The anatomy of the 3-team trade: How the M’s can “buy” w/o selling the farm.
I keep reading blog post after blog post about the Mariners need to go get a bat, or 2, or 3. I can’t disagree. If the Mariners intend to stay in this division race they really need to add some offensive firepower. The problem with doing so is that the Mariners seem reluctant to derail their rebuilding efforts. You’re not going to see a boatload of prospects leave town to bring in the help that’s needed.
Because of this, the best bet is for the M’s to trade away a pitcher, specifically Erik Bedard. (I’m assuming he comes back after the all star break and has no lingering trouble with his knee injury) The problem you run into is that the teams that will want Bedard aren’t going to give up the hitters the Mariner’s need. But that’s where the 3-team trade comes in.
The M’s would send Bedard to someone who needs pitching (like the Yankees) who sends prospects to a third team (like the Astros) who in turn send the hitter (like Hunter Pence) back to Seattle. Simple right? Not quite.
The reason that Bedard is the likely pitcher to be traded is that his contract expires after this season. The reason that a hitter like Pence would be coveted by the Mariners is that he’s under contract for 2 years after this one. Not exactly an equal trade, so the likelihood that it would happen is exceedingly small.
The Mariners will still have to throw something in to make it work out. Luckily, acquiring a outfielder like Pence would officially block Mariner prospects like Carlos Peguero, Michael Saunders (not really a prospect anymore), Mike Carp, or even Greg Halman from ever earning consistent playing time, this makes them expendable. The M’s could easily throw in a pair, or even three of them, to even up the deal and not even notice.
So, in the end, the deal looks like this:
Mariners send Bedard and Halman to the Yankees, the Yankees send 2-3 prospects (likely including Montero) to the Astros, the Mariners send Peguero and Saunders to the Astros, the Astros send Pence to the Mariners.
Simple… or not… but it’s the most likely path for the Mariners to take if they manage to upgrade their offense.