5 Seattle Mariners Who Should Be Untouchable at the Trade Deadline
It seems the future is now in Seattle as Ichiro is on his way to the New York Yankees.
While it might seem clear now that the Mariners are sellers this year, not everyone in the Mariners organization is available.
In fact, there are a few players that should be considered untouchable.
Yes, the Mariners have issues. For anyone still paying attention out there, you are well aware that it's been a long season, but one that Seattle fans hope will serve as a building block for bigger things.
The following players are the ones I'm hopeful the front office will consider talented enough to hold on to for this season and longer.
Felix Hernandez: Pitcher
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By now I'd imagine you've read every story arguing the pros and cons of trading Felix Hernandez.
A few weeks ago I pieced together my thoughts on the issue by presenting options the M's would be foolish to ignore, but I still think King Felix stays put for now.
Perhaps the M's are going nowhere fast, but Felix is the only shred of evidence that baseball still exists in the Pacific Northwest now that Ichiro is gone.
One can only hope that Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik is not about to sell him for a pair of middling pitching prospects.
Yes, Felix will probably never be as valuable ever again on the trade market for the Mariners, and keeping him could be nothing more than sentimental foolishness. Unfortunately, it's all the M's have at the moment. If any of the highly touted youngsters had managed to step up at this point, we might be having a different conversation...
Jesus Montero: Catcher / DH
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Speaking of youngsters, Jesus Montero came to the Mariners with high hopes this past offseason in a trade from the Yankees for pitcher Michael Pineda.
Going into the season, Montero looked like a potential Rookie-of-the-Year candidate, but he has put together fairly pedestrian numbers through more than 80 games.
At times he's shown the hitting prowess to be a long-term fixture in Seattle, and at others he's looked a bit lost, if not simply worn out. Right now it's too soon to judge him either at the plate or behind it, especially since Montero is only 22 years old.
This season's progress will likely be slow for the rookie catcher and DH, but his development will hinge on how well he maintains his stamina, as M's manager Eric Wedge has pledged from the beginning.
I believe that, in time, if Montero can hit, he will find a home with the Mariners. If not, then it will be a major setback in the never-ending rebuilding process for Seattle.
Dustin Ackley: Infield
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Speaking of setbacks, second-year man Dustin Ackley has struggled terribly this season.
Ackley was the No. 2 pick in the 2009 Draft—just one selection after Stephen Strasburg—and looked like the real deal this time last year after arriving in Seattle following a torrid stretch in the minors.
Much like Montero, hopes were high for Ackley in 2012, but through 90 games this season, he just hasn't managed to hit with the authority he showed immediately following his call up from Tacoma in 2011.
Can he rebound?
I am not sure if he can this season, but it's way too early to sell on Ackley, as the team has too much invested in him to ship him off within the next week.
With Ichiro gone, expect Ackley to own the leadoff spot from here on out, provided he can hit the baseball.
Danny Hultzen: Pitcher
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Two years after drafting UNC hitting prospect Dustin Ackley with the No. 2 pick, the Mariners once again decided to draft an ACC star by selecting UVA pitcher Danny Hultzen with the No. 2 pick in 2011.
In a little over a year's time since being drafted, Hultzen has managed to work his way all the way to the M's doorstep at AAA-Tacoma while mowing down batters at every stop.
Is he ready for the big leagues yet?
It's not often do you get a lefty who can pitch with authority and control like Hultzen, so I'd prefer that he stays put.
Taijuan Walker: Pitcher
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Keeping Taijuan Walker should come as no surprise to Mariner fans.
As good as Danny Hultzen is, Walker might be even better. So far this year, the numbers on Walker have been a bit uneven; nevertheless, it would be downright foolish to trade him.
Walker is the kind of prospect with electric stuff that a team should only trade away when they are one piece away from winning a World Series.
Since the M's aren't quite there yet, I'd prefer they hold on tight to Walker—as a security blanket of sorts.
At the rate things are going, if the team ever decides to part ways with King Felix, I would feel much better knowing that Walker is in the system.
In a few years time, he might be our only hope...
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Honestly, I'm still trying to process the trade.
While I'll confess that I'm not really shocked, I am surprised.
In a way, I feel a little caught off guard, having believed we had a few more weeks this season to share with him.
Sure I've complained about him taking up space, his declining numbers, and so forth, yet I figured such talk had fallen on deaf ears and would never amount to much.
Now that it's real, it feels a bit empty. Making things even stranger will be seeing Ichiro in a Yankees uniform right away at Safeco. Once again, I am not sure what to think.
Looking forward to hearing from all of you as I invite you to share...