INF Brendan Ryan from the Cardinals for RHP Maikel Cleto.
I wrote about Cleto when he was added to the 40-man roster, and I've never been a big believer in him. I was concerned that the Mariners were too in love with him, but clearly, they were not. As much as I like Ryan, no team would trade a guy that they think will turn into an impact starting pitcher for him.
Still, Brendan is an underrated player at this point. He had a poor offensive season, but a low BABIP, aided largely by a bad average on line drives, suggests that many of his struggles were simply bad luck. Furthermore, he believes that a wrist injury hampered him in 2010, which is plausible.
Even with the league switch, Ryan is in line to rebound at the plate, though he isn't all that great of a hitter. He is simply good enough with his defense, which is stellar by any measure. Ryan can play second, short, or third with ease.
Ultimately, on a good team, Brendan Ryan is a valuable bench player. However, with the 2011 Mariners, he should be starting. He could be the opening day second or third baseman, depending on what the M's want to do with Chone Figgins. He definitely can play shortstop everyday if/when Jack Wilson gets injured. Arguably, Ryan should start ahead of him no matter what.
However, what makes this move particularly great is what it means for the development of some of the M's bigger prospects. Most people have already supposed that Ryan buys Dustin Ackley however much time he needs to be ready, and that is true. However, since Ryan is under team control for three more years, he also is the ideal solution at shortstop until Nick Franklin is ready to take over.
Brendan Ryan isn't going to save the M's offense, and he isn't likely to win too many games on his own. However, the depth he brings was desperately needed, both short term and long term. If all goes according to plan, when Ackley and Franklin are turning heads as a hot, young double play combo, we can thank Brendan Ryan for giving them the time they needed before they hit the show.