September 27, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon (4) at bat against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Final List of possible targets


I have done multiple posts dedicated to talking about ways to improve the offense this season. Even though it may seem redundant at times, I think it is so important that we really need to analyze all the options and decide who is the best of them.

There are two ways to go about this issue. Spend some big bucks and go after a free agent, or try to acquire someone through trade. There are pros and cons to both of these routes, as well as pros and cons for each player that we will consider. That is what this article will be about. Weighing all the options in an effort to see who best fits the needs of this team.

Pros and cons to free agency:

Pros:

  • Don’t have to give up any players/prospects who could help the team in the future. This is something that is always hard and scary to do. You never want to have to give up your future.
  • You know the player is interested. If they choose to sign with you, it means they wanted to play for your team. There are times where players who are traded become unhappy and don’t want to play for their new team.
  • Josh Hamilton. He is the best player available in free agency, and maybe overall. He could be an instant fix.

Cons:

  • Less to choose from. There are only so many free agents out there, and sometimes you end up settling for whatever you can get.
  • Inflated prices. Players always get over-payed because so many teams are interested in their services. To get the top notch guys, you really have to open up your pockets, and be okay with spending a little more than you would like. Free agents can cripple a franchise.

The pros and cons for trading are basically the inverse of what it says above. You get a bigger selection of players, and can get the players that you really want (with some exceptions). You also save money, at least in the options that I am going to talk about. Most players on the trade market have already re-signed long term to more team friendly contracts. On the flip side, you have to give up prospects or current players in order to get who you want. You can overpay with players just as easily as you can with money.

Bottom line, you have to evaluate what you are getting, as well as what you are giving up, and decide whether the trade will help your team or not. All that being said, here are my (final) top 5 targets for this offseason.

Oct 5, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton (32) warms up before the game against the Baltimore Orioles in the 2012 American League wild card playoff game at Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Free Agent Options:

Josh Hamilton, 31. Expected contract: 5 years/$100 million

2012 stats: .285/.354/.577 — .387 wOBA — 140 wRC+ — 43 HR

Overall, Hamilton isn’t my favorite choice, but not my least favorite either. He is the best player available, but he also carries the most risk. As great as he is, there are concerns of how well is body will hold up long term. But a .387 wOBA and 43 dingers could bring this offense to a whole new level. I think I would be willing to go 5/100 for him, but anymore than that, both in years and dollars, would be too much for the risk involved. I would go hard at 4/80, but if that doesn’t get it done, and there are no better options out there, then 5/100 would be fine with me. I just don’t want us to get too desperate and make a mistake here.

Nick Swisher, 32. Expected contract: 4 year/$56 million

Oct 18, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher (33) at bat in front of Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird (9) during game four of the 2012 ALCS at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

2012 stats: .272/.364/.473 — .363 wOBA — 128 wRC+ — 24 HR

Swisher went from my favorite option, to my least favorite option, to somewhere in the middle. I started campaigning for him in August, and wanted us to go after him as hard as we could. Then he came out asking for a contract comparable to Jayson Werth‘s 7/126, and that desire went away quickly. But now, Fangraphs (which is where the expected contracts are from) is predicting him to get a 4/56 deal, and I’m right back on the bandwagon. Swisher may be one of the most consistent, underrated players in the game. He puts up 4 WAR year in and year out, thanks to his ability to get on base, solid power, and plus defense in right field. There is still a little risk here though, as Swisher would be 35 at the end of the contract. However, his lack of injury history and ability to move to 1st if necessary makes him a fairly safe bet. I would be ecstatic if we were to sign Swisher to a deal like this, and would probably be okay with 5/70 as well.

 

 

Trade Targets:

Billy Butler, 26. Expected Trade Cost: James Paxton, Jason Vargas and Justin Smoak

September 27, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler (16) hits a home run during the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

 

2012 stats: .313/.373/.510 — .377 wOBA — 140 wRC+ — 29 HR

You guys may know how much I love Billy Butler. He is probably my favorite non-Mariner, and I would love to have him here. He consistently puts up great numbers, and is signed fairly long term. Plus, the Royals said they are open to trading him for pitching. Only problem is, he is a DH/part time 1st baseman, and we are pretty full in that area. If you want to give up on Smoak and think Montero can play 1st, then by all means bring him in. But if you are like me and would rather upgrade RF, then this trade doesn’t make a ton of sense. We would be upgrading 1st, but leaving our biggest hole to a mediocre platoon of Casper Wells and Eric Thames. I am not suggesting we will upgrade both spots, but I think I would rather leave 1B as is, and give Smoak one last shot. He will be better than Casper and Thames in my opinion. Plus, we have Zunino on his way, which would move Montero or Jaso to 1st if Smoak can’t hack it.

