The Seattle Mariners didn’t wait until the final minutes leading up to the Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline to make their moves.
By the time the 1 p.m. (PDT) cutoff passed, general manager Jack Zduriencik was done. The moves he could make, he made hours and even days before.
While Ichiro Suzuki, Brandon League and Steve Delabar had all been dealt, a few other likely candidates – including starting pitchers Jason Vargas and Kevin Millwood – remained with the Mariners.
“We had discussion like we always do,” Zduriencik said. “There were certainly general managers calling and wanting to talk about different things. But you are not in a position to give players away. And we’re just aren’t going to do that.”
So Zduriencik didn’t make a move.
“If there wasn’t a real nice match, then I wasn’t motivated to do something that would take away from where we currently are at,” he said. “Just to do something to do it wouldn’t really make a lot of sense. I thought that it was in our best interest to continue to do what we’re doing, and the guys that are here are big pieces of this thing.”
Reports from various outlets had Zduriencik seeking a hefty price for Vargas, who Tuesday with an 11-7 record and a 3.76 ERA.
Vargas’ value might be higher to the Mariners than other teams, simply because of his success at Safeco Field.
“Every player has a value to some degree to the club he’s on,” Zduriencik said. “In our particular case, we have a pitcher that has thrown 200 innings last year and he’s on his way to do that this year. He’s having a real nice season. He’s been very effective for us. He’s a very dependable guy, day in and day out.”
Manager Eric Wedge didn’t have the slightest worry that he might lose his starter hours before the game.
“I wasn’t concerned,” Wedge said. “I think we put that to bed a while ago.”
So if the Mariners weren’t too interested in dealing Vargas, are they interested in keeping him?
Vargas is making $4.85 million this year. Realistically, he could make $8 million next year in his final year of arbitration eligibility. After that, barring a contract agreement, he becomes a free agent. So if the Mariners like Vargas, an extension of two to three years might be a good move. Of course, Zduriencik wouldn’t commit to it.
“You know no matter what, you have Jason back one way or the other,” Zduriencik said. “To go public with what we are going to do, it’s just been my policy to keep it close to the vest. The one thing you do know is that you have him for next year. I think when you look at what might be on your club next year – some of the young guys – that some guys with leadership and some guys with experience will be important.”
Millwood’s long-term value to the Mariners is low. But his value on the trade market dropped significantly against the likes of younger starters such as Zack Greinke, Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Cliff Lee and Joe Blanton.
As for position players, the Mariners really had nothing of serious attraction. The trade of Ichiro showed that the return in any deal would be minimal.
Still, the fans might perceive the Mariners were inactive in pursuit of big names at the deadline, while the division-rival Angels added Greinke a few days ago, and the Rangers added Dempster.
Zduriencik shrugged off such perceptions.
“They’re in a completely different situation than we are,’’ Zduriencik said. “Financially, number one. What they’ve done this year, what they did in the wintertime and now they’ve got this thing going on between the two clubs. And certainly I hope someday we catch them, and that’s our goal. But let’s not kid anybody. We knew what we were getting into this year.”
To be fair, Zduriencik has maintained from the start of spring training that his team is in rebuilding mode and it would play young players.
“I don’t think there was a point in time where we said anything where we were misleading anybody. We were here trying to build this club, build this foundation, get young kids up here to play, and take the lumps and bumps as they come,” he said. “I said from the get-go that this would be a year of streaks. We’d see some really good things and we’d see some things where we stubbed our toe.’’email@example.com 253-597-8483 blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish