In spite of their recent hot streak, Seattle is a midst another year of struggling in the standings at the major league level. The Mariners are in July and most likely looking to be sellers as the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline approaches. Seattle has made a full commitment to the young players in their system and the club seems prepared to take their lumps in order to see what they have in-house with those youngsters. That could potentially mean a very bad last couple of months record-wise, but it is getting to the point where attendance couldn't get much worse anyways.
If they Mariners do make deals, the following players are the most likely to be moved and the most likely to net Seattle a return that could impact the future of the club. None of these moves represent existing rumors that I know of, but all of the landing spots make sense to me.
Kendrys Morales – 1B/DH
Morales came over in December from the Angels in exchange for Jason Vargas and has been very good (in spurts) for the M's. It seems that he's firmly wiped away the cobwebs from the 2010 injury/recovery and can fit into the middle of a lineup as a switch-hitter with power and some patience with an all-fields approach. A Scott Boras client who is likely looking at this coming off-season as his lone shot at a big, long-term deal, Seattle realistically has little chance of re-signing the 30-year-old and probably wants to take the safe route by trading him and assuring a return that they have some control over. He had a Top-5 MVP finish back in 2009 and as a second half hitter, he is on pace for another 20+ HR season with solid secondary stats and his best SO:BB ratio in years.
Possible destination: New York Yankees
The Yankees have lost Mark Teixeria for the year and have been leaning pretty heavily on light-hitting and aging Lyle Overbay primarily at first this season. Overbay has predictably fallen off quite a bit since his decent start and the Yankees are always looking to win now.
Oliver Perez – LHP
Perez has experienced a rebirth of sorts since being signed by the M's and making his way back to the big leagues as a left-handed relief specialist. He has an ERA under two and has his fastball up a few ticks in shorter stints, allowing him to get his K/9 over 12 this year. He's also walking fewer hitters than ever before and is actually holding right-handed hitters in check, too. Cheap and on an expiring contract while still being relatively young (32 in August), he's a worthwhile risk for a contending club as a legit back-end option.
Possible destination: Atlanta Braves
Atlanta is boasting one of the more successful bullpens in baseball right now despite losing a few key arms in their pen to injuries. Their options from the left side right now are two rookies and Perez could give them some much needed experience and fire to compliment right-handers Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel at the end of games.
Raul Ibanez – OF/DH
It doesn't really feel right to me to hear Ibanez mentioned in the same breath as Ted Williams as he continues to wallop home runs for the Mariners at an age when most ballplayers are retired, but the type of season he's having would certainly make him an attractive option for teams looking for help in the DH spot, regardless of his birth date. I personally don't think that Raul or the Seattle front office are going to let the club's veteran leader go in the midst of this historic 41-year-old season, but if I'm misreading things and Ibanez is open to being sent away in trade for a return the M's like then there is a possibility that something will happen, because I'm sure there would be suitors.
Possible destination: Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore is getting great production from a number of positions and is once again outperforming most predictions for them in 2013 as they are right in the thick of the AL East race. But they haven't been getting anything out of the DH spot in the order. Ibanez has hit 40 of his 43 home runs (including 2012 postseason) the past two seasons to the pull side of straight-away center field and he could thrive in Baltimore and Camden Yards with that approach if his hot streak were to keep going.
Michael Morse – OF/DH/1B
He's been injured and not very good lately, but Morse started the season hot and gave a glimpse at the type of offense he could offer a team when he swatted six homers in Seattle's first nine games and nine in their first 25. Morse has big right-handed power, and while the strikeout numbers will always be there, he doesn't own much of a platoon split and has some defensive versatility (although he isn't a good defender at any spot). He figures to be returning from his DL stint soon and says he's feeling great now. If the 31-year-old free-agent-to-be can get back in the lineup and show some thunder over the final few weeks of July he could interest a number of teams.
Possible destination: Tampa Bay Rays
Their susceptibility to left-handed starters was eased a bit when top prospect Wil Myers was promoted last month, but Morse could be a big help in the outfield corners, at DH and even at first base while offering some more right-handed power for the lefty-heavy Rays.
Brendan Ryan – SS
After more than two years of sub-Mendoza Line hitting, Ryan finally lost his starting job to rookie Brad Miller at the end of June. One of the best defensive shortstops in baseball, Ryan has just a .196/.272/.272 slash with Seattle since the start of 2012. He is a streaky hitter and has been hot already once this season (he hit .308/.357/.429 for 26 games mid-May to mid-June), but that streak goes the other way and his plate appearances often turn into a maddening combination of strikeouts and infield pop outs. That all being said, he hit .259/.314/.344 in the NL for the Cardinals before coming to Seattle and he has a fiery attitude and all out approach that could be contagious on a good team.
Possible destination: Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates are looking like this could be the year when they finally sustain a quick start and end their long post season drought. If they do they probably would like to come down the stretch and head into the playoffs with better defensive options up the middle than Jordy Mercer and Neil Walker. Ryan would be cheap and could help a club out that is desperate to taste some success.
There could be other minor moves, and Seattle could also shock everyone and make a bigger move with Iwakuma, Wilhelmsen or one of the younger players, but the five veterans above are the most likely to be moved in my opinion.
Stick with SeattleClubhouse for updates on any and all moves that the Mariners do make and we'll give you the ins and outs of how it effects the organization.
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