Can the M’s Afford To Buy?
As the MLB season heads into the 2nd half of June and the 2014 All-Star game approaches it’s time for one the best parts of any MLB season– Trade Rumor Time.
You have to love trade talk. Even when you team is woefully out of the race early, trade talk gives even the most desperate fan base of a losing team hope for the future.
Despite a short home skid against the Yankees and Rangers the Mariners still find themselves floating above the .500 mark and also well within their grasp is one of the two AL Wild Card spots in the playoffs.
While the team has been playing well, there are definite holes and to fill if the Mariners are going to seriously try to make a run at the postseason in 2014. Here are a few in no particular order.
The M’s clearly could use some help at short.
In a spring that featured two bright, young potential stars battling it out big time in Arizona for the right to be called the Mariner’s starting short stop it’s hard to believe they both could have fallen so far, so fast.
Neither Brad Miller or Nick Franklin have been able to seize the opportunity and take ownership of the spot. Both have batted well below .200 on the season and that’s just not going to work long term.
The Mariners have options here. Chris Taylor is another shortstop in their system at the AAA level. He missed a month or so with a pinky issue but he’s been raking the ball down there regardless.
The problem is he’s not on the 40 man roster so bringing him up means cutting someone else loose completely.
Also available to them are some guys via trade. Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox is rumored to be available. He’s also batting over .300 which is something only one current Mariner can seem to do, Robinson Cano.
At 32 years of age Ramirez is probably near the end of his career and he’s making a lot of money for this season from Chicago, $9.5 million to be exact. The M’s would be responsible for around half of that number to rent him for the remainder of the season, assuming they are willing to add any payroll at all.
The Mariners have made it pretty clear they are not ready to watch Taijuan Walker pitch at Safeco Field at least until the All-Star break. If they extend that feeling even further, they are going to need a starting pitcher because Erasmo Ramirez has been every part of the word “awful” this year.
Rumors are already flying that right handers Jeff Samardzija and former South Kitsap High star Jason Hammel are both available from the Chicago Cubs.
Samardzija is going to be the more expensive of the two to acquire because he’s not in a contract year. He’s eligible for salary arbitration at the end of this season and is already making over $5 million per season.
Hammel, on the other hand, is making $6 million but is a free agent at years end.
The cost to get either of them? Start with Walker or James Paxton and probably at least one other “B” level prospect along with one of them.
Trading either Walker or Paxton would be a gutsy move by the M’s to say the least but you couldn’t argue at all that they were not trying to win now if they pulled the trigger.
James Jones has been a gift from heaven in center and I think his future is secure there. Dustin Ackley has been serviceable in left platooning with Cole Gillespie.
In right field, since Michael Saunders is now on the DL the Mariners find themselves another hole. The Mariners would be wise to revisit their offseason talks with the LA Dodgers about Matt Kemp filling that hole.
Kemp is not the player he once was. Yes, he’s just 29 but his ankle problems have definitely slowed him a bit recently which makes his 8 year, $160 million contract that goes through the 2019 season not look so good anymore.
I think the M’s could get away with not giving up much and get the Dodgers to pay for a portion of that deal. If so, it could be an interesting outfield with Ackley, Jones and Kemp and a much better lineup in Jones, Kemp, Cano, Hart, Seager, and Smoak in the 2nd half of the season.
At this point, it’s all speculation I suppose but it’s the kind of speculation that June and July are made of in Major League Baseball.
Enjoy it and watch it unfold.
No matter what happens, it’s going to be fun.