The Mariners have been connected to nearly every offensive player with a pulse this offseason. Several weeks have passed since the winter meetings, and the Mariners have since lost out on the likes of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Nick Swisher, Wil Myers, Shin-Soo Choo, Cody Ross, Kevin Youkilis, Russell Martin and others. The market for offensive players is thinning out quickly and Seattle will have to delve deeply into the trade market if they don’t plan on signing Michael Bourn.
The trade market is a bit of a different animal than it has been in recent years. Prospects value is at an all time low as we’ve seen through the Rays/Royals deal as well as the Red/Indians/Diamondback deal. In fact “The Big 3″ holds as little value now to other organizations than they ever have. Not to say that they are valueless however, but they will undoubtedly be coupled with other major league talent in the event of a deal.
The team is still starving for an offensive force, Kendrys Morales is a nice start, but on a championship caliber team Morales is the complementary piece rather than “The Guy”. Let’s not forget that other than his power output, our new acquisition doesn’t differ much offensively from the Mariners current collection. He struggles to draw walks, and has some large strike out issues. Patience at the plate will still haunt the Mariners in 2013 as they still need to acquire an offensive powerhouse with the added ability to draw walks.
Michael Bourn would be a decent addition, but isn’t’ exactly the kind of player that will drive the ball into the seats. Not to mention you already have a potential lead off hitter in Ackley, assuming he can piece together a respectable bounce back season. So let’s leave him out if the discussion for now. Seattle has been connected with more than a few names this offseason, they all make sense as far as their prowess at the plate, but some make less sense than others when stepping back to take a look at the big picture. With that let’s get into the rankings.
4.) Jason Kubel
The Diamondback’s have a rather crowded outfield, even more so now with the addition of Cody Ross. Theoretically Kubel has been the Mariners radar since his breakout season with the Twins. His bat represents a clear upgrade for the team as his .253/.327/.506 coupled with a .352 wOBA and 30 Home Runs is better than most anything the Mariners can throw out there right now. Kubel is also left handed, a nice fit for SafeCo’s dimensions Surface analysis makes him appear to have high value for the organization, but digging deeper reveals some serious question marks. Jason is an outfielder in title only and a serious liability in the field, making him a prime candidate for DH. DH as you know is a rather crowed spot for the Mariners, who have Jesus Montero, John Jaso, Kendrys Morales, and Raul Ibanez all vying for time at the position. Throw in another bat and one of those players has to be moved. Throw in the fact the Morales and Ibanez are both new acquisitions, that means Jaso, Smoak, or Montero would be on the move. Couple that with the fact that Kubel is on the wrong side of 30 which equates to short term success and he doesn’t make nearly as much sense.
3.) Andre Ethier
Ethier you might remember, was the guy a few years back who couldn’t stop collecting those walk off Home Runs. Either hasn’t quite been the same player as he once was, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have value. Either walks a little bit above league average, with some added pop. However, on the other side of the coin, his numbers against lefties are questionable as well as his fielding. Making him the ideal choice for a platoon DH bat, which as we stated earlier is not a position the Mariners need to fill. Like Kubel, Either will play nicely at SafeCo field. With Either being 31 and owning a contract that could be looking rather albatross in a few years, he doesn’t provide the maximum chance to upgrade this roster.
2.) Justin Upton
At the beginning of the offseason, many believed that Upton would end up in the clutching grasp of the Texas Rangers. However, Diamondbacks insisted on obtaining one of Texas’s young Shortstops and when Texas’s balked, Arizona looked elsewhere. While it is still possible that Texas could be involved, the playing field has leveled by the Dbacks acquisition of Didi Gregorius. Instead of now trying to acquire a young SS, Arizona may be looking for something else, young pitching. The Mariners have this, and Upton may be a piece they deem acceptable to depart with it for. Upton’s road struggles are well documented and many believe that he will struggle even in the newly reconfigured SafeCo. I believe some of those concerns are valid, as Chase is a hitters paradise, but they don’t represent large enough of a concern to nix this deal. Assuming the deal is reasonable, I think the Mariners pull the trigger. Upton is an All-Star with MVP potential, and at the ripe old age of 25 the best is yet to come for this young star. Why not accomplish this in a Mariners uniform.
Formerly Mike Stanton. Nearly all of us are familiar with him. Stanton is a true power threat, a legitimate 50 HR weapon in his prime. Keep in mind this is a 23 year old who managed to blast 37 bombs last season in a mere 123 games. Outside of his slugging abilities Stanton is also an on base threat and a good fielder, the complete package. Why Stanton is even available is truly a mystery, though I suppose when you realize that it’s the Marlins we are talking about it makes a bit more sense. The only drawback with Stanton would be the cost. I cannot even begin to fathom where these conversation began, or even where they are now. but one thing is for certain, several “No’s” have been exchanged. Stanton is the biggest offense upgrade on the market right now and the Mariners are in the mix. This is the type of player that transforms an offense, and Seattle is dire need of that metamorphosis.