I think it’s pretty clear that the Mariners need to upgrade third base. It’s currently their biggest weakness, and the need to upgrade this offense is still there, even after the addition of Jesus Montero. The problem is that there just isn’t anyone available.
The best Free Agent available still is Wilson Betemit, and while he can hit, he is pretty much the worst defensive third baseman in baseball. All the other options available via free agency aren’t really an upgrade over the Chone Figgins/Kyle Seager duo the M’s currently have.
That means that in order to upgrade the position, the Jack Zdurencik will have to engineer a trade. The best available player, Pablo Sandoval, is no longer available since he finally received a contract extension from the Giants. After that there is no obvious player available. Zdurencik is going to have to pull off a completely unexpected trade similar to his acquisition of Brendan Ryan a year ago.
So after digging through the rosters of almost every single major league team, I think I’ve found a player that Zdurencik could target that would make me happy to have on the Mariners. The player I’m referring to Daniel Murphy of the Mets. The Mets have been struggling to find Murphy playing time because he’s trapped behind David Wright, having to play him in the outfield at times just to get him at bats. The Mets also really need pitching, so the M’s have what it takes to get this deal done, but it will take a lot to pry him away from the Mets.
At 27, Murphy is young to continue improving. In 2011, Murphy posted a .350 wOBA and and 124 wRC+ so clearly he can hit. On the defensive side, he’s plenty good enough, posting positive UZR values at 1B, 2B and 3B. His UZR/150 at third was 6.3, but there’s a small sample size warning there.
In my mind, Murphy is one of the truly good young players at the position in all a baseball. Obtaining him wont be cheap. What type of package would it take? I’m not sure. Kyle Seager would almost certainly be in any package. A Short stop like Carlos Triunfel might also be enticing, but the true lure of a deal here would have to be MLB ready pitching. Jason Vargas could be dangled out there, and possible a young pitcher like Hector Noesi, Charlie Furbush, Erasmo Ramirez or Forrest Snow.