Four weeks ago, it seemed that the Mariners would have a relatively easy time finding an upgrade at shortstop. Whether they would actually pull the trigger was another story entirely, but with Chicago and Tampa Bay 7.5 and 10.0 games out of the Wild Card, respectively, Alexei Ramirez and Ben Zobrist were both ideal and available.
Fast forward to the present, though, and both are reportedly off the market, leaving Seattle with a bunch of bad options at the position. Of course, the Rays have gone on the well-documented run and enter a day off in July 31 sitting only two games under .500. While Andrew Friedman might listen to offers both for Zobrist and ace David Price, it would take someone vastly overpaying (and likely with MLB-ready talent as well) for either to move later today.
The White Sox, though getting less coverage than the Marlins and currently sporting five pitchers on the active roster with a negative WAR, have managed to stay aloft on a combination of Chris Sale domination, Jose Abreu power, and Jose Quintana (sporting a 3.15 ERA and a sub-3.00 FIP) surprise. At 52-56 (6.5 GB in the Wild Card), a run to October would be a huge surprise for the South Siders, but Ken Williams and Rick Hahn seem willing to wait out the season and not cash out for anything resembling a reasonable price on their 32-year old shortstop who is hitting .290/.317/.495, marks that he may well not reach again in the last two years of his contract.
So, where does this leave Seattle in terms of finding a new double play partner for Cano? Nowhere good. The best option at this point is renting Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera (.249/.308/.390), but if he goes anywhere, Jon Morosi (FOX Sports) reports that San Francisco and Toronto are the most likely suitors. After Cabrera, though, are “gems” like Stephen Drew, who at best would be a slight upgrade over Brad Miller in the field for a team that already plays stellar defense.
Otherwise, the M’s will have to just be content with a combination of Miller, who after a nice June has gone back under the Mendoza line in July (.182 BA this month), and Chris Taylor, who has as good a chance of impacting the team in the style of Abraham Almonte (remember him?) as that of James Jones. Willie Bloomquist (.643 OPS) will come back in a week or two, but he is no contending team’s starting anything.
All in all, though, Jack Zduriencik should settle for what he has and pursue other needs such as the outfield or starting depth. If the Rays and White Sox had just gone in the toilet and stayed there like we all expected at the end of June, Seattle would have been in business. As it stands, the M’s are more likely to get passed by one of those teams than poach their shortstops.