Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Trade Deadline

I've had this sitting here half written for several days, so I guess I should finish it up.  If it's uneven, that's because I cared about it when I started but don't anymore - I just don't want to completely abandon it.

With the trade deadline roughly 2 weeks away and the Mariners all but eliminated from any playoff hopes (they still have a 2% chance of making the playoffs according to Cool Standings), they are officially sellers this year.  So let the trade talks begin.  Currently there are only 4 guys on the roster that I would be unwilling to trade:  Hernandez, Pineida, Smoak, and Ackley.  And even then, for the right price I could be talked into giving up any of them except Felix.  The problem is, other than those guys, who do we have that might bring us anything worthwhile in return?  I would say Ichiro and maybe Brandon League. I don't think ownership will ever let Ichiro go, but with him currently hitting .260 with 1 HR and 24 RBI, an OBP of .307, and a salary of $17M a year, I'm certainly willing to let him go at this point in his career.  Brandon League made the All Star team this year and his value will probably never be higher.  I don't have a great deal of confidence in him, so for the right price I'd trade him, I just don't know if any contender is willing to give us a legitimate prospect for him.

So the question in my mind is:  which position players will be with the team long term?  And I define long term as beyond the 2012 season.  The pitching staff is solid, it's just the fielders that need work.  Looking at the roster now I say Ackley, Smoak, and maybe Carp and Halman.  Beyond that it's a complete rebuild.  Nobody else can hit well enough to keep around.  And yes, I am saying that I think Ichiro is just about done.  I don't know who in Tacoma is going to be able to step into the majors next year - I like what I've seen of Matt Mangini, but the team doesn't seem to think too highly of him.  The organization seems to like Kyle Seager and have given him a little playing time at 3rd, so assuming he pans out, that leaves 5 holes to fill.  Since it doesn't appear that we will fill those holes through our own minor league system that means we have to fill them through free agency or trades.  Unloading Ichiro's $17M salary and Figgins $9M will mean we can do a bit more the free agent route, but we still have to trade for 2-3 major league ready players or prospects.  Without crippling the pitching staff that's a tall order to fill. 

Considering all this, I think the only trades we're likely to see are 1 reliever and 1 starter going.  Ichiro is the only position player that might bring back a decent return but ownership will never let him go.  Any other trades will be to dump salary or clear a roster spot to get a younger guy more playing time.  So I think we might see Brandon League go - his value has never been higher.  I'm skeptical as to how long he can remain productive anyway so I won't shed a tear if he leaves.  It's also possible that either Vargas or Fister might get traded.  It would be a shame to lose either, but with the amount of run support they have gotten I have to think either would welcome a trade.  That's it, one or two of those three, and maybe dumping some fielders who are taking up roster space.  We won't see anything to get excited about this year. 
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