Including today, the Mariners have three days to make decisions on Jason Vargas, Brandon League, Kevein Millwood, Chone Figgins, and Brendan Ryan. Conceivably, the Mariners could have five roster spots to fill, two of which to be taken straight out of the starting rotation. Though moving all five is admittedly an unlikely scenario, both starting pitchers are likely destined to dawn different uniforms this August.
Thus far, the Red Sox, Tigers, Nationals, Orioles, Dodgers, Royals, Blue Jays, Cardinals, and Pirates have all said to expressed some form of interest in Jason Vargas. The Tigers and Pirates have recently satiated their pitching needs and are now likely out of the Vargas sweepstakes. I believe you can also wipe the Red Sox off the list, since “mild interest” isn’t going to cut it. I don’t believe the Dodgers will be heavily involved as well, so that leaves us with the Nationals, Orioles, Royals, Blue Jays, and Cardinals. Allen Craig, Nick Markakis, Billy Bulter, and Colby Rasmus obviously presents the best of the best the Mariners could hope to acquire. Some other targets could include, Chris Davis, Mark Reynolds, Travis Snider, Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, Matt Carpender, Tyler Moore, Danny Espinosa, and even Michael Morse. The first four players mentioned would likely present a 1-1 deal, perhaps with the Mariners even throwing in another piece, most of the second tier players would require a sweetening of the pot. Vargas is a hot commoditee and the Mariners know it, they are going to get value in return or he isn’t going to be dealt. That being said I give him a 75% chance of being moved, because even as desirable as he might be, teams aren’t playing it fast and loose like they used to.
The Mariners have put themselves in a potential win-win scenario however, as whoever loses out on Vargas, will likely throw their hat in the Millwood ring. Now Kevin obviously won’t demand the same return as Vargas, but bringing in a potential bench bat is completely within the realm of possibility. Also unlike Vargas, whom I have given a 75% chance of moving on, I give Millwood a 99% chance of finding a new home. The Mariners brought Millwood in for a singular purpose, produce for the first half. He was never meant to last the entire season with the club and a veteran innings eater is always of value down the stretch.
Assuming both Vargas and Millwood are moved, who could be expected fills their rotation slots? The mind immediately jumps to Ramirez and Noesi as both have served the major league club already, but I highly doubt both of them make the rotation as that would leave the team without the lefty. The Mariners have two options already entrenched with the big league club in Charilie Furbush and Oliver Perez. Both have starting backgrounds and both have experienced success this season. The Mariners may elect not to mess with success and instead choose a lefty farmhand. The popular option would be Danny Hultzen, and while I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mariners decide to promote their top pitching prospect, I also wouldn’t be surprised if GMZ concludes that he needs more seasoning in AAA until Septemeber. Less popular options include Steve Garrison and Mauricio Robles.
I’d give the club a less than a 40% chance of moving both Figgins and Ryan, and League is apparently on the move by close of business today. The big show is going to come from a Vargas or League deal. I would expect a lot of movement in the next coming days. The Mariners are still as tight lipped as possible, but the other teams aren’t as leak proof. That being said if their is one thing I have learned from this regime, expect the unexpected or the Mariners will surprise you.