The upside for the Mariners is pretty clear. They get a proven slugger with some gas left in the tank at a position they can readily fill. The Twins have traded away both Denard Span and Ben Revere this offseason, so Guti provides them a little outfield depth, and Carp gives them another option besides Chris Parmelee to replace Morneau. Joe Mauer might find himself playing more first base too. Carp is a logical guy for the Mariners to trade because he is out of minor league options, and I doubt a shoo-in to make the opening day roster.
Morneau makes $14 million in 2013, but Guti slated to make $7 million. Overall, that means the Mariners take on $7 million, which still leaves them roughly $13 million to spend in free agency. I doubt that hinders them from signing any of the best bats still available besides Josh Hamilton.
Ultimately, this deal likely makes sense for the Twins only if they value the money they save. I would be willing to sweeten the deal with a marginal prospect, but none of the big names. Perhaps Carlos Triunfel intrigues the Twins. I'd even play around with including a guy like Charlie Furbush.
Let's suppose the Mariners and Twins make this trade, and then the Mariners sign Cody Ross in free agency. Here is what the M's lineup could look like:
- Dustin Ackley, 2B
- John Jaso, C
- Cody Ross, LF
- Justin Morneau, 1B
- Jesus Montero, DH
- Kyle Seager, 3B
- Michael Saunders, CF
- Jason Bay/Casper Wells, RF
- Brendan Ryan, SS
It's not a perfect lineup, but it's more respectable than anything the Mariners have trotted out in several years. These hypothetical moves also don't break the budget, involve trading any top prospects, or block the paths of any prospects.
I haven't seen any reports or rumors that Justin Morneau will get traded to anyone. This deal, like any hypothetical deal, probably won't happen. However, the basic structure of the trade makes some sense. Using Gutierrez to acquire a bit more expensive bat makes sense financially, and especially makes sense if/when the Mariners sign a free agent outfielder. I think other teams would still value his defense, especially if they could some outfield help and offload an aging veteran that costs significant money.
It is inevitable that the Mariners will acquire one bat. There aren't a ton of teams still pursuing bats with a chunk of change in their pocket, and the Mariners are one of them. However, two bats would be nice, and with a little creativity I think Zduriencik can find another.