Justin Upton rejected a trade to the Mariners a couple days ago. This is the biggest news of the whole offseason for the Mariners, which sums up how the offseason has felt. The Mariners seems to have options, but none of them seem to happen.
The rumored package to get Upton was headlined by Taijuan Walker, and filled out with Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, and Nick Franklin.
Basically, I whole-heartedly agree with Dave Cameron's analysis. This was a fair trade for the Mariners. It would have hurt to see Walker leave, but great to see Upton in the M's lineup. Trades are trades, not free acquisitions of talent. A team loses something to gain something else.
This deal made incredible sense for the Mariners, particularly in light of who is on the roster right now.
Charlie Furbush turned into a great lefty reliever. He seems likely to stay good for some time. However, is he really going to get better than he was in 2012? I doubt it, because he was awfully good. His trade value will never be higher than right now. Furthermore, the M's have southpaws Oliver Perez and Bobby LaFramboise on the 40-man roster, with Brian Moran a capable non-roster guy in AAA. None of them are as good as Furbush, but they are capable replacements. I think all of them are above replacement level. Losing Furbush would not create a gaping hole on the roster.
Stephen Pryor is a young flame-thrower with a promising future. However, Tom Wilhelmsen and Carter Capps are already flame-throwers in the bullpen with better stuff and better results. Pryor is superfluous on this roster - a nice commodity to have for sure, but losing him does not create a gaping hole either.
Nick Franklin is an interesting prospect, because most scouts do not see start potential but also have a "high basement" for him. In other words, Franklin has an extremely good chance to pan out, but little chance at stardom. He is going to be a solid everyday player. Most expect him to move off of shortstop too, but to where on the current M's roster? Does he take away a spot from Dustin Ackley or Kyle Seager? Those are the logical spots. Franklin would be a loss, but he already has an unclear path to the majors with the Mariners.
All in all, the three players besides Taijuan Walker in the Upton trade have talent, but talent the Mariners can afford to hand over. It is worth keeping this in mind. The Mariners were not shipping the farm away for Justin Upton. Really, they were trading Taijuan Walker for Justin Upton, with some luxurious but ultimately non-essential depth thrown in to make the Diamondbacks bite.
It is easy to look at Walker and imagine what he will be, then look at Upton's somewhat disappointing 2012, and understand why some feel that the Mariners would have overpayed. However, Walker is still all potential, and while he has more upside than Upton at this point, he also has more downside. Furthermore, the odds of the Mariners luring good pitchers to Seattle are still better than luring hitters. Finding capable bats is tougher for the Mariners than finding capable arms, so trading away an arm for a bat makes great sense. Even in a down year for Upton, he was a capable bat.
Don't get me wrong; it's not as if the deal Upton rejected was some steal for the Mariners. It wasn't, but it made a whole bunch of sense. The good news here is that the Mariners have a package of players they can offer to acquire a legitimate answer for the offense without giving away the whole future. I still say someone worth getting exciting about is coming to Safeco, one way or another.