The Major League Baseball Trade Deadline passes this Saturday, and baseball’s buyers and sellers will be in negotiations all week over potential last minute trades.
The Seattle Mariners are undoubtedly sellers at this year’s deadline. At 39-60, the Mariners sit 18.5 games behind the AL West leading Texas Rangers, and have already traded away this year’s most sought after trade target, ace pitcher Cliff Lee.
Having made a clear move towards selling at the trade deadline, the pressure is now on Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik to prepare his team for contention in 2011. Zduriencik must now decide what other players, if any, he can deal at the deadline.
Here is a quick list of five current Mariners who could have new addresses by next week.
2B Jose Lopez
The Mariners seem to have a future built around LF Michael Saunders, C Adam Moore, 1B Justin Smoak, and last year’s first round draft pick, converted 2B Dustin Ackley.
Ackley was recently promoted from Double-A West Tennessee to Triple-A Tacoma, and in his first game in Tacoma, he hit a walk-off sacrifice fly. Ackley is a sure bet to factor into the Mariners’ future, and if they want to get him big-league experience this year , they may try and shop Lopez for additional prospects.
The Phillies are actively searching for a replacement middle infielder, as injuries have plagued regular 2B Chase Utley and 3B Placido Polanco. With Polanco currently filling in at second base, the Phillies have the flexibility of searching for a second baseman or third baseman.
Don’t be surprised if the Phillies make a play for a middle infielder—it might turn out to be Jose Lopez.
Chance of Being Traded: Medium
1B Russell Branyan/1B Casey Kotchman
The Seattle Mariners currently roster first basemen Justin Smoak, Casey Kotchman, and Russell Branyan, and have Mike Sweeney on the Disabled List with back problems. It’s a crowded infield, to say the least.
The simple fix to this situation would be dealing one-time-starter-but-now-ineffective Casey Kotchman to a contender as a late inning defensive replacement and occasional pinch hitter. Unfortunately, his .215/.294/.654 line is uninspiring, and is unlikely to coax a contender into exchanging prospects for his services.
Seattle’s acquisition of Russell Branyan in late June was so uncharacteristic Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times thought the initial report of the trade was a hoax. At the time, Seattle was 14 games out of first place, and seemingly out of contention in 2010.
Now, if the Mariners want to deal a first baseman, Branyan may be the most attractive trade bait. It would be ironic for the Mariners to acquire and trade Branyan within a month, but the current roster makes him disappointingly expendable, and Jack Zduriencik might make a move that is best for business, and not just fan appeal.
Here’s to hoping that a rival executive wakes up and says, “I need a .200 bat with Gold Glove caliber defense.”
Chance of Being Traded: Low
RP David Aardsma/RP Brandon League
Every year, relief arms are dealt at the Major League Baseball trade deadline. Often, closers become set-up men and specialists are exchanged as teams race to acquire quality arms (a seemingly unending race). Since 2005, notable names such as Eric Gagne, LaTroy Hawkins, Kyle Farnsworth, Arthur Rhodes, and George Sherrill have been moved in deadline deals.
Jack Zduriencik has a malleable bullpen in front of him. Sending 26-year-old RP Mark Lowe to Texas in the Cliff Lee trade was shocking, even though Lowe was injured, because Lowe has a power arm and high potential. Now, Zduriencik must decide if he will also move 27-year-old Brandon League and 28-year-old David Aardsma.
Aardsma seems the most likely to leave Seattle. His 2.52 ERA last season is looking more and more like an exception to his career numbers, and some clubs have shown interest in his services.
League is a more complicated issue, because Zduriencik gave up former first round pick Brandon Morrow to acquire League earlier this year. Morrow’s 4.71 ERA is nothing impressive, but he has fanned 119 batters in 107 innings pitched, and is still in his mid-twenties.
If Zduriencik decides to move League, he could face criticism if he is unable to obtain at least a Morrow-caliber package in return.
Chance of Being Traded: High
It remains to be seen what the Mariners will do in the coming week, but don’t be surprised if any of these names move elsewhere as the Mariners build for 2011.
Do you agree with these potential trade candidates? Comment below with your thoughts!