Last Wednesday, the deadline to tender arbitration-eligible players, the Mariners traded 1B Ben Broussard (74) to the Rangers for 2B Tug Hulett (66/77). Though this is a small deal, there was much more behind it than a simple swap of talent. Most likely, the M's were not going to tender Ben Broussard, which means he would have become a free agent. So, that means they were likely shopping him around to see if anyone was interested in acquiring him. Obviously the Rangers were, and they gave up a relatively anonymous minor-leaguer.
First off, while Tug Hulett may not have superstar written all over him, he is a better player than the type that usually are received in trades like this. Tug provides some needed depth in the infield, and he is good enough to push Jose Lopez for the starting job in spring training. He will be a welcome addition to the team. More importantly though, with Ben gone there now is a need for a left-handed bat on the bench, preferably with a little power. That job should be Jeff Clement's (70/83) to lose. McLaren was clearly impressed by him in September, and the general consensus seems to be that his bat is too good to leave in the minors at this point. Clement will most likely be the third catcher, but the team can afford to do that if they keep both Willie Bloomquist (68) and Mike Morse (69/81).
The Broussard trade may have been small, but it gave many implications about the complexion of the 2008 Mariners. It looks like the youth movement is going to continue, which is worth getting excited about. The system is a little better than advertised, and it looks like baseball will begin to find that out.