All that being said, Butler is an animal. If we can trade for him, and sign RF to upgrade over the platoon, then I’m all for it. But if it’s one or the other then sadly, I say no Butler.

 

 

Sep. 29, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton (10) stands at bat during the game against the Chicago Cubs in the first inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

Justin Upton, 25. Expected Trade Cost: Nick Franklin and James Paxton

2012 stats: .280/.355/.430 — .341 wOBA — 108 wRC+ — 17 HR — 2.5 WAR

I really don’t know what to think about Upton. He is the most talented player of the group, but he is also the least proven. He could very easily become an MVP, but he could also turn out to just be a good player. He had a very underwhelming year after putting up MVP caliber numbers in 2011. However, I don’t doubt that he could return to form in the future. What scares me is the awful home/road splits. He is a career .320 wOBA, 90 wRC+ hitter on the road, compared to .399/143 at hitter friendly Chase Field. If he is an average hitter overall on the road, what will he be playing half his games at Safeco? He will no longer have the 80 point bump in wOBA or 50 point bump in wRC+ that makes his stats what they are. I don’t think there is a logical argument that says he will hit anywhere near as well as he does in Chase if he moves to Safeco. Even if he hits slightly above average at Safeco (which I don’t think is logical), then he is still only a .335 wOBA, 105 wRC+ guy. To me, that is not worth Franklin and Paxton.

I want to love Upton. He is so talented and has the chance to become an amazing player. But right now, I don’t love him. I get the feeling that he would come to Seattle and be exposed. He would have to prove he can hit outside of Chase, and he hasn’t done that. I wouldn’t be totally opposed to bringing him in, but I’m certainly not hoping for it. Not at the current price.

 

Alex Gordon, 29. Expected Trade Cost: James Paxton/Danny Hultzen, Brad Millerand Jason Vargas

September 14, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon (4) drives the ball to left field against the Los Angeles Angels during the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

2012 stats: .294/.368/.455 — .357 wOBA — 126 wRC+ — 14 HR — 5.9 WAR

Gordon is by far my favorite option. He is the most complete player out of all the players I have named, as seen with his 5.9 WAR. On top of what you see above, he led the league in doubles with 51. However, all of this makes him the most expensive player in terms of what we would trade in return. Although the Royals said they would deal him for pitching, they probably had a proven, #2 type starter in mind. That’s not to say they wouldn’t consider anything else, but I don’t think it’s likely. The trade I mentioned above might not get it done, but I’m not sure I want to give up much more. He is a great player and I really want him here. Who wouldn’t want a 6 WAR player with gold glove defense in left field? But there is a point where no one is worth what it would actually cost.

If Dayton Moore is desperate enough for pitching, he may be willing to trade his best player for a mid-rotation starter in Vargas, a future #2-3 starter in Hultzen, and what could become a very good middle infielder in the future in Brad Miller, knowing he has plenty of offense. However I wouldn’t say it is likely. Taijuan Walker might have to be involved, and I hate to lose him. But if they would take Walker for Gordon straight up, I would do it.

 

In conclusion, the Mariners need offense. There are many different routes they could take to get it, but to me, these make the most sense. And despite what we may think, the front office knows that too. Now it’s just up to the front office to do their job, and evaluate what is out there, and decide what we need to do to win ball games.

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Tags: Alex Gordon Josh Hamilton Justin Upton Nick Swisher Seattle Mariners

  • maqman

    If we could get Hamilton for 5/$100MM I’d be willing to go that far as he is the only true MOTO available. He’s going to cost more than that, maybe 6/$150MM. There’s a lot of new money in the game and prices are going up this off-season. Butler, no thanks, he’s just increases our positional problems. Upton, no thanks, he will wilt in Safeco. Swisher will get more than he is worth. Gordon would be a good get but not at the price you are willing to pay in talent. Vargas, Hultzen, Harris and one of Capps or Pryor, or Furbush or Ruffin.

