With Victor Martinez heading back to Detroit (insert sigh of relief here) the options in the off-season are still full of possibility for the Mariners.
We all know and have heard the interest the M’s have in Hanley Ramirez. However, if they decide to spread that money out they could come away with plenty in this market.
The Seattle Mariners have said they want to explore the free agent market before making any trades, fair enough. But I got to thinking they may end up doing a bit of both.
Is this purely speculative? Absolutely. Do I think these moves are completely impossible? NO!
This free agent market is not riddled with multiple guys who can turn a franchise around, fortunately, the Mariners do not need that at this time. Steering clear of V-Mart was smart, steering clear of Ramirez and Cruz will be smart as well.
Ramirez has a pretty good upside if he can stay healthy, he played just 86 games in 2013 and 128 in 2014. But the money you will spend on him (5-6 years, $100+ million) would most likely tie your hands. So the question you ask then, is Hanley Ramirez the missing piece? I personally do not believe so.
A combination of free agent signings and making a deal via trade with the New York Mets could be a great way to gain multiple pieces that will improve this club and push them over the hump.
Free Agent Move(s)
Billy Butler for 3-years, $27-30 million. Butler is extremely durable and can DH as well as play a little first base. Butler has played more than 150 games in each season since 2009. His average season looks something like this: .295, 18 HR, 87RBI. His power numbers dropped a touch, just nine home runs in 2014, but to me, all that does is make him a little cheaper.
Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Regardless of the player that comes into Safeco Field, you are going to see a bit of a power number drop. Butler is a much more inexpensive option that can still be extremely productive out of the DH spot. Doubles and RBI will come from Butler, and he is a Right Handed option that could sandwich Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager.
Jed Lowrie for 3 years, $27-30 million. An injury cost the switch-hitting Lowrie about 15-20 games in 2014 but his production as an everyday short stop in 2013 was unquestioned. Lowrie hit .290 with 15HR and 75RBI in 2013 and hit in the middle of the Athletics Line-Up.
In 2014, as mentioned, Lowrie was injured a bit but still managed to play 136 games and still drove in 50.
Fifty RBI doesn’t seem thrilling, but when Lowrie returned from injury the Athletics were in the middle of their near epic collapse in which they struggled putting runs on the board.
A couple of great aspects of signing these two players via free agency, saving money and obviously getting multiple additions.
Possible Trade with New York Mets
The Mets have been interested in short stop Brad Miller for two years now. It may be a possibility to ship Miller to Queens and receive a pitcher in return. Rumors have mentioned Dillon Gee as a player that may be an option in this deal.
Gee’s numbers are decent, he was a 12 game winner in 2013 in 32 starts but was just 7-8 in 2014 in 22 starts. A player for player trade, it is an option.
Another option, here is packaging Miller and another Mariner and asking the Mets for Lucas Duda. Duda can play both the outfield as well as first base and brings a bevy of power to the line-up.
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Duda hit just .253 in 2014 but belted 30 homers and drove in 92. Duda, however, is another left-handed bat that would be in an already lefty heavy line-up, but if Butler and/or Lowrie were added as well the balance isn’t too bad.
Who would the added Mariner have to be to get Duda from the Mets? Probably Tijuan Walker or possibly Michael Saunders. Obviously I would prefer Saunders here, but if Walker is needed I would still be okay with that.
If Walker is needed here, you could probably talk to Mets into adding Gee as well.
Recap: Mariners send Miller and Walker to Mets for Duda and Gee.
Possible Mariner Line-Up
1. Jackson CF
2. Ackley LF
3. Cano 2B
4. Butler DH
5. Seager 3B
6. Duda 1B
7. Zunino C
8. Lowrie SS
9. Morrison RF
Again this is just one crazy option that I thought might be interesting to discuss. I believe the trade with Miller to the Mets is the most likely to be done. I’m not sure if the Mariners will snag multiple middle-tier free agents, but it could be interesting if they do.
Again, as in the title of this piece, this is a BOLD option.
This is why the winter is so intriguing, there really is no off-season in baseball!