BOB, GROZ AND TOM

ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian on if Mariners should buy or sell at trade deadline

Jul 4, 2016, 11:46 AM

Are the Mariners contenders or pretenders?

That will be the prevailing question throughout July, for two reasons: they’re in the thick of a crowded race for the American League’s two Wild Card spots, and the non-waiver trade deadline looms on Aug. 1.

ESPN baseball reporter and analyst Tim Kurkjian told 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Bob, Groz and Tom” on Friday that by entering the month hovering around the .500 mark, the Mariners will need to exercise patience before deciding if they are buyers or sellers at that deadline.

“It’s a very, very tricky time, and I think (Mariners general manager) Jerry Dipoto just has to sit back and see where they are, maybe not a month from today – maybe 27 days from today – and make a really difficult decision,” Kurkjian said. “But I’m telling you, I’ve seen it where a team is a buyer one day, they lose one game, and then they’re a seller. That’s how it works when you get down to the nitty-gritty of the season.”

Related: An in-depth look at Mike Zunino’s big return for the Mariners

As for his own assessment of the Mariners, who enjoyed a stellar first two months then endured a rough June but appear to be back on an upswing, Kurkjian sees them as a good but not great team. And while that means a good break here or there could turn them into a true playoff contender, there are a couple of roadblocks in their division that could prevent them from cracking into the postseason.

“They’re certainly not as good as they were early in the year, and they’re certainly not the team that has struggled so badly without Felix Hernandez here,” Kurkjian said. “I think they’re somewhere closer to a slightly-above .500 team, which gives you hope that a couple of good moves or a couple of healthy guys can change things, but you also can’t look past the division that they’re in right now.

“Texas is really good and once they get healthy starting pitching they’re gonna be better,” he added. “And Houston is finally starting to play like the really good team that we thought they would be. You have to factor that in and you have to really be honest with yourself – ‘Can we make the playoffs with the team we have now?’ If the answer’s no, then you gotta sell at the deadline and get something that might be able to help you as you move forward.”

All that considered, if the Mariners answer that question by looking at their impressive four-game sweep over Baltimore, the AL East Division leader, they just might leaning towards buying.

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