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Four-ish Mariners Worth Trading

I am enjoying the M's youthful surge towards .500 as much as the next fan, but I'm also realistic. This team isn't going to contend this year. They might not be that far away though. Next year doesn't seem like as big of a stretch these days. Still, the Mariners can sell at the trade deadline and feel fine about their decisions. It looks like few teams are willing to sell, and asking prices are high, so perhaps the Mariners could swing some nice deals in this market.

With that said, the Mariners don't have to make any moves. Their roster is already in decent shape for the offseason. The Mariners basically have veterans with expiring contracts, rookies under team control for multiple years, and King Felix. In other words, they will have money to spend in the offseason, and because enough of the rookies look pretty solid, only a handful of positions to fill.

There are still some Mariners I would shop around, including one surprise option that I doubt many would agree with. Without further ado, the M's I'd shop around:

  • Oliver Perez and/or Charlie Furbush - The Mariners need to trade at least one lefty reliever. Contenders want specialty lefties, so this can  happen. The Mariners also have Bobby LaFramboise and Brian Moran languishing in AAA. LaFramboise has been unimpressive in a couple (very) abbreviated MLB stints, but Moran is yet to get the call. Moran is a wizard for the Rainiers, striking out well over a batter an inning with a fastball that sits in the mid to upper 80s. It would be smart for the Mariners to call up Moran and find out what they have between now and the end of the season, because I think he can be a serviceable middle reliever. However, there isn't room with all the lefties in the M's bullpen right now. Clearing one or two of them out makes a world of sense. I bet the Mariners could trade a southpaw for some outfield depth - nothing amazing, but Shawn Kelley netted Abe Almonte. Something along those lines seems reasonable. I would demand the highest return for Furbush because he is has multiple years of team control remaining.
  • Tom Wilhelmsen - I wouldn't be real aggressive with the bartender, but I'd poke around. I don't see Wilhelmsen as a closer long-term, but if some team does then I probably work out a trade. I think he'll always have electric stuff and be a bit inconsistent - valuable, for sure, but not elite. Some team out there might see Wilhelmsen's stuff, his role as a closer, and conclude that he's closer to elite than he is. Also, though the M's bullpen hasn't been great this year, Stephen Pryor should be coming back at some point, Carter Capps still has potential, and I'm also high on AA closer Carson Smith. If you don't believe that Wilhelmsen is elite (like I don't) then these other options have good chances to replace his value as early as next year.
  • Kendrys Morales - The Mariners have a glut of first-base/DH types, especially with Mike Morse coming back and Justin Smoak looking more and more like a serviceable first basemen. Some of these guys (Morse and Raul Ibanez) have been forced to the outfield because of the roster crunch, and Jason Bay just got DFAd. Jesus Montero eventually joins this mix again, and I also don't see how the Mariners carve out playing time for Stefen Romero without freeing up this logjam a bit and I would like to see him get some playing time in the majors before the end of the season. The good news is that Morales, Ibanez, and Morse are all free agents at the end of the year. Ibanez might retire. Morales will cost the most money. Morse might be more affordable thanks to his injuries this year. I don't see Morales coming back, all things considered, and contenders like his bat. As a side note, I enjoy Ibanez's geriatric home run chase, which only continues if he stays in Seattle. He'll be a bench player on a contender. So, I want him to stay, and Morales should net more of a return in a trade anyways.
  • Hisashi Iwakuma - 'Kuma is my dark horse trade candidate. He makes more sense than most are willing to admit, and the most logical player the Mariners could move to get a significant return in a trade. There aren't many starting pitchers on the trade market right now, and Iwakuma would immediately become the most attractive option. He's in the midst of a career year with a very reasonable contract that runs through next season with an option year for 2015. That makes Iwakuma more than a rental, which is critical for getting a good return in a trade. Also, the Mariners have pitching depth (Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Brandon Maurer, Danny Hultzen) that could replace Iwakuma in short order, at least in theory. Iwakuma, in my opinion, is overrated at this point in the same way that Jason Vargas got overrated last season. Iwakuma is a quality pitcher and a valuable asset, but he's seen as an anchor on the roster because he is the number 2 starter behind King Felix. In reality he is more of a valuable supporting piece. Iwakuma is on pace for around a 3 WAR season, which again, is valuable, but that's value that can be replaced. Trading Iwakuma now would be selling him at maximum value, given how good he is right now, the nature of his contract, and the paucity of starting pitchers on the trade market. He could yield a surprising return that makes a trade worthwhile.
 The safe bet is that the Mariners do nothing or next-to nothing at the trade deadline. Jack Zduriencik plays his cards close to the vest though, so who knows. If he pops a surprise move, I think it involves Iwakuma. We shall know the outcome in less than 36 hours.