I don’t say this often, but today Jack Zduriencik got it about as right as he could have, albeit in a way that no one was predicting.
As the facilitator for the David Price trade to Detroit, Seattle managed to acquire Austin Jackson, who even in a relatively speaking down year (.270/.330/.397) is an above-average center fielder. In exchange, the front office finally made the move expected of them since December: Nick Franklin is gone and will join the Rays.
Earlier in the day, the M’s made a subtler move, selling low on Abraham Almonte when they sent him and AAA reliever Stephen Kohlscheen to San Diego for another outfielder: Chris Denorfia (.242/.293/.319).
Unless we get news of another deal that Jack got in just before the 4 pm ET deadline, this means that the back end of the rotation was not addressed.
But these two trades probably make more sense than giving up even one of Taijuan Walker or James Paxton as the focal point of a package for David Price, considering that Franklin would have had a hard time making the 25-man roster anytime in the foreseeable future.
But while neither acquisition will be available tonight at Progressive Field, the question must be asked: what will the Mariners roster look like once Denorfia and Jackson join the team?
First and foremost, it means that we have seen the end of Stefen Romero until the September roster expansion. Lloyd McClendon hasn’t played the rookie for a full game since July 24, and considering that he’s hitting .196/.236/.310, it is about time that he takes at least a month to iron things out in Tacoma.
Endy Chavez will be the likely casualty to make room for Denorfia. It is worth noting that Chavez has a higher BA and SLG overall, but each stat of Denorfia’s slash line goes up 10-20 points against lefties, while Chavez is hitting a downright silly 1 for 25 when facing southpaws.
There is an outside shot that James Jones will be given a few weeks to recover from his recent struggles and work on what I expect to be a move to right field, given his -0.8 defensive WAR versus Jackson’s 0.4 dWAR, but Chavez is the more likely candidate, especially given his recent finger injury.
The larger issue, though will be the choice to send down Ackley or Denorfia once Michael Saunders comes back from the DL.
Ackley acutally has better numbers against lefties (.289/.297/.400), so it’s possible that Denorfia’s tenure in Seattle will include a couple weeks in Tacoma from the time that the Condor returns in mid-August until the end of the month.
If a setback does come to pass in Saunders’ recovery, though, this a move that at least provides platoon depth for as long as need be.
While Seattle may not have made the flashiest moves in the league (that title belongs to the increasingly annoying Oakland Athletics) or even in the major trade in which they took part, Jack Zduriencik did himself proud by improving the team in an area of need without overpaying the way the Cardinals did for John Lackey.
By inserting competency into what was Stefen Romero’s wasted roster spot, maybe the Mariners will be able to hit the magical four run mark (they are 39-10 when the offense reaches that pedestrian level of production) a little more often in August and September than they did in a disappointing July and take the second wild card spot back down the stretch.