A Mariners-Rockies Trade? It Sort of Makes Perfect Sense
When you stop and think about it a trade between the Seattle Mariners and the Colorado Rockies makes a fair bit of sense. The Seattle Mariners– who carried the best team ERA in the American League last season– have a perceived pitching depth that is entirely Major League ready. (Though, I would argue, that the Mariners depth is largely unproven and therefore cannot be dismantled without real fears of regression). The Colorado Rockies– who hit the snot out of the ball in the high-altitude air– have outfield depth at every position.
According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, the M’s and Rockies had preliminary trade talks and discussions at the GM meetings earlier in the offseason. And with previous talks under their belts, it’s no stretch to think trade talks could have a natural starting point at the coming Winter Meetings in San Diego.
Morosi says the Mariners have expressed past interest in left-handed outfielders Charlie Blackmon (a 2014 All-Star), Carlos Gonzalez, and Corey Dickerson.
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Of those outfielders Charlie Blackmon is the most enticing. He had a nice blend of speed and power last season, stealing 28 bases and hitting 19 home runs. Blackmon’s first full season came as a 28 year old, and his 6 years of service time will make him a free agent in 2019. And Mariners fans must also wonder how different the hitting would be between Coors Field and the cavernous Safeco Field.
If a deal were to be made for a Charlie Blackmon or a Carlos Gonzalez, the Rockies would certainly want right-handed pitching depth, and would most certainly demand the likes of Taijuan Walker in the deal. Is that something the Mariners are really willing to part with?
Carlos Gonzalez has been hurt and inconsistent in recent seasons, leaving doubt about his ability to produce for 150+ games in a season. Charlie Blackmon, who hit .288/.335/.440 last season, hasn’t yet played 400 games at the Major League level through 4 seasons.
Both of these outfielders– both of whom are lefties– would have a lot to prove in 2015. They don’t seem like the type of players the Mariners really need at this juncture. The M’s want to compete for a World Championship this season, and bringing in a left-handed outfielder who hits well at Coors Field isn’t necessarily the deal that sends the M’s over the top. Besides, the Mariners already have two left-handed hitting outfielders in Michael Saunders and Dustin Ackley who have a lot to prove and can continue improving at the plate.
Sep 12, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Colorado Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon (19) looks on from the on deck circle during the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
If the Mariners are going to give up Taijuan Walker it better be as bait to reel in a really big fish. Charlie Blackmon is not a big fish, and Carlos Gonzalez hasn’t been a big fish since 2012.
The Mariners need to add value to their 2015 roster, but they need to do it by addition and not subtraction; an exchange of Walker for Charlie Blackmon wouldn’t do the trick. If a deal included Erasmo Ramirez and a reliever to replace LaTroy Hawkins, it would be a different story.
These Winter Meetings will be busy, especially for the Seattle Mariners. But with the signing of a righty power bat in Nelson Cruz, GM Jack Zduriencik won’t be negotiating from a position of desperation. He doesn’t have to trade Taijuan Walker or James Paxton if he doesn’t want to. The value added by Nelson Cruz at DH alone (compared to the M’s 2014 numbers) is statistically enough to win at least 2 more games and get to 89 wins.
The Mariners could compete in the American League tomorrow. They don’t have to subtract to add at this point. GM Jack has a lot of room to work his magic, and Mariners fans can only hope he uses it to his advantage to get the players the Mariners need without sacrificing Major League value.