Could Justin Upton, Trevor Bauer Anchor Possible Felix Hernandez Blockbuster?

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 19: Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches during a game against the Kansas City Royals in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium on July 19, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Where does the truth lie?

Earlier Tuesday morning, we learned from Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal that the Arizona Diamondbacks were working on a "blockbuster deal" involving a front-line starting pitcher, one that he envisioned Justin Upton being used to acquire.

Not five hours later—presumably because most of Arizona's front office was sleeping—USA Today's Bob Nightengale brought us the Diamondbacks' unofficial statement on the matter:

The #Dbacks say that Justin Upton is def staying and no truth to rumors of Cliff Lee or Felix Hernandez

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 31, 2012

Rosenthal notes that the Mariners did in fact check in on what it would take to acquire Upton earlier this month, though the talks aren't believed to have progressed very far. Arizona would certainly ask for Felix Hernandez in any deal for Upton.

We all know who and what Hernandez is, so there's no point in going over the impact that he'd have in Arizona—it would be huge. That generally happens when you add one of the five best pitchers in baseball.

Now, Upton alone wouldn't be enough to entice Seattle to give up the ace of its pitching staff—but including Trevor Bauer, the third overall pick in the 2011 draft and one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball, could.

Upton certainly fills a need for Seattle, who has lacked a big bat in the middle of its lineup for years. Since trading Ichiro Suzuki to the Yankees, the Mariners have used 25-year-old Carlos Peguero in right field.

Peguero has struggled mightily at the plate since making his major league debut in 2011, posting a .185/.234/.353 batting line with seven home runs and 22 RBI in 189 career plate appearances. To call Upton an upgrade would be the understatement of the century.

Bauer, 21, struggled in four games earlier this season for Arizona, posting a 6.06 ERA and 1.65 WHIP over 16 innings pitched, walking 13 while striking out 17. Along with prospects Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker, Bauer would give the Mariners one of the best up-and-coming rotations in the game.

While trade rumors are just that—rumors—facts are facts. And the simple fact of the matter is that the Mariners are years away from being a contender under their current direction. While they'll have quality pitching, their offense desperately needs a big, powerful bat.

Moving "King Felix" for Upton and Bauer would jump-start what is a floundering rebuilding process in Seattle. It gives Arizona the big-time starting pitcher it needs, with Daniel Hudson out for the season and Ian Kennedy regressing from his Cy Young-caliber 2011 campaign.

It makes sense for both sides.

And that's why it probably won't happen.