Ideal Trade Scenarios for the Seattle Mariners

Thomas HolmesCorrespondent IIINovember 29, 2016

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Is it me or do you get the feeling that when Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels picks up the phone, people listen?

How about Detroit Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski?

Last week when the two men worked out a blockbuster deal involving Prince Fielder and Ian Kinsler, it made me wonder if Seattle Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik could possibly make such a deal.  

As Larry Stone at The Seattle Times pointed out, the potential to at least try is certainly there when you give the Mariners situation some thought:

I fear that the top free agents will view the festering mess that currently exists in Seattle and decide to pass, even if the Mariners pony up with a competitive offer. That will leave them to either dip into the trade market, where the danger is robbing Peter to pay Paul, or targeting second-tier free-agent talent. Then the temptation will be to overpay in order to provide the fans with some evidence of change — a trap to which the Mariners have succumbed too often.

As I said, it’s treacherous terrain. But it’s also the most fun time of the year, when you can at least dream of better times ahead for the Mariners.

Either that, or go back to watching Seahawks highlights.

Given the 'Hawks are off on a bye week and don't play until next Monday night, I figure we might as well discuss.  

But what exactly should we be discussing?

Fact is, it's silly season once again, that time of year when rumors of all shapes and sizes get tossed around by writers and fans all throughout baseball. Making matters all the more entertaining, the Mariners continue to be linked to every outfielder or a corner bat with a pulse. 

In fact, it's so bad that rumors from last year are being recycled by this year. 

In case you're wondering if the Mariners should trade for Billy Butler now, let's just say my answer hasn't changed all that much since last year. 

At this point you may be inclined to ask, what then is my idea of an ideal trade?

If I had my druthers, I'd trade Jesus Montero, Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Danny Hultzen to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez and Gerrit Cole. 

Of course the odds of this happening are exactly zero as Pirates GM Neal Huntington would never in a million years consider such a ridiculous swap, but I like to think this extreme example can be used to serve as a starting point of sorts for Zduriencik. 

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let's be clear that an ideal trade for the Mariners does not include Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma or Kyle Seager. Meanwhile, in terms of the future as Larry Stone discussed, I too would like to avoid robbing Peter to pay Paul. Therefore, no ideal trade would have the M's give up too soon on the likes of Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, Mike Zunino, James Paxton or Taijuan Walker.

In an ideal world Hultzen would have made his debut this year.
In an ideal world Hultzen would have made his debut this year.H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY

So why have I excluded pitcher Danny Hultzen from this list and mythically shipped him off to Pittsburgh?

First off, I don't think the Mariners will or even can actively shop Hultzen this winter without having to place a huge "Buyer Beware" sticker upon his head. 

To some this may seem a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to Hultzen's lost season due to injuries, but until he can stay healthy and show some level of consistency, I'd be willing to consider him as part of any deal to help the team in either the long or short term. 

Sadly, the same could be said of nearly the entire Mariners roster.  

Therefore, an ideal trade could include just about anyone else from the bullpen, the back end of the rotation, infield or outfield as far as I'm concerned. 

Unfortunately, there is nothing ideal about a trade involving the likes of Michael Saunders and Yoervis Medina for a potential partner, which leads me to believe that Jack Z doesn't get many of his phone calls returned these days without someone asking for Taijuan Walker. 

Even if a fellow GM did respond and move past Walker, you still have to imagine the players exchanged for Saunders and Medina probably wouldn't be considered much of an improvement. It's part of the reason I struggle to see Zduriencik making a move this winter that will actually make a difference for the Mariners next season. 

Understand this goes beyond my loss in faith of Zduriencik, as I'm not sure any GM right now would have much luck painting their way out of the corner the Mariners are in without spending money on free agents and hoping roughly a half-dozen deals work in their favor.

Then again, maybe Trader Jack will surprise us all and pull off a minor miracle?

If so, he best get moving because the market seems to be picking up with each passing day. 

Until then, I will dream of a day when the Mariners have someone like Andrew McCutchen patrolling the outfield at Safeco. Some fanbases in other markets can secretly pine for, but deep down know is off-limits, because the Mariners would never trade him in a million years and have him under contract for his prime.

To think the Mariners could have had Ellsbury from the start...
To think the Mariners could have had Ellsbury from the start...Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Something like that, right?

Truth be told, back in 2005 the Mariners could have actually drafted McCutchen or roughly a half-dozen other All-Star-caliber players, including an outfielder from Oregon State named Jacoby Ellsbury. Instead, Bill Bavasi with the No. 3 pick selected Southern California catcher Jeff Clement.

To think the ideal trade scenario this winter could have been finding complementary pieces to support McCutchen or Ellsbury; instead the best we can hope for is trading for a player possessing some degree of McCutchen's skill set or overpaying Ellsbury.  

Maybe that's oversimplifying things a bit, but let's face it, it's hard sometimes to shake the notion that the Mariners could have had either player paired with Adam Jones and Ichiro at some point covering all three outfield positions. 

So what's the ideal trade?

The one that helps us all move on from foolishly wondering what could have been. 


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