the few topics you make the other clubs broach.

If I had to wager, I’d bet the two sides don’t make a single trade of great substance with one another unless and until Seattle decides to sell.

If they decide to sell. If they get healthy and add a piece or two of their own to the pitching mix, the Mariners may find themselves in the thick of their own race to the postseason. At which point most or all of the above names will be off the table for prospect returns.

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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.

5 Comments

  1. In fairness, the Marlins were asking for Corey Seager, Julio Urias, and Joc Pederson. Also, the Marlins were talking Fernandez and a flyer, back when Fernande was essentially a prospect himself with less than a season behind him. That’s like a NBA team trading the third pick in the draft for the forth, fifth, and sixth. As for the Phillies, they were shopping a pitcher who recently was on the shelf, while being over 30 and coating in excess of $20MM a year for 3.5 years plus an option, where 60% of the contract would be going to someone in his decline. Walker would come with 4+ years of control and would be packaged with other assets like Marte that would enhance the benefit for the Dodgers, not remove it. As for Puig he’s hitting like an ML-average SS while making $9MM, does he have no value, of course not , but probably equal value to Miley who is also struggling. They just compliment each other as the Dodgers have extra OF and limited pitching. Also Miley can swing it, which makes him primed to move back to the NL.

  2. I don’t see the Ms trading Seager right now, as they don’t have any viable 3B alternatives in the farm system. Who would replace him?

    Unless…..there is another 3Bob that could be had -> Cuban star Yulieski Gourriel. He’s a free agent, ML ready, and one of the best hitters to ever leave Cuba.

    But that’s a pipe dream. The Cubs already have a pretty good 3Bman. More likely this is about something else.

  3. The Dodgers wouldn’t move Seager in talks for Hamels, Fernandez — I just can’t see how Kyle and Walker get that done and bring back Puig. Everyone forgets that LA has Justin Turner who’s a pretty darn good third baseman.

    To add, dealing Walker and Miley leaves the rotation where? A hurt Felix, Iwakuma, Paxton, Karns… I can see where your proposal is coming from, and I’m sure that there are reasonable justifications on both ends. But the cost to even get LA to think about dealing Seager is so astronomically huge that it’d simply be counterproductive for the M’s. He’s a top-5 shortstop. As a rookie. You don’t deal that.

  4. Personally, I’d like to see a Seager trade which brings back his brother Corey. Something like Taijuan, Marte, Cishek, and Seth Smith to the Dodgers for Seager (younger), Puig (reclamation), and Wood (Alex from the disabled list). I think that’s pretty balanced. It would add payroll for the Dodgers, but they would get the immediate help they need to protect Urias from overuse. The money difference at this point of the season would be about $5-7MM. If they needed a little extra, throw in Miley, which also helps offload a little salary, even though his trade value is down, his ability to eat innings would benefit them.

    Obviously it would take a couple starts from both Walker and Miley to prove they are healthy. Puig would become the everyday RF and Edgar’s full-time job. Cruz moves to LF and gets the lion share of the platoon, while Gutierrez plays predominately against LHP. Which then makes Lind the DH against RHP and Lee the full-time 1B. Martin has proved he can play everyday now that he’s hitting LHP. Which means Puig could move to CF occasionally to spell Martin when he needs a breather and both Guti and Cruz would man the outfield corners.

    Is it a perfect fix? No, but allows the Mariners to benefit from their one surplus, starting pitching once Felix is back and healthy. The King, Iwakuma, Paxton, a rejuvenated Karns, and either Zach Lee, Nuno, or a healthy Alex Wood could fill out the back of the rotation. Realistically there would have to be another trade simultaneously or in short order to help build back the rotation. Like a Teheran/Vizcaino trade built around Diaz, Zunino, D.J. Peterson, and local boy Nick Neidert. If they needed an extra carrot, we could offer them upside in terms of Alex Jackson and a low level SS like Andrade or another reliever like Pagan.

  5. Can’t see the Mariners trading Seager with 5 years left and no 3B to replace him. Unless the return is Baez, Schwarber, plus another guy or two. Some make think that’s a big return, which it is, but keep in mind the track record Seager has and that he’s under control for a while, then add into the equation that he’s about to enter his peak years.

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