With fewer than 100 days remaining until opening day 2013, the Seattle Mariners still seem to be looking for ways to improve their team.
After trading for Kendrys Morales just before Christmas, rumors began swirling about whether the Mariners would deal their young first baseman Justin Smoak.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe mentions the Balitmore Orioles as one team interested in Smoak's services, while Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun opines that a Smoak-for-Brian Matusz swap could work out well for both teams.
Would it be worth it for Seattle, though?
On a positive note, Matusz would fill one of the open spots in the starting rotation, and he is a southpaw, which would help replace the void left by trading Jason Vargas.
Matusz, however, has struggled his entire career at the major league level and hasn't really shown any signs of turning the corner.
Only once has Matusz managed to pitch 100 innings in the last three years and has never posted an ERA below 4.30 in his career.
Last season saw the 25-year-old register an ERA of 4.87 and WHIP of 1.56 in just 98 innings pitched in what was his fourth year playing major league baaseball.
Smoak has been disappointing up to this point as well, but after being sent down to work on his swing, Smoak was able to return and hit more effectively for the M's.
Furthermore, the premise that he is expendable thanks to the acquisition of Kendrys Morales is a risky notion.
Morales, after all, will be a free agent at the conclusion of the 2013 season and could walk, which would leave the Mariners without either player.
Consider the fact that Smoak still has minor league options left as well. It would be a wise move for the Mariners to send him down for the season and use one of his options, as opposed to trading him away as an insurance policy to Morales' potential departure.
Trading Smoak before he has a chance to prove that his bounce back at the end of last year wasn't a fluke could really come back to haunt the Mariners.
At this point, trading Smoak for Matusz straight up seems to present more risk to Seattle than reward.
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