DF24Amidst all the rumors circulating from the General Managers’ meetings in Florida, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal dropped an interesting nugget in his notes column late Wednesday night. As the Kansas City Royals are considering making an attempt to bring back Carlos Beltran, Rosenthal speculates if such a move were made, that would open up the possibility of trading Billy Butler.

Of course, as has been the case and will be throughout the winter, the Seattle Mariners conveniently pop up as one of the teams rumored to be very interested in trading for Butler, as they were a year ago. But that wasn’t the rumor that caught my attention from that particular piece. After suggesting the M’s as a trade partner, Rosenthal subtly notes Seattle actually tried to trade for Rookie of the Year Wil Myers last offseason, before Royals’ GM Dayton Moore went in another direction and opted for the Tampa Bay Rays proposal centered on right-hander James Shields.

What were the Mariners offering, you ask? Rosenthal reports they were focusing on a one-for-one deal, where Seattle would ship one of Taijuan Walker, James Paxton or Danny Hultzen to Kansas City for Myers.

But alas, that is in the rearview mirror. However, there is no reason why a similar trade couldn’t occur this winter. For the purposes of this exercise, let’s assume Seattle isn’t going to trade Walker unless it’s for Giancarlo Stanton or someone along those lines. And Danny Hultzen’s injury prevents him from going anywhere anytime soon. So, following a strong September showing, perhaps other teams would be interested in acquiring James Paxton and value him enough to ship off something the Mariners need?

Trade Proposal No. 1: Seattle trades LHP James Paxton and 2B/SS Nick Franklin to Kansas City for 1B/DH Billy Butler

This deal would be predicated on the Royals acquiring a hitter via free agency, such as Beltran. Even then, who knows if Moore would be interested in moving Butler for two unproven talents. Perhaps they would insist on Walker, which is too much with which to part, at least from my point of view. But this type of move could make sense for both clubs if the right mix of players is involved.

Seattle would be acquiring a right-handed hitter not solely reliant on the long ball, adding balance to a lefty-heavy group from a year ago. Butler is a career .300 hitter, can hit both lefties and righties, and is arguably just entering the prime of his career at age 27. Instead of having to mix and match at designated hitter, they would be able to plug Butler in everyday as they did Morales in 2013. Butler is durable too, having missed only 11 games the past five seasons.

Kansas City would unquestionably have a tough time letting go of one of their cornerstone players the past five seasons, but acquiring a young starter in James Paxton should be enticing. I’m no expert, but with Ervin Santana unlikely to return, the Royals shouldn’t place all their eggs in the basket of Jeremy Guthrie, Luis Mendoza and possibly Bruce Chen, if he re-signs. Paxton is a bit of a wild card, but he has the potential to be a solid No. 3 starter. With the addition of Nick Franklin to the deal, the Royals can stop playing roulette at second base with the likes of Chris Getz and Emilio Bonifacio, and actually build on the middle infield of Alcides Escobar and Franklin.

Butler is signed through 2014 at $8 million, with a club option for 2015 at $12.5 million or a buyout between $1-2 million.

Trade Proposal No. 2: Seattle trades LHP James Paxton to Colorado for CF Dexter Fowler

The possibility of the Mariners acquiring Dexter Fowler has been circulating throughout the rumor mill lately, including this tweet from Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi.

Honestly, I do not believe the Rockies would trade Fowler straight up for Paxton, but if I’m the Mariners, that’s the most I would offer, at least in terms of potential impact talent. Fowler isn’t exactly a spring chicken anymore — he’s actually the same age as Billy Butler — and he is injury prone. An injury prone, but potentially dynamic center fielder, where have we heard that before? No I won’t go there.

In his five seasons as the everyday center fielder, Fowler has not been able to stay healthy for even one full season. This past year, he missed a career high 43 games. His on-base percentage has remained steady over the years, hovering around .350, but that’s about the only constant in his game. He’s not a regular source of power and his stolen base numbers have steadily declined. Still, he’s a legitimate defender in center — albeit not elite by any stretch — and the switch hitter is strongest from the right side. It’s also noteworthy that his swing fits Safeco Field well.

He would provide some stability at the leadoff spot, when healthy, and he is only one year removed from his career year in 2012, where he hit .300 and provided decent pop. One major question: Fowler’s career numbers away from Coors are not very good — .241/.333/.361 with 13 of his 40 career long balls.

