It seems odd to talk about the trade deadline in the midst of a season-high eight-game winning streak. But the deadline is coming on July 31, regardless of how the Mariners aredoing.
Right now, the Mariners are still 8.5 games back in the wild card standings. There are two spots, but five teams, including three really good teams - Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Texas - ahead of them. Not to be a downer, but making the playoffs will be difficult, if not impossible.
Could it happen? Mathematically, it's possible. Logically, it's sort of possible. Then again, mathematically, there's a chance I could win the Powerball. And logically, there's an outside chance Stana Katic might date me.
A few days ago, I posted a story about general manager Jack Zduriencik saying he would not be aggressive at the trade deadline, but that he would listen to offers.
Of course, the quotes from that story came when Zduriencik met with writers before the all-star break. Since then the Mariners have reeled off the eight wins.
Does that change Zduriencik's philosophy? Not completely. Part of Zduriencik's job is listen to offers. He may not be actively shopping his players. But he still can't just ignore possible trade scenarios. It's simply bad business if he does.
Eric Wedge kind of re-iterated the situation on Sunday in Houston.
"Jack and I have already talked about this," Wedge said. "Unless it’s something that raises the bar, I don’t think we’re going to do anything. We’re not going to move somebody just to move somebody. Unless it’s something we feel like, again, it raises the bar -- which, depending on the team and their situation, it can happen; you don’t ever count on that happening. If not, we stand pat. We got a good group of guys out there. It’s fun to watch them come to the ballpark every day right now."
So Wedge isn't saying he doesn't want to not trade anyone, but if it's a really good deal that helps the future of this organization, then the Mariners should and will do it.
In many people's eyes, Seattle should be automatic sellers based on their position in the standings. But most of those same people thought the Mariners should trade Felix Hernandez to the Yankees and Red Sox for the last five years.
Still, it's weird situation Zduriencik finds himself in.
As I wrote in the story ... .
Zduriencik is in an odd position. He’s in the final year of his contract, and no extension has been announced. Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln and team president Chuck Armstrong could be using the second half of the season to determine Zduriencik’s fate.
That leaves Zduriencik trying to determine whether to make a trade that would help the team in the future or hang on to players that could help the Mariners salvage the second half of the season.
How much does a record near or just over .500 mean to Zduriencik? To the fans? To the ownership?The Mariners are playing good baseball now. I highly doubt they will trade Kendrys Morales or Raul Ibanez, though both have value. But there are lesser deals they can make that won't completely disrupt what's going on the field and still possibly help them for next season and beyond.
Here's a look at the candidates.
Kendrys Morales, DH/1B -- As I wrote in the story, I just don't see the Mariners trading Morales. He's a presence in the middle of the line-up that makes Kyle Seager's life much easier. Also because of the ability to tender Morales a one-year contract for about $14 million for next season or getting a compensatory first-round pick if he signs as a free agent with someone else, the value received in a trade wouldn't be as great. Now that could change if players from the Biogenesis scandal start getting suspended
Raul Ibanez, OF -- There are plenty of teams that would like to have the 41-year-old Ibanez. Pittsburgh could use a lefty bat. Cincinnati could use outfield help. Plenty of AL East teams would also gladly welcome him. But is the value received going to equal the value Ibanez has to the organization as an every day player and clubhouse presence. He doesn't seem to want to leave. But an injury to a starting outfielder or DH in the next week could really push Ibanez's value up.
Oliver Perez, LHP -- He's been the Mariners best reliever this season. He get out righties and lefties equally and has pitched in save situations as well as shown the ability to pitch multiple innings. He has a 1.98 ERA in 39 appearances. With teams like the Tigers and now possible the Pirates with the injury to Jason Grilli, desperate for relief help, Perez would be a very attractive addition.
Joe Saunders, LHP -- Saunders improved to 9-8 with the win in Houston. Over his last nine starts, he's 6-3 with a 2.77 ERA (17 runs in 55 1/3 innings), averaging just over six innings per start. If you remove the awful home start against Pittsburgh on where he made it just 1 2/3 innings, giving up six runs, his ERA is 1.84 over that time. He's not overpowering or dominant, but you know he will keep you in games and won't kill your bullpen. He could be a good No. 4 or 5 starter for a team down the stretch.
Wait and see
Michael Morse, OF/DH -- Morse homered in his first at-bat of his rehab assignment. He's three or four days from returning. Right now his trade value is waning. But it would only take a few hot games to pick it up. Never underestimate the desperation for a team in need of offense. Morse will likely be placed on waivers anyway, and a team may claim and the Mariners could try and work a trade post deadline.
Some value, minimal return
Brendan Ryan, SS -- Yes, he can't hit. I've been reminded of that about on Twitter so much that if I had a dollar for every time, I'd be making what Ryan Braun is losing this season. But Brendan Ryan can pick it at shortstop. And that has value. Would the return be huge? No. But he's not part of your future, so it's a logical move.
Jason Bay, OF -- He's a bench player now. But teams need bench players. I doubt there's a huge demand for him. But you never know. The Mariners outfield could get crowded when Franklin Gutierrez gets healthy (I can't believe I typed that) and Morse comes back. The team likes Bay. He's low maintenance and good in the clubhouse.
Aaron Harang,RHP -- Say what you want about the big right-hander, he hasn't been as bad as you think this season. Sure there have been some awful games and better in others. He's 5-8 with 5.06 ERA. But he's been good against NL teams and the Astros (a former NL team) this season. A NL team might take a flier on them if they were desperate.
Endy Chavez, OF -- A bench player for a team. Chavez's value is his ability to play all three outfield positions and his speed. He's been a big contributor for the Mariners this season with the Gutierrez injury fiasco.