    • JJ Allen Keller

      I don’t think there is any way he gets 6/150, and most other people don’t either. There is not a big market for him. That’s 25 a year.
      I don’t see Swisher getting too much either. The big market teams aren’t probably in. I think Swish could get as much as 5/80, but that’s the most.

      As for Gordon, he is a 6 war player. And I’m sure that what you are offering is much less than what i said. And who is Harris?

      • maqman

        Sorry, I meant Brad Miller, not Harris. I’m at the semi-senile stage of my life, can’t remember what I had for breakfast. What I was trying to point out is that I think you would surrender too much for Gordon, although I grant he would be a good get. The Dodgers, Rangers, Red Sox and maybe even the Yankees or Braves could be in on Hamilton and whoever gets him will pay more than 5/$100MM. Remember that Pujols and Fielder both got over $200MM last off-season and there’s a lot of new money in the game now. He’ll get closer to 6/$150MM than 5/$100MM and may get even more.

        • JJ Allen Keller

          Yankees are trying to lower payroll. I think as much as 5/110 or 6/130, but not much more than that. They would be stupid to do so.

          • maqman

            Today SI says he’s looking for 7/$175MM. Somebody might give it to him but I think 6/$150MM is more realistic. Boras is already talking about the extra $25MM every team will get in 2014 from the new national media contracts. GMZ has done a fine job of signing Iwakuma and Perez to contracts that will seem like bargains by the time spring training rolls around.

          • JJ Allen Keller

            Doesnt matter what he wants. He wont get it if no one wants to give it to him

          • Aaron Somers

            New York won’t go anywhere near Hamilton unless he suddenly is willing to take a two year deal for less than $50 Million (which is highly unlikely and if he were, wouldn’t he just return to Texas for such an amount?).

      • mat

        Wow, first it’s 100M for swisher in another post, then its 4/56M (above), now its 5/80m You are all over the place.

        • JJ Allen Keller

          He was asking for a ton, and there hadnt been many indications to say otherwise. I just go by what I hear.
          And in the comment above, I said that’s the most I could see him getting, not what I think he will get. Read a little more carefully, and try to be a little less condescending to others when you haven’t given any opinion/reasoning to the conversation.

        • JJ Allen Keller

          No one really knows what people will get, so lets not pretend they do. I guarantee if you were to predict contracts it wouldn’t be very exact either.

    • Matthias_Kullowatz

      I think he gets something between the 5/100 and 7/175. Mathematically, that would be about 6/135. At that price, the M’s would be sacrificing a lot of future flexibility for a 31-year old that hasn’t played 150 games since 2008.

      Generally the formula that seems to win involves diversifying that $22.5M into a few players. But if those players aren’t available, then why not? I guess?

  • http://twitter.com/wadesawkins wade sawkins

    How about we bring back Michael Morse. The Nats are going to sign Michael Bourn for CF and have Harper and Werth for the others. He would give us LF/1B/DH. But what does WASH need? Another one i was thinking is Josh Rutledge from Colorado. Good young SS behind Tulo and the Rockies need pitching.

    If by the end of the winter we have not made many moves, maybe bring in Travis Hafner on an incentive deal if he is still available. I know he is 35 but he still carries a bit of pop.

    How about a different approach, if we can afford Zach Grieke then we can make more pitching available for trades. That would be the best way to upgrade our offense.

    • JJ Allen Keller

      Ive thought a lot about Morse. Only problem to me is his contract, or lack there of. Would have to be contigent on him resigning with us.

      And if they dont get Bourn of Upton, they might keep him.

      Plus, it looks like LaRoche may not be back in DC, so they could move him to first.

      I would love it if he would agree to a 3 year deal, but it doesnt look like LaRoche will be back unfortunately

      • Aaron Somers

        Morse will be a free agent after the 2013 season, so yes, resigning him would need to be factored in should the Mariners (or any other team) make a deal to acquire him. His fate, however, is more tied to LaRoche than it is to Bourn. If LaRoche signs elsewhere, Morse and Tyler Moore become the Nationals’ two most likely options at first base. The other will see time in left field.

        That said, I don’t imagine that the Mariners would need to part with an exhorbitant haul in order to acquire him. Washington doesn’t have any obviously pressing needs (at least not that Seattle could fill) so we’re probably looking at a package of two to three prospects in order to make a deal work (and I’m not talking from the Paxton/Hultzen/Walker group).