Grading the Vargas-Morales Trade Between the Mariners and Angels

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Grading the Vargas-Morales Trade Between the Mariners and Angels
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After losing out on Josh Hamilton, the Seattle Mariners needed to make a move.

Well, maybe they didn't have to complete a transaction, but the fan base certainly appreciates some movement after missing out on a blockbuster.

So, Jason Vargas heads to Southern California and the Mariners welcome Kendrys Morales.

Trades within the division are always a tricky business, simply because a team is faced with the prospect of seeing the castoff many times during the upcoming season.

However, when a trade presents itself and it arguably benefits both teams, there may be enough incentive to look past division rivalries.

Grading a trade has to include an assessment of short-term benefits, as well as how the deal may impact the team long term.

At the risk of simplifying an evaluation, both teams receive a fairly similar grade.

Grade for the Mariners: B-

The acquisition of Morales gives Seattle a hitter that has a solid history of success, and Kendrys is easily one of the more experienced bats in the lineup.

Morales obviously has some pop, as he clubbed 34 home runs in 2009 in 154 games. Granted, there is always some caution with getting excited about hitting stats from three years ago.

His 2011 season was certainly solid, and adding a career .281 hitter to the lineup is an instant upgrade.

With a suddenly-crowded Angels lineup, Morales became expendable.  But there is some wisdom in asking why a team is willing to let a hitter go.

The Mariners get a B- for a couple of reasons.

Morales is 29 years old, which means that he is not exactly part of a youth movement. However, given that the Mariners were chasing a 31-year-old Josh Hamilton, Morales should have some solid years ahead of him.

It seems reasonable to expect productivity from Morales. The dilemma will be how to handle a successful season (if he has one in 2012).

Given that Morales is a free agent after the season, Seattle could be faced with the hard choice of whether or not to offer a multi-year deal to a guy that will soon be on the wrong side of 30.

Still, it may be a good problem to have if Morales has a solid year. He may be cheaper than someone like Josh Hamilton.

The other challenge for the Mariners is that they are losing a veteran starting pitcher that will not be automatically replaced by a young prospect. There is talent in the farm system, but it may not be ready for 2013.

Seattle will need hitting in a big way, but they are potentially giving up some of their strength in order to address a weakness.

This could be a good trade for the Mariners for next season and beyond. However, Morales could also walk away and the Mariners would be left with nothing.

Granted, they could have been caught in the same situation with Jason Vargas.

Grade for the Angels: B+

The Angels needed starting pitching after losing out on Zack Greinke and failing to bring back Dan Haren and Ervin Santana.

For the Angels, Vargas is a relatively low risk.  He won 14 games last year on a team that did not exactly provide consistent run support.  Needless to say, the Angels should give Vargas a bit more support in 2013 than Seattle did . Vargas should be a solid part of the rotation, and he can potentially pitch a lot of innings for the Angels.

After adding Josh Hamilton to an already stellar offense led by Albert Pujols, the Angels were in a position to let one of their bats go.

Vargas will also be a potential free agent after this season, but the Angels are in a financial situation where they will theoretically be able to handle giving Jason a market-friendly raise.  Therefore, the Angels get a higher grade because they have less to lose in the long run. They also have the assets to chase replacements if Vargas leaves.

It is fair to suggest that both teams did pretty well in this deal. We will have to wait and see on extensions before determining the long-term winner or loser.

In the short term, both teams should be able to benefit from their new acquisitions.

At least the Mariners are making moves, right?

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