It's possible that Larry got the idea from combining two rampant rumors that have been circulating; The Phillies looking to deal Abreu and Ichiro reportedly being unhappy in Seattle. Since the Ichiro rumors started, he has backed off of his comments somewhat and the Mariners have said that they're not interested in dealing him anywhere, but we've heard that before, so let's look at the deal.
First, we'll start with the "lesser" parts of the deal.
Joel Pineiro was supposed to be the next pitching superstar as he approached the majors. For a few seasons (2001-2003), he was nothing short of a superstar, going 37-20 with a 3.29 ERA for the Mariners. Then, a funny thing happened. The M's looked to avoid arbitration with Pineiro and signed him to a three-year, $14.5 million contract. Since then, he's gone 13-22 with a 5.21 ERA. Now, he's in the last year of that contract and it will be interesting to see how he responds.
Another guy who put up huge numbers headed toward a new contract is Adrian Beltre. The former Dodgers third baseman went off the charts in 2004, in what was the final year of his contract with L.A. He easily eclipsed career highs in most offensive categories and hit 48 homeruns with 121 RBI and a .334 average. Add to that a .388 on-base percentage and a .629 slugging percentage and Beltre was set for the big bucks in free agency. The Mariners broke out the check book and signed Beltre for five years and $64 million and saw him hit .255 with 19 homeruns in 2005.
Ichiro has been the superstar he was supposed to be when he arrived in the states. Some would even say he's been even better than advertised and is earning every bit of his four-year, $44 million deal that he signed with the Mariners prior to the 2004 season. The deal includes huge and very attainable performance clauses and runs through the 2007 season.
If I'm Seattle GM Bill Bavasi, I say...
Thanks Larry, but no thanks. Abreu is a definite stud and while his numbers are impressive, other than in the power category, they don't really compare with Ichiro. Plus, the M's would take a huge PR hit if and when they would deal Ichiro and would have to definitely be getting a pile of players in exchange for him.
Bavasi also may not be interested in an injured Randy Wolf. At best, Wolf will return in late July or sometime in August and there's no telling how effective he'll be. The M's could have him for a couple months and then see him file for free agency. If they're really interested, they could take their chances and see if he does file for free agency and pursue him then.
Would I replace Beltre with Bell? Well, it would save a lot of money, but with no stud third base prospect ready in Seattle, the Mariners would need to find a third baseman for the 2007 season. And, do I want to include Pineiro in all of this? Not out of the question that the Mariners could be interested in dealing him, but going into a contract year, Pineiro may be poised to put up big numbers again if he's looking for another big payday. You could make the argument that he and Padilla would be somewhat of a wash as part of the trade, depending on which Vicente Padilla shows up.
Financially, the deal works for Seattle, since they get out from under the Beltre contract. With the Mariners having some young players hitting the majors and their recent high profile signing of catcher Kenji Johjima, it's unlikely that they want to take deal Ichiro right now. Perhaps later in the season if things aren't working out, he would become available though.
It would be interesting to propose Bell, Padilla and a mid to upper level prospect for Pineiro and Beltre. Financially, that would be awesome for Seattle and if Beltre were able to turn things around returning to the National League, it may be good for the Phillies, although the remaining four years and $47 million on his contract would be tough for the Phillies to swallow if he doesn't return to the 48 homerun type hitter that he was in 2004. Some believe that Beltre is more suited to the National League, but hey, the guy only hit 44 homeruns in 2002 and 2003 combined until his breakout in '04.
Sorry Larry, but I'm walking away from the table.
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