The Mariners are desperate for bats according to several baseball reporters, and they are already in pursuit of three power hitting outfielders just a few days into 2013. These three players are Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Upton, and Andre Ethier, and Seattle is said to be in somewhat-serious talks concerning all three. Let’s look at how each player would fit in Seattle and what it would take to acquire each player.
Stanton in action. Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s start with Stanton. There is a lot to like about this young outfielder. He just turned 23 years old last November, and has already hit 93 homeruns in his career. There is not another young hitter in baseball that has his kind of power.
As a 22 year-old last year, he played in just 123 games but still hit 37 homeruns which ranked seventh in all of baseball. He also had the third highest OPS in baseball behind just Miguel Cabrera and Ryan Braun. Mike Trout was the only other player 24 years old or younger to reach 30 homeruns in 2012.
While this is quite bold, Giancarlo Stanton might possess once in a generation type power. Let’s compare him to Barry Bonds and Seattle’s own Ken Griffey Jr., both of whom started their historic major league careers at very young ages.
Here are the numbers from the first three seasons of each of their careers.
Ken Griffey Jr.
Due to past failures, many Mariner fans are afraid to invest in right-handed power hitters. However, I would not be concerned about the right-handed Stanton coming to Safeco Field for two reasons: 1) The fences are coming in which will help remedy the problem. 2) Mike Stanton has already succeeded in other bad hitters’ parks.
Sunlife Stadium, where he played his first two years, and Marlins Park, where he played last year, are both pitchers parks, but Stanton excelled anyway. In Marlins park, which measures 340 feet down the left field line, 384 to the left-center gap, and 420 to center field, he averaged a homerun every 15.4 at bats last season. There is no reason to worry about his ability to hit in Safeco Field.
Due to his young age and immense talent, there will be hefty price tag on Stanton, but the Mariners are one of just a few teams that have the farm system capable of pulling off such a deal. Bringing the Miami outfielder to Seattle would almost certainly require Taijuan Walker and several other top prospects. I am a big fan of Walker, but a ridiculous, and more importantly, a proven talent like Stanton is worth Walker.
In the past I have said that Stanton is one of just a couple guys in baseball I would even consider trading Felix for, and I don’t believe that Walker will ever be quite as successful as Felix, so it makes sense to concede Walker in this case.
Larry Stone predicted that a deal would require Walker, Hultzen, Franklin, Gabriel Guerrero, and rising star Kyle Seager. This seems like too much to me, mainly because of Seager’s involvement. If Seager could somehow be replaced with someone like Alex Liddi, Vinnie Catricala, or Stefen Romero, I would be pretty happy with the deal, although giving up Walker and Hultzen would be difficult.
A package of Walker, Paxton, Franklin, Liddi, and a few lesser prospects would be excellent for Seattle. JJ has some of his own expectations for what acquiring the 23 year-old would require, but only time will tell which expectation is most accurate.
Justin Upton. Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The next player that the Mariners are connected with in trade talks is Justin Upton. Surprise surprise. We made it just three days into 2013 before Justin Upton trade rumors resurfaced. At 25 years old, Upton is also immensely talented and is also better rounded than Stanton. Upton has legitimate 5-tool talent and could still be improving. However, he is not quite the dominating force on the baseball field that Stanton is and is also much less reliable.
In 2012 he hit 18 homeruns, stole 17 bases, and posted a triple slash of .280/.355/.430. His previous season was much more impressive when he accumulated 31 long balls, 21 stolen bases, and a line of .289/.369/.529.
However, these numbers have been aided by the hitter friendly Chase Field. Take a second to analyze Upton’s home/road split over the course of his career.
|Upton at Home||67||.307||.389||.548||.399||138||.241||17.2%|
|Upton on the Road||41||.250||.325||.406||.320||96||.157||10.4%|
Unlike Stanton, Upton has not had tremendous success in difficult hitters’ ballparks.
The price tag on Upton is a bit difficult to predict. Considering that Upton trade talks have brewed for years without a deal ever being completed, it seems fair to assume that Arizona has very high expectations for a return on the young outfielder.
A few months ago, it looked like Nick Franklin would be necessary in any deal with Arizona, but the three-way trade between Arizona, Cleveland, and Cincinnati that brought Didi Gregorius to Arizona eliminated their need for Franklin.
Taijuan Walker would likely be at the center of any deal and would be accompanied by other prospects such as Paxton, Maurer, or possibly still Franklin. A Potential package might look like Walker, Paxton, and Brad Miller. If a deal arises that excludes Walker and instead includes Hultzen, it would be far preferable.
Ethier. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
The final bat that the Mariners are said to be interested in is Andre Ethier of the Dodgers. At 30 years old, Ethier does not have the future of Stanton or Upton, and does not have their offensive stature either. Over the past three seasons, Ethier has averaged 18 homeruns per season with a slash line of .289/.361/.459. Currently, he has a decent bat, but he’s not a difference maker, and he certainly won’t swing an impact bat by 2015 or in the years after that when Seattle will hopefully be making runs into the playoffs. Trading for Ethier isn’t as practical for the future of Seattle.
The five years remaining on Ethier’s contract makes the Dodger outfielder less attractive as well. He will earn an average of 16.5 million per year until he is 35 years old. It was a bad contract for the Dodgers to agree to, and it would be an even worse contract for Seattle to take on.
It would seem unwise to bring in a 30 year-old player who they will have to give nearly 17 million for the next five years in exchange for average run production.
Although not as talented as other trade options, Ethier will also be less costly to trade for. It would probably take a top pitching prospect, but I would not surrender any more than James Paxton or Brandon Maurer in a one for one deal.