The Rockies have always had a tough time luring pitchers to the Coors Field, and Paxton would provide them with a young pitcher that isn’t even arbitration eligible until 2017. Left-handed pitchers have had success at Coors Field recently, too. Take a look at Jorge De La Rosa, who went 10-1 with a 2.76 ERA in Denver last season.

Trade Proposal No. 3: Seattle trades LHP James Paxton and RHP Erasmo Ramirez to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for 1B/DH Mark Trumbo and CF Peter Bourjos

This one is probably the most far-fetched of the three as I do think the Angels would be giving up a little much here — or would require more in return. But, did you see their pitching staff last season? Yeah, Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson aren’t going to cut it.

Trumbo would provide the M’s with the right-handed power they have been seeking at a much, much lower cost than, say, free agent Nelson Cruz. He is going to strikeout. He is not going to hit for average. But he will hit for 25-plus home runs. He’s not much of an on-base guy, either, however, so there are some holes in his game that make his salary critical to his value.

Bourjos, for me, is a prime trade target, one the Mariners should pursue heavily even outside the parameters of a deal such as this one. His 2013 campaign was injury-riddled, but the speed and outfield defense he brings to the table would offset any potential defensive downgrades the M’s make by signing a Cruz/Trumbo/Beltran type player. Like Trumbo, he is another cost-effective upgrade that would keep payroll open to go after another bat on the open market.

For the Angels, it’s a matter of enduring the dynamic duo of Blanton and Hanson again, or swapping them out for a couple young guns with a lot of potential in Paxton and Ramirez. They’re stuck with Blanton’s contract, but can cut bait with Hanson — if they have other options.

Paxton’s September performances were promising, though limited, meaning the jury is still out on his value. The Mariners could be missing out on a solid starter for years to come by shipping him out to acquire offense, but at some point that is the price they have to pay to bring hitters to Safeco Field and to improve upon an offense that has not surpassed 700 runs scored in six seasons.

Jason A. Churchill


  1. This team needs to find a reliable healthy right handed CF with “good” defensive skills. If only Guti could stay healthy! The main priority for this team should be upgrading the outfield. We’ve got a great core for the infield and behind the plate. We’ve got a ton of young pitching. If a veteran #2 could be signed for the rotation and a power hitter acquired, that’d make it that much easier for Jack to swing a deal with some of our younger pieces to get a top talent in here. Hello Giacarlo!!

  2. I think that’s an overpay for Butler. He’s an average DH, probably around 2 WAR. I’d go one of Franklin or Paxton and some kind of throw in, but that’s about it. I might offer Paxton for Bourjos and forget Trumbo.

  3. Konerko has an open invitation from the White Sox owner to return if he wishes to play any longer. I don’t see him passing that up to spend time in the Great Northwest.

    MLB Daily Dish has a useful up-to-date free agents listing by position, age, previous contract and team at http://www.mlbdailydish.com/2013/11/1/5054716/mlb-free-agents-2014-position
    It’s a little more informative than MLBTR’s.

  4. With our young kids, I’d like to put some experience on the team.

    We keep hearing we are in need of right-handed power bats. First, I’d reach out to Paul Konerko and see if he’d be interested. He’s not injury prone and is a contact hitter. True, he had a down year in 2013 but I don’t see that as sign he’s lost it. I watched videos of his at-bats last year and compared to previous years and not much changed. All ball players can have a down year. Put him in a new scene, with an incentive contract and I believe we can create a monster. He plays 1b and can DH.
    Second, I’d contact Youkalis and see if he’d be willing to accept an incentive contract. Yes, I know he’s been hurt a lot the past couple years but word is he’s feeling better than he has in those couple years.
    Here’s a guy who could spell at 3B, DH, or 1B. Saw him working out recently and his swing isn’t 100% yet but he’s getting close.
    I’m not saying long term contracts with either. I’d give Youk a one year incentive but I’d go 2 years with Konerko. One year with a nice option smothered with incentives.

    After that, I’d look at some of the other FA’s to finish off the team. Ellsbury would be a better addition than Fowler. Trust me, Fowler in Safeco……see video of Figgins at the plate. 🙂 He has benefited greatly from Coors.

