July has made a monumental difference in the way the Seattle Mariners are going to handle the 2013 season. Before July, I wrote a piece looking at the trade chips the Mariners had, figuring Seattle, mired in a disappointing 2013, would be sellers at the trade deadline. The Mariners, winners of eight of nine, now looked poised to make a run at .500 at 48-53. Progress is being made and with the rotation Seattle has and the young bats (Kyle Seager, Justin Smoak, Michael Saunders, and Nick Franklin to name a few) living to their potential, this team as constructed can make a run to the playoffs in 2014. Maybe I’m wearing my rose-tinted glasses, but I firmly believe this team has turned a corner. Still, four games against the Twins at home this weekend may change some attitudes. Less than a week before the deadline, here are the pieces other teams are most interested in.
Kendrys Morales. A free agent at the end of the season, teams looking for offensive help definitely have Morales on the radar. He has produced at the plate hitting .280 with 15 HR and 57 RBI. Considering the Mariners couldn’t replace those numbers and they want to extend him by all accounts, I think it would take a monster deal to pry Morales away from Seattle. The Rangers, who have dealt with GM Jack Zduriencik before in the Cliff Lee deal, are reported to be interested. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports also speculated earlier this month that the Yankees and Rays would be interested in Morales. I don’t want to part with Morales, and, if the Mariners do, I want a bounty to come back in return.
Oliver Perez. Perez, a converted starter, has found his grove in the Mariner bullpen. In 2012, he went 1-3 with a 2.12 ERA. This year, he’s been better going 2-2 with a 1.98 ERA and 2 saves. When the Mariners went to closer by committee, he proved he can fill all parts of the bullpen by converting two saves. A free agent at the end of the season, Perez would be an attractive piece to a contender. The Braves, who need left handed relief help, are rumored to be taking a long look at Perez. I do think, for the right price, the Mariners should sell high on Perez.
Other Trade Chips. The Mariners have a lot of veterans on one year deals, and, without this July run, would’ve probably been looking to make more trades. Joe Saunders was looked at heavily in June, but the team rumored to be hard targeting Saunders, the Orioles, went with Scott Feldman from the Cubs instead. Raul Ibanez is having a monster season, but, at 41, he probably wouldn’t get the return worth moving him and losing his production. Ibanez means too much to the clubhouse to move for a couple of prospects. Along with Oliver Perez, it was rumored the Braves have looked at Charlie Furbush, but I think a Furbush deal is unlikely since he is not a free agent at the end of this season. The Mariners would listen to offers for Brendan Ryan, who has lost playing time to Brad Miller, but there might not be a high level of interest because of Ryan’s struggles at the plate (.194 in 2012 in 141 games, .194 this season in 75 games).