Former MLB general manager and current ESPN analyst Jim Bowden joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” on Tuesday for a discussion about the Mariners and the upcoming trade deadline. Below are some highlights from that conversation.
M’s should go for it. Every team weighing its options at the trade deadline must consider how realistic a shot it has at not just reaching the playoffs but a making a deep run. With the Mariners, some have expressed the opinion that making a blockbuster move would mean giving up too much for a team that would still be a longshot, needing to win a one-game series on the road against a superior club in order to advance. Bowden sees it differently, believing that with the pitching the Mariners already have, any additions could help put them over the top.
“Not only are they in, but this is the best shot they’ve had at a World Series since Lou Piniella was managing. This is an exciting time for them,” he said. “Obviously, a two-and-a-half-game lead in the wild card, more importantly the lowest ERA of any team in the American League, and you know what that means. So if they can find a way to score some runs and they can find a way to make an addition or two, if they get to the postseason and they have Felix Hernandez pitching the wild-card game then you’ve got (Hisashi) Iwakuma, maybe they make a trade for another pitching, they’ve got a shot.”
Buyers could trade with buyers. The most common trades at this time of the year involve losing teams sending proven players to contending teams in exchange for prospects. There are plenty of buyers this year with the additional wild-card spot increasing the number of teams that have a shot – or believe they have a shot – at reaching the postseason. The problem, according to Bowden, is that the sellers don’t have much to offer.
“If there’s going to be activity at the deadline, it’s going to be a situation where it may be buyers trading with buyers where you’re trading a strength for a weakness,” he said. “That’s what’s going to be fascinating here because there’s not a lot on the market.”
One trade that would fit that description involves Mariners second baseman Nick Franklin, who has reportedly drawn interest from the American League West-leading Athletics.
Bowden said Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik has “some nice trade-bait pieces, including second baseman Nick Franklin, in a marketplace where several teams need a second baseman.”
Zduriencik is on a mission. If the Mariners don’t make any moves before the deadline, it sounds like it won’t be for a lack of trying.
“I’ve talked to several GMs that said that Jack has been very aggressive in talking [about] any way that he can improve the team,” Bowden said. “He’s kind of taking the Billy Beane approach. It’s not just bats; he’s out there listening and talking to everyone.”
Bowden said he has “a lot of confidence that Jack’s gonna be able to do something here in the next week.”
Bartolo Colon or David Price? The Mariners have been linked on several occasions to Rays ace David Price, and the player that tends to come up in that hypothetical deal is Seattle’s top pitching prospect, Taijuan Walker. Bowden says that Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman “loves” Walker. One problem, though.
“I know they’ve been connected with David Price but I get the impression from Tampa Bay people that they’re in it and I get the impression they’re not gonna trade him, although they do match up well with Seattle,” Bowden said.
Another possibility is the Mets’ Bartolo Colon, who Bowden believes “would be a really good fit” with Seattle even though he’s making $9 million this season and $11 million in 2015, the final year of his contract.
Colon, 41, took a perfect game into the seventh inning against the Mariners on Wednesday. He’s now 9-8 with a 4.03 ERA this season.