Seattle Mariners trade rumors have been abundant so far this offseason, but the club has yet to pull any triggers. They've been included in trade talks for Dexter Fowler, Billy Butler and even Matt Kemp, but putting a package together to acquire said all-star caliber players is easier said than done, and it would likely include at least one of Seattle's top prospects, which doesn't always work out as planned (i.e. Adam Jones for Erik Bedard).
That being said, the Mariners do have some weak spots that can be filled via trade or free agency without letting go of coveted high-end prospects.
The three backstops currently on Seattle's roster are Jesus Montero, Jesus Sucre and Mike Zunino.
I'm sure Jack Zduriencik doesn't want to give up on Montero just yet, but if he was hitting in the low .200s with single digit homers while taking PEDs, I don't like the chances of him being much better off the juice.
Zunino is undoubtedly Seattle's catcher of the future but needs grooming and a veteran to help the process along. I'm not saying Zunino shouldn't start, but adding a guy who's well traveled and can start if needed would fill a void that the Mariners' retirement-home catching staff couldn't last year.
Solution: Kurt Suzuki
Suzuki is currently a free agent after Oakland declined his $650,000 2014 option, and he would make a perfect complement to Zunino.
For one, he's a solid all-around player. He gets on base and has some pop, and although his defense is on the decline, he's been an above-average defensive catcher throughout his career.
For two, is doesn't feel right not having a Suzuki on the roster.
For three, Suzuki is a veteran guy who can help Zunino along without getting in the way of his development. He's also more than capable of taking on a starting role if need be.
The outfield has been the position of emphasis for months now, and with Franklin Gutierrez's option being declined, the position has an even greater need.
Trading for Fowler would make sense, but it would likely come at the expense of one of Seattle's top pitching prospects. Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton could be safe, but Tyler Pike could have to be let go. Pike is the Mariners fourth-rated prospect and went 7-4 with a 2.37 ERA for Single-A Clinton last season in 27 starts.
The Rockies are in desperate need of pitching and may want someone who can fill a spot in the rotation right away, though in which case they could get greedy and ask for one of the aforementioned "big three."
Free-agent outfielder Nate McLouth is another option. The recently turned 32-year-old amassed a career-high 30 stolen bases last season, is a scrappy player who goes all out and is a solid hitter who gets on base a ton. He would also be a bargain—likely sign-able for $5 million per season.
McLouth's former teammate in Baltimore, Nick Markakis wold be a viable option as a corner outfielder in Seattle. He's durable, he's a good hitter with power, he gets on base and he's an excellent fielder. He has one year left on his contract with a team option for 2015 and will be making $15 million this season. Markakis has a monster arm and would get plenty of extra base hits in Safeco.
Like Fowler, Markakis would likely be traded for a pitcher. Pike could be the guy, or Seattle could package Tyler Smith and Edwin Diaz, a pair of right-handed pitchers in Seattle's farm system.