Season after season the King would produce, and season after season the national media would speculate when he would be in pinstripes playing in New York.
Everything has changed, and Felix is under contract with Seattle for 7 more years in a place he wants to be. The club is even beginning to build a contending team around him, but there are some holes to fill.
Speculation of Nick Franklin breaking through to the big leagues to replace Brendan Ryan and Robert Andino is an option for improvement, and a healthy Danny Hultzen will certainly improve the end of the rotation whenever he is ready. But, the M’s have trading pieces in the big leagues worth exploring.
Here are three players that the M’s could realistically trade to yield a good profit..
1. Kendrys Morales
The switch-hitting 1B/DH came to Seattle in an offseason trade for Jason Vargas last winter.
Even though this is just his first few months playing for the M’s, his contract is up at the end of this season and there is no speculation that he will resign with the team.
The team and Morales have not made any discussions of an extension public, perhaps because Morales would be a great addition for another team in a playoff run.
A loan-player like Morales could land a good prospect from another team; anything less and the Mariners should pass.
2. Franklin Gutierrez
Tempted to put Raul Ibanez on this list after what he did in Yankee Stadium last week, but there is not a single player in need of a fresh start more than Guti.
Guti has great defensive ability and his contract ends after this season. If a team like Minnesota was looking to dump a big contract (Justin Morneu, Joe Mauer) maybe a deal with Guti and Justin Smoak would make sense.
I love the idea of Guti/Smoak for Morneu. Maybe even Guti/Morales, but time will tell.
Ibanez could go, but his return would be minimal at best, and it would behoove the club to keep the fan favorite in Seattle.
3. Tom Wilhelmsen
Trust me, I hate seeing his name up there as much as the next Seattle fan, but people still believe closers are worth the extra money.
Heath Bell got $9 million/year with the Marlins last winter, and he is playing for the Diamondback now (while still being paid for the Marlins).
Wilhelmsen has been great, but if there is a team willing to give up a top prospect for the “final piece” in a championship run, the M’s will have to think about it.
The St. Louis Cardinals have the best minor league system in baseball, but their bullpen has been decimated with injuries this year. If St. Louis calls, Jack Zduriencik will listen.
If history is any indication, the Cardinals will ride with the players they have and keep the farm intact – that team is so solid, they dumped the greatest player in the world (Albert Pujols) and still made the playoffs last year and have the best record in baseball this year.
Morse is also a one-year player like Morales, but his love for Seattle and production at the plate should be enough for a new contract, something affordable like Guti’s last contract, 4 years, $20 million (probably would have to be $30 mil, but we can dream).
Iwakuma is being paid $7 million/year for this year and next, trading him would be irrational and shortsighted.
That deal would reflect the Cliff Lee deal from a few years back, and we all know how that worked out. If you have an affordable ace, keep him.