The following is part of a series of posts that will be going up as the Trade Deadline approaches on July 31st. I will be outlining the different players who may be on their way out of Seattle at or before the deadline. The Mariners figure to be sellers, and have more than their fair share of short-term players who make prime trade candidates, as the Mariners continue to try to build for the future. These are not necessarily tied to rumors, and are instead based on general feeling that they could be moved. Specific rumors/trade talks will be discussed separately.
In this MTD post, I will discuss arguably the most talked about trade candidates for the Mariners. That being the power bats that the M’s came across during this offseason, but may not be essential to the team going forward, both because they are all on one-year deals, and because they will likely not contend this year.
While not to long ago it seemed almost certain that at least one, if not more, of the three guys in question would be moved by the deadline. The M’s were well out of any race, and it seemed like they would easily be able to pull in more value through trade than they would get from them in the last two months of the year.
But now, with the recent 7 game winning streak the Mariners had, the outlook for the rest of the season has changed a little bit. There is no guarantee that the M’s will now opt to buy rather than sell, but the chances are much higher than they were before. They are just 5 games under .500, and if they keep up this level of play, they could be in a position for a wild card race.
However, the likelihood of them keeping this up enough to really compete this season is unlikely, so that leaves a chance that moves are made.
We will start with Morales, who would probably be able to fetch the most in a trade. He has had his ups and downs this year, but his overall numbers look solid. He currently owns an .807 OPS, and 123 wRC+ on the season with 15 home runs and a 1.5 fWAR.
The 123 wRC+ ranks 10th in the league among 1st baseman, so he can be an upgrade to a team there, provided he can also DH a few times a week (he is 5th in the league in wRC+ among qualified DHs). I doubt any team will trust him as an every day first baseman and he suffered some nagging injuries when he had to do that with Seattle.
All that being said, his value is a little bit of a question. He is a solid bat to have, but he isn’t exactly a lineup anchor. Then there is the fact that he is pretty much a DH or part-time first baseman only, which also brings his worth down a notch.
He is of use to only a select few teams — American League teams in need of a DH. There is little chance any other team shows much interest, because they will not trust him as an every day player in the field. That limits the chance of a bidding war breaking out (as if it was even likely in the first place) which also doesn’t bode well for the Mariners.
And then there is the fact that the team will likely want to bring Morales back next year, likely starting with a qualifying offer to decrease the interest of other teams who will have to give up their pick if they sign Morales.
All of these things point to the Mariners keeping Morales around and trying to re-sign him for next year and beyond. If someone comes along and makes Jack an offer he can’t refuse, then maybe he is moved. But I doubt he will be shopped heavily.
Next up is Raul Ibanez, who has defied expectations all year and actually become a positive contributor on offense. He has posted a .262/.315/.561 line, with a ridiculous 24 home runs.
I don’t think anyone expected that kind of production. Many were higher on him than I was (Hint: I didn’t like him at all), but few expected him to create 39% more runs than league average.
And I am sure there would be a lot of teams interested in that kind of left handed pop, especially when it comes with veteran leadership and playoff experience. The problem is, I don’t think its’s reasonable to think he puts up second half numbers that resemble that of his first half. He could, but it seems a little unlikely.
On top of that, few teams will be excited about having one of, if not the worst defender in the league in left field every day. If that is true, he is limited to a team who can put him at DH consistently and limit the damage caused by Raul playing in the field everyday.
Then perhaps the biggest factor is that the Mariners will not want to trade Raul, and he probably doesn’t want to leave. For whatever reason, the organization seems to be very high on him, both on and off the field. It would be a huge blow to the team and the fan base if he were traded, especially if it means getting a nobody prospect in return.
It is safe to say Raul isn’t going anywhere. I just hope he finishes out the year, and then retires or goes elsewhere. He isn’t going to repeat this performance.
Lastly, there is Michael Morse. Morse got off to a hot start to the season, but has faltered since then, while battling injuries. He has been on the DL since the end of June, and just now began a rehab stint in Tacoma.
To this point in the year, he has hit .251/.313/.454 with 11 home runs in 56 games. 8 of those home runs came in April, and he hasn’t hit one since May, when he had three for the month. Nagging injuries have likely played a part in his struggles, but I also think he just isn’t quite as good as we had hoped.
Because of his lack of a position and future with the team, he is the most disposable, and in turn most likely trade candidate of the three. However, if he doesn’t get back on the field and show that he is healthy and productive, no one will want to take the risk of trading for him.
He may be a waiver trade candidate in August if the team feels they can do without him and he plays well enough (and often enough) to garner some interest and up his value. Right now, in the off chance he is moved before the deadline, he probably wouldn’t bring back much either.
Overall, it doesn’t look like any of the three will be moving unless some drastic changes occur in the coming days. The team has been successful lately, and Jack hasn’t shown signs of wanting to sell. They will probably end up staying put for the most part and seeing how far this team and its mix of young and old talent can go in the second half. The playoffs are unlikely, but even a .500 finish looks a lot better than giving up on the season.