Jon Lester And Max Scherzer Off Mariners Radar? Don’t Be So Sure


With the Seattle Mariners offseason focus being on offense, particularly right-handed power bats, it made sense to hear that the team would most likely not be in on trying to acquire some of the big name free agent starting pitchers like Jon Lester or Max Scherzer.

After all, with Felix Hernandez under contract at over $20M per season and with Hisashi Iwakuma a free agent after 2015 – with the hopes of resigning him – would there really be enough money to add yet another $20M/year deal?

The offseason plan has been executed according to plan, so far. Locking up Kyle Seager and signing Nelson Cruz were obviously top priorities for the club. But now the focus seems to be on trading for another bat to play right field.

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As always, the conversation begins with Taijuan Walker. The team says they are not looking to trade Walker, in fact Jack Zduriencik said the team was looking to add, not subtract.

Yet, the club executed a seemingly unusual trade on Wednesday that sent Michael Saunders to the Toronto Blue Jays for LHP J.A. Happ. I still don’t think the final plan is to have Happ in the rotation in 2015, but I could be wrong.

So, the question remains; Could the Seattle Mariners throw big money at either Lester or Scherzer?

After all, Lester is a Washington state native. He could be lured by the idea of playing for a contender in front of friends and family. And it was reported that a “mystery team” had entered the sweepstakes for Lester. That team was allegedly outed as the Dodgers, but that doesn’t mean those sources were right.

The downside to Jon Lester is that he is a lefty and the rotation is already lefty heavy with the addition of Happ. Enter Scherzer. He will cost more than Lester – presumably – but he’s a righty.

Why do I bring any of this up? Because what if the “plan” is to use Taijuan Walker, Roenis Elias, Happ or a combination of two of them, to acquire an outfielder then go get one of these two arms?

Essentially, turning the deal into Walker for Lester & Upton. He ended by saying, “I am in for that.”

I asked a former Major League GM about one of the consistent rumors out there – Walker for Justin Upton straight up – and asked him if he’d make that deal back when he was a GM. He told me that he would make that deal, IF it meant the Mariners got Lester and a chance to sign Upton to long term deal.

Essentially, turning the deal into Walker for Lester & Upton. He ended by saying, “I am in for that.”

It’s interesting to think about. Though Lester doesn’t necessarily fit for the reasons stated before. Walker would HAVE to stay to avoid having three lefties in the rotation. So, could Upton be had for Elias and Happ? What if it were Elias, Happ and an OF prospect for Upton AND Evan Gattis. Would that be okay?

Or, if the plan is to sign Scherzer, would fans be okay with losing Walker for at least one year of Upton?

Just throwing ideas out there. I’m not suggesting that any of those would be plausible or are actually in the works. But it IS interesting to think that the Mariners could have a big move or two up their sleeves. And it was interesting to hear the perspective of a former GM as to how he would do it.

So, as the Winter Meetings are now less than 72 hours away, all eyes will be on the Mariners to see how this story will end. As I said before, this is a giant game of chess. The participants have been lining up their moves, strategically plotting and coordinating.

I’m sure Mariners fans are hoping that by the end of the meetings, Jack Zduriencik and the Mariners can say “Checkmate”.