Trade deadline only 15 days away

The Mariners will have to decide if they are buyers or sellers at the trading deadline on July 31st.  I would guess at this point they’re still in a wait and see mode, as is most of the American League because nobody is really out of the Wild Card race. It’s clear the M’s will have to come out of the All-Star break on fire if they are to be big buyers by the deadline. I also suspect that because nobody is really out of it in the AL, there will be fewer teams selling and more buying. The National League is different, with the Padres, Phillies, Rockies, Brewers, Reds and Marlins officially dead and gone.

Buyers or sellers, I don’t see the Mariners making any blockbuster deals either way.  They have some big salaries in Felix, Cano, Cruz, Seager and Rodney that make it hard for them to do the Houston strip down and start over model.  So there is a veteran nucleus that like it or not they can build around. But they do have some needs they can try to answer.

The Bullpen

Bullpens are finicky.  The M’s ‘pen was bad in 2013, brilliant in 2014 and dreadful again this year. Rodney will be gone in 2016, Beimel continues to get older, Farquhar and Wilhelmsen continue to mystify me. It’s likely more effective bullpen arms can be found at the trade deadline.

Catcher

John Paul Morosi linked the Mariners to a catching trade yesterday.  He subsequently backtracked by the end of the day.  I love Mike Zunino; he is a great catcher.  But at the plate the man is a black hole. With a .166/..223/.292 slash, and OPS+ of 46 and a wRC+ of 45 maybe they’ve seen enough and will send Zunino back to Tacoma for an extended stay to work on his hitting.  Yes, I know this never helped Justin Smoak or Dustin Ackley, but if they can pick up a guy who can give them some quality at bats and is decent behind the dish, it might be worth it to save the career of a guy who was rushed to the majors way too soon.

There are definitely some guys I could see going.  That doesn’t mean there is really anybody who wants them, but the M’s could pull the trigger if the offer is right.

Dustin Ackley

I don’t think the Ack Attack is Back.  He’s only gotten 34 plate appearances the last 28 days, but over that time he’s hit .387.  I’m sure there is a team out there who likes his athleticism, that he can play outfield and second base, and believes they can “fix” the former number two pick.  With the former Tarheel All-American arbitration eligible in 2016, the M’s might have decided enough is enough and be willing to part with him.

Logan Morrison

I know everybody likes Logan Morrison.  He’s a good interview and plays hard, but he’s just not that good.  With a .229/.300/.385 slash, a 95 OPS+ and a 92 wRC+, Morrison is a below average first baseman, with a pretty major platoon split.  He’s also in his walk year.  Though I don’t like Morrison in the outfield, other teams may see him as useful left handed bat. Mark Trumbo or Jesus Montero could take his at bats and reduce the DH logjam in the outfield.

Pitching

I’m not sure I really see the Mariners trading pitching, but it’s possible as Iwakuma returns to action and effectiveness.  Iwakuma is in his walk year, and for the right deal could be dealt.  J.A. Happ is not the same pitcher he was in April, and the M’s could part with him.  I can’t imagine they would deal Walker, Elias, Montgomery or the still-injured Paxton, but Zdurencik never fails to surprise me.

Jack and Lloyd

Jack Zdurencik is in his seventh year and in that time the Mariners have never made the playoffs. Not a division title and not in the enhanced wild card. He’s gone from building a team around run prevention to one that seems to be based on the long-ball and an all-or-nothing offense.  In 2015 he had money to spend, he acquired players like nobody’s business and the team has failed on the field. High draft choices-Ackley, Zunino, et. al have failed to develop.  Many of his trades, notably the Cliff Lee deal that netted Justin Smoak and a handful of magic beans were disappointing. I wouldn’t toss Jack out the door at mid-season, but I could see it happening.  He definitely has had his opportunity and fresh vision should be sought for the coming year.  I’m not sure after 1+ years whether Lloyd McClendon is part of the problem, but it is telling that in a recent ESPN survey of writers comments McClendon was not highly thought of by the media except in dealing with the media.  If the GM goes, the manager usually follows.

Moves or no, the next 15 day will be important to this franchise.

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