Look we know the Mariners need a shorstop, unless some of you want to see Ronny Cedeno and his .174 batting average back in a Seattle uniform next season. The Mariners have few legitimate shortstop prospects in the minor leagues. Their best prospect Carlos Triunfel has missed most of the season with a broken leg and there was some speculation before the season that Triunfel might be projected as a third baseman or second baseman in the big leagues.
But what I'm wondering is whether they have to use Washburn as the trade bait to get a shortstop prospect or an established shortstop.
We've heard that the Mariners and Brewers are discussing a deal for Washburn, and the Mariners want SS prospect Alcides Escobar in return. But in all previous trade talks this season, Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin intimated that Escobar was off limits in trades. It was rumored to be a sticking point in the Roy Halladay trade talks.
Fox Sports' J.P. Morosi is saying that Escobar could possibly be available for Washburn AND Brandon Morrow. Which really would basically be swapping prospect for prospect since Washburn is a free agent.
Still, my gut feeling is the Brewers are still finding ways to avoid giving up Escobar - their top prospect according to Baseball America - for Washburn. Milwaukee doesn't seem to inclined to sign JJ Hardy to an extension. And giving up Escobar would then leave them without a shortstop after next season. The Mariners ostensibly could take Hardy instead of Escobar and use him as a rent-a-player for this season and next, and then either try to sign him, trade him before next season's trade deadline or even pick up the draft picks for when he leaves as a free agent.
The Mariners need a shortstop and the Brewers have two. It makes sense. But maybe Jack Zduriencik also has his eye on other players in the system, after all, he knows plenty about them. Their system took a bit of a hit when they traded 1B/OF Matt LaPorta, Rob Bryson, Zach Jackson and Michael Brantley to the Indians for CC Sabathia.
But they do have Escobar, 3B Mat Gamel rated No. 2 by Baseball America, who was also deemed off limits in most trade talks. There is also catcher/3B - but really just left-handed hitter - Brett Lawrie (pictured above), who played in the Futures Game and is the younger brother of UW standout fastpitch pitcher Danielle Lawrie and is their No. 3 prospect. There's infielder Taylor Green, who is listed as third baseman, but projects more as a second baseman. The Brewers also have a couple decent pitching prospects and outfield prospects out there as well, so perhaps a package of two prospects not including Escobar could be easier to get done.
I'm not saying the Mariners aren't asking for Escobar. I'm sure they are. But he may be off the table. Of course, Zduriencik is in the power position. Washburn has drawn interest from the Brewers, Phillies, Yankees and other teams that view Washburn as a fallback if they can't get Halladay or Cliff Lee. So Big Z can take his business elsewhere if he's not liking what he's hearing from the Brewers.
The only thing we also must remember is that the trade chips have dwindled to Washburn at this point. Bedard won't get much interest, Beltre is hurt as well - perhaps they could be dealt before the waiver trade deadline ends in August. And of course, Miguel Batista, another free agent, isn't worth a bag of used baseballs and a free haircut from Supercuts.