I think it has become apparent that I am a big fan of trade rumors and offseason speculation. I have written numerous articles about players the Mariners could or should target and it is one of my favorite topics.
There have been a lot of rumors lately about who the Mariners may target, and some of them have been confirmed by the organization itself. Obviously most of this is just speculation and often turns out to be exaggerated, but it is still exciting nonetheless. So, here are some of the rumors that have bounced around lately.
There have been numerous reports of the Mariner’s interest in free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton. It started out as speculation due to the team’s horrible offense, but the intensity has grown since then.
President Chuck Armstrong then confirmed the interest by saying:
“[GM Jack Zduriencik] is looking at it. We are going to have more money to spend. And we do need offense.”
That kind of confirmation is always a good sign, especially out of a Mariners organization that is usually pretty hard to read in these situations. I don’t doubt that the M’s are in on Hamilton, but its never a sure thing. Everyone is “looking at it”.
I just worry that we may be showing too much interest, which can drive up the price quickly. Hamilton is a great player, but I tend to have a more conservative approach when it comes to him. He comes with a lot of risk, but also extremely high reward. He is almost a lock to miss 25 games, and the drug history is a little sketchy as well. Who knows what his actual bodily age is after the abuse it went threw.
All that being said, I would love Josh here, at the right price. He is one of my favorite players, and one of the better players in the league. He can give you a .370+ wOBA and 130+ wRC+ a year. I am just weary of giving him more than 5 years, $115 million. The money is the lesser of the issues to me though. If we have the money, let’s spend it. But the idea of a 37 year old player making $23-$25 million for the year is a scary thought to me.
The Swisher rumors haven’t been as prevalent as the ones for Hamilton, but they are there. However, there hasnt been a confirmation from the organization like there was with Josh.
To me, though, that’s just a matter of circumstance. Hamilton is a bigger name than Swisher, and because of that, everything else goes out the window. The article above made a good reference to this as well, saying that it would have been better for the Swisher rumor to come out before the Hamilton rumor, but a rumor is a rumor. At least it exists, however small.
Whether you prefer Hamilton or Swisher really depends on what you value. Swisher is the lesser player, and I won’t pretend he isn’t. But Josh also comes with much more risk, and I won’t pretend that isn’t true either. With Swisher, you can pretty much pencil in a .360 wOBA and 120 wRC+ with 20-25 homers and solid defense in right field. Still very good, but not at Josh’s level. However, are you looking for a little less potential in the form of more consistency at a lower price? Or do you want to go all out and take on the risk with the possibility of an MVP performance at a much higher price.
I personally prefer Swisher, IF both players are paid what they should be. If Swisher comes $8+ million a year cheaper, I prefer him over Josh all day. But if the price difference starts getting much lower, or Swish gets overpayed, say $18M for Swisher and $24M for Hamilton, for 5 years, then I prefer Josh. Like I said, it comes down to your values.
Per MLB Trade Rumors:
The Mariners covet Billy Butler and would conceivably part with young, high-end pitching to acquire him. Butler is under contract through 2014 with a club option for 2015, though the Royals are unsure if they have enough offense to move him right now.
This is the newest rumor, and simultaneously the older rumor we have heard. There was a report during the season that we made calls on Butler, but nothing came from it. That rumor has since resurfaced however, and Ken Rosenthal reports that we are enamored with Butler.
Now, I am sure most teams are. Theres a lot to like about a .337 wOBA, 140 wRC+ player. But the fact that we were singled out makes it a little more intriguing. There is a definite match between the Ms and Kansas City.
While Butler is a great hitter, and his bat would be a great addition to this team, he doesn’t quite have a spot here, position wise. It looks as though Jesus Montero is our DH, and Justin Smoak may be back for another go at 1st. I don’t have a huge problem with dumping Smoak, and he might be a piece in a trade for Butler. But Billy is a lousy 1s baseman, and despite what we like to think, Montero has no experience there, and may not be capable of handling it.
I wouldn’t be opposed to a Erasmo Ramirez/Brandon Maurer, Jason Vargas and Smoak trade for Butler and Feliple Paulino or something, but I get the feeling one of the Big 3 will have to be involved. That may be where I draw the line though. I’m not sure that a DH only who forces another DH only to play first, and the team to give up on Smoak, is worth that much. His bat certainly would be, if he could play a position.It hurts me to say that because Butler is probably my favorite non Mariner, along with Troy Tulowitzki.
There is also the possibility that Montero gets moved to allow Butler to DH, but I hope that’s not the case. I think we need to add to what we have, not trade away a player who could be very similar to Butler. I would consider Paxton and Montero for Butler and Wil Myers, but that’s about it. I am not a fan of addition by subtraction and such. We need to add Montero, Ackley and Seager, not replace them.
One thing we know for sure is that if the front office is serious about Butler, then they have thought about this. They either have faith in Montero at 1st, or plan to trade him and get some value back. I don’t see GMZ making a reaction move and just dumping Montero because we have Butler. He knows we need to add, not replace.
In the end, my opinion is Swisher>Hamilton>Butler in terms of value to the team. All things considered, thats the order I would want them in. I like Butler better than Hamilton in most aspects, except defense. He just doesn’t have a spot without making some moves that might not be smart. I like that he is 5 years younger, $100 million cheaper, and a right handed bat. But I don’t love having to move Smoak or Montero, and think outfield needs to be upgraded first and foremost.
My ultimate dream would be Swisher and Butler, but that seems a tad too good to be true. But who knows, I trust Jack, and he knows he needs to make a move to get this team to success. We have the money, and could come out of both those moves with a payroll under last years, and leave room to sign another starting pitcher like Brandon McCarthy or Edwin Jackson, if they are willing to get closer to a $90 million payroll. $14M for Swisher, $8M for Butler, $10M for McCarthy/Jackson, and minus the $6-7M to Vargas puts us right in that range.