The MLB trade deadline is always exciting. Marquee players change teams, contenders bolster their rosters and the intensity of the playoff push is heightened. Most teams are labeled as either "buyers" or "sellers" depending on their situation, and then there's the Yankees, who are always buyers regardless.
The Seattle Mariners find themselves in an interesting situation as the deadline approaches. They're still 12 games behind Oakland for the division lead and 7.5 games out of a wild-card spot, but they've been playing exceptionally well lately, going 15-8 so far in July, highlighted by an eight-game winning streak.
Do they sell their veterans and continue to stockpile prospects? Do they target an outfielder or a pitcher to push them over the hump and fight for a postseason berth? Or do they do nothing, stick with what they have and hope their hot play continues?
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik isn't aggressively pursuing anybody, rather he's listening to offers and otherwise letting things play out.
"We'll see how this week goes. I'm not going to be the aggressor. I'm not shopping anyone," said Zduriencik to Heyman. Jack Z's in a tough spot for the aforementioned reasons, but certainly he has to make at least one move, right?
Per Fox Sports' Jon Morosi (via Ken Rosenthal), the M's are reportedly interested in bringing in San Diego slugger Kyle Blanks, which would fill a void left by Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse or Raul Ibanez if one of them is traded.
Blanks is 26 and still pretty raw offensively, but he has shown some pop in four abbreviated seasons with the Padres. His size alone (6'5'', 265 lbs) coupled with his lack of defensive prowess makes him an ideal designated hitter.
If he can show a little more patience at the plate, he could be a nice piece for Seattle in the future but probably wouldn't add much value this season, especially since he's been out since July 12 with an Achilles injury. His timetable to return is unknown.
Speaking of Morales and Morse, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports the Texas Rangers have shown interest in acquiring one or both of the veteran hitters. Seeing as the Rangers are one of the teams Seattle is chasing in the standings, I would be surprised if Zduriencik traded them within the division, especially since Morales would be a great player to re-sign for next season.
Another Mariners player drawing interest is reliever Oliver Perez. Per Jon Heyman, the Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles have shown the greatest interest in the starter-turned-reliever, but the Mariners insist that they want "premiere prospects" in exchange for relief pitchers Perez, Charlie Furbush and Brian Moran, per Peter Gammons.
Perez is the most likely player to be traded since teams are always looking for bullpen help and relievers are somewhat dispensable.
The Tampa Bay Rays have been surging toward the top of the AL East lately and want Raul Ibanez to keep them in the playoff hunt, per Jon Heyman. As usual, the Yankees have shown interest, and the Rangers have checked in on Ibanez as well.
The Mariners should be extremely hesitant in trading Ibanez for several reasons. He has been and always will be a fan favorite. He's having one of his best seasons ever at age 41. He's a leader in the clubhouse and a mentor for young players. If this isn't his last season, he can be re-signed for relatively cheap. I'd keep Ibanez at all costs unless an offer that can't be refused comes across the table.
What should the Mariners do at the trade deadline?
There isn't a single team that sands out as a "seller" this season, even the Astros, who have a roster of young players they plan to keep for a while, and the lowly Miami Marlins, but surely Giancarlo Stanton will draw heavy interest. At this point, the Marlins should think about shopping their home run sculpture. Someone has to want him.