As the Seattle Mariners continue their managerial search, I’ve changed up the manner in which I’ll make trade suggestions and cite potential matches as the club turns its attention to the roster soon after the World Series. Rather than one drawn-out piece in October, I’ll discuss multiple possibilities via numerous pieces over the next several weeks. I started that Sunday by suggesting the M’s and Detroit Tigers could hook up again.
The Mariners need a lot of help — understatement of the decade, right? What they don’t need are aging players with bloated contracts — does any team need that? But in order to make significant progress, the organization may have to make some concessions in terms of how perfect everything fits together, including taking calculated risks with contracts and trading young players the team has drafted and developed.
Jack Zduriencik’s former employer has two players I feel are fits in Seattle to enough degree that a phone call should be made. Carlos Gomez, a terrific centerfielder who has exploded at the plate the past two years, and right-hander Yovani Gallardo.
It’s easy to see why Gomez fits; team-friendly contract — three years, $24 million — through 2015. He’s 29 years old in December, a right-handed batter and would be a natural fit at lead-off. He’s not going to be easy to get, assuming Milwaukee Brewers GM Doug Melvin is even willing to have the conversation, but if I were Melvin and owner Mark Attanasio, no player on my team is untouchable after the struggles the past two years.
The 28-year-old Gallardo, drafted by Zduriencik in the second round of the 2004 Draft, struggled at times in 2013, with his strikeout rate sinking to 7.17 after sitting between 8.99 and 9.89 the previous four seasons, though his FIP basically stayed the same as 2012.
The concern is with Gallardo’s health; his velocity was down a full tick for the second straight season, but his other pitches held serve for the most part, and if he’s given a clean bill of health he’s the kind of risk the Mariners should look into taking. Gallardo is due $11.25 million in 2014 and the club holds an option for 2015 at $13 million. The contract is perfect. If the M’s like what Gallardo gives them in 2013, they have the option to bring him back for another year. If he regressed or shows more signs that he’s injured — or actually suffers a significant injury — they can buy him out at $600,000.
His performance could bounce back after two non-ace seasons in a row, provided his medicals check out, and he’d fit nicely sliding into the No. 3 spot behind Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma.
I’m not suggesting the M’s go after Gomez or Gallardo, however. I’m thinking a Gomez-Gallardo package deal.
So, how do the Mariners get Gomez and Gallardo from the Brewers, who finished 74-88 this past season? And how do they do that without trading away so much that it’s counterproductive? Offer the Brewers what they don’t have, of course. What the Brewers don’t have, generally speaking, is enough young talent. The M’s have some of that.
The only young players I’d mark untouchable are Mike Zunino and Taijuan Walker. I’d be willing to move any other player in a package for Gomez and Gallardo, even if that means middle infielders Nick Franklin or Brad Miller have to be involved.
Left-hander James Paxton plus Miller or Franklin is a decent start. Shortstop prospect Chris Taylor, right-handers Tom Wilhelmsen, Carter Capps, Brandon Maurer, Yoervis Medina, Carson Smith, Dom Leone, Danny Farquhar and Erasmo Ramirez, and left-hander Charlie Furbush, as well as outfielder Michael Saunders, first baseman Justin Smoak, and infielder-outfielder Dustin Ackley could also provide value in such a trade. The only other prospect that should be protected is D.J. Peterson, who can’t be traded until February, anyway. Names such as Edwin Diaz, Victor Sanchez, both right-handed starting pitchers, could be included.
If certain other clubs wanted to make the same trade, they’d probably be able to outbid the Mariners — since Walker and Zunino aren’t likely to be discussed to any level. [Yes, it’d help if left-hander Danny Hultzen were healthy.] The Brewers’ position as a team with a non-contending roster with significant holes without a strong farm system to supplement it exponentially, could help the M’s. It might be a slight ‘bulk’ style trade, but those have worked out for clubs in the past, including when Zduriencik dealt closer J.J. Putz to the New York Mets for Jason Vargas and Franklin Gutierrez.
Trades are difficult to consummate, of course, and the Mariners would have to give up a good chunk of legit talent, so this idea has little chance, at best, of happening, but it’s the kind of idea, with the kind of players, that the Mariners need to consider, and it’s not like the Brewers are contenders that have no business talking trades that include their best players.
And no, the Mariners should not try to trade for Ryan Braun.
Jason A. Churchill
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