    Lastly, I’d make a strong offer for Cano. I know this sounds silly but put him at 2b, use Nick (and some other pieces) as trade material to get another SP, put Dustin out in right or left field.


    Is this a fantasy? Sure, we all have dreams, right? 🙂

    Happy Holidays everyone.

  5. Yes, Butler wouldn’t play the field, and he isn’t fleet of foot. But, aren’t there plenty of DHs out there that fit that mold? He has been one of the more durable players the past several years, and at some point, to get offense, the Mariners have to either open up payroll or trade for a hitter. Losing Paxton and Franklin would be tough, but the fact the M’s would be getting a proven player in return might make it worthwhile. He isn’t going to wow you with any of his skills, but he gets the job done at the plate year in and year out. This past season was a down year, but still hit .289/.374/.412.

  6. Just what we need, another no field, base clogging, overpaid DH. And trade our prospects for that DH. What an idea, I’m surprized JZ didn’t think of it first. Are you really serious about this proposal?

  7. I think all three ideas are reasonable, but I wouldn’t go for any of them. I just don’t think we’re ready to give up 6 year players for guys who are a couple years away from free agency.

    I’d be content with going the reclamation route at DH with Pronk or Morneau. Rather than trade for Fowler, I’d feel better throwing money at lesser options like Chris Young, Nate McLouth, or Rajai Davis.

    One thing to remember about Kendrys Morales now that he has declined arbitration: if Seattle resigns him they are essentially giving up a very high draft pick. Because Seattle has the worst record of all the teams that made qualifying offers they get the first pick in the supplemental round if Morales departs – the very first pick after the first round. And since a few teams will forfeit their 1st round picks to sign other Qualified Free Agents that will likely end up being a pick somewhere around #25 or higher in what looks like a fairly deep draft. I’m sure that’s something the team will take into consideration.

  8. I don’t think the Angels are giving up Bourjos AND Trumbo for Ramirez/Paxton… They MIGHT be willing to part with just Bourjos, but I’d bet they could get someone either more established or with more upside than than the Ramirez/Paxton combo.

  9. I’m not that keen on any of these ideas.

    Trumbo is way overrated in the same vein as Mike Morse: all he dies well is hit for power. Bourjos is a really interesting player, tho.

    I think Franklin and Paxton is too much for Butler. He’s a good hitter, but he’s coming off a down year, is getting expensive, and has no defensive value. He’s an interesting buy low candidate, but that isn’t a “buy low” price. He’d be a great addition, but that price seems a bit high. He’s still young but only signed for next year at $8 mil with a $12.5 mil option. Two top prospects is a too much.

    The Fowler trade is definitely the most interesting of the three.

    One thing to keep an eye on are trades where the M’s would be picking up big contracts: Matt Kemp, maybe Nick Markakis,

  10. The first trade scenario is assuming Butler would not play first base. He would be the everyday DH. The durability factor, plus the fact he is only 27, make him a better option than Morales in my mind. Now, if somehow the M’s could sign Morales for cheaper than what is being assumed/tossed around right now, then by all means go for it. The second scenario makes me the most queazy, as I’m not very impressed with Fowler either. But at some point, you have got to take risks if you’re going to improve the offense. And again, as I mentioned in the piece, the third scenario is the most far-fetched and I do not believe the Angels would do it for that price. But it is an interesting proposition to consider, and could be the framework for a similar deal with another club.

  11. Trade scenario #2 is interesting. I was thinking about Aaron Hicks for Maurer +.

    Twins looking for pitching, Buxton is knocking on the doorstep and ready to man CF at Target Field.

    Hicks was rushed to the majors without time in AAA (similar to Maurer).

    Hicks defense is ML ready.

  12. I have to agree. Morales hits from both sides of the plate, and is a better defender at first than Butler. I wouldn’t mind having him, but it would have to come as an alternate to signing Morales. And, given his fielding attributes, it better be Maurer and not Paxton in a deal.

  13. Sorry, no sale. Why trade valuable players for Butler when they can get Morales back for just money? Plus Butler wasn’t exactly great this past season and he’s as one-dimensionable as Morales. Fowler is a creature of Coors and over expensive for his talent and shelf life. The Angels are not giving up both Trumbo and Bourjos for two pitching prospects. Alden Gonzalez the MLB.com beat writer for the Angels wrote in detail on the subject in the past day or two.

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