Another name has floated into the tornado of rumors surrounding the Mariners as the trade deadline approaches, but this one is a little different, and may surprise you. According to a report in the Beaver County Times, the Mariners are pursuing Pirates’ outfielder Starling Marte.
He is different because he isn’t nearing the end of his deal, he isn’t 30+, and he is neither a power hitter, nor a starting pitcher.
Instead, he is a defensive minded, young, controllable player with the offensive upside to be an All-Star caliber guy. Sounds like a pretty good target. Unfortunately, that means he 1) probably isn’t available and 2) if he is, he will not be cheap.
To this point in the year, Marte hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, with a .255/.328/.385 line, for a 105 wRC+ due to PNC Park having park factors that favor pitchers.
However, because of his defense and baserunning, he has still managed 1.8 fWAR, on pace for 3 WAR or better over a full season.
For his career, he has looked even better, with a 113 wRC+ and 4 WAR per 600 plate appearances.
That, along with the fact that he signed a 6 year, $31 million contract last season, and the fact that the Pirates are just 2.5 games out of the Central lead and therefore very much in the playoff race, are just more reasons why it seems a deal for Marte seems unlikely.
I personally would not hesitate to move Franklin or Taylor for Marte, but Walker would be a tougher sell. I think ultimately though, the only chance the Mariners would have to acquire Starling Marte would be if they put up a package including Taijuan Walker, which throws yet another wrench in what is already an unlikely match-up.
The M’s have been adamant that they want to keep Walker if possible, and I have to believe there are players they could get for a Walker package that they value higher than Marte, including David Price.
Starling Marte is a good young player, who figures to only get better. He would help this Mariners team, not only this year, but for the next few.
Unfortunately, replace “Mariners” with “Pirates” in the preceding sentence, and it remains true. That is usually a sign that a move is unlikely, and the M’s are probably just casting a wide a net as possible.