By Shannon Drayer
Things should get interesting in the next day and a half. We already had a flurry of trade rumors Sunday with multiple reports out that Brandon League was about to be traded. Where? No one knew and it was apparent that the move was not imminent the minute League got up to get ready to come into the game. If something was close, the team would not risk him getting injured.
That said, there is little doubt something will happen with League. His name has been out there for awhile and while he is most likely no longer viewed as a closer, he has shown good versatility in more of a setup role. Before giving up three runs Sunday, League had given up only two runs in his last 17 appearances. Couple this with the fact that there aren’t a huge number of eighth- or ninth-inning guys available and I think there is a good chance that the Mariners will get something for him, which after what we saw earlier this year is certainly something.
I am going to go ahead and admit that I was wrong about keeping League, and honestly, I should have known better. There were plenty of suggestions that the Mariners should trade League last offseason while his value was most likely at its highest and I was dead-set against it. My rationale was that if this was going to be a young team fighting for wins you had to have something solid to save them at the end. A series of blown saves could be devastating for a young team.
I thought there could be some regression with League but nothing close to what we saw. He lost games for the club and he lost value. All the while the next guy was there and waiting in the wings in Tom Wilhelmsen. Younger (a younger arm, at least), better, cheaper.
Pulling closers out of thin air has been a strength of this club for some time now. League was without a doubt expendable and replaceable last offseason. We didn’t know it at the time — heck, we didn’t know it coming out of spring training — but we should have known that the Mariners could come up with talent in the bullpen.
With all that said, however, I do not want to see Tom Wilhelmsen traded. I clearly have learned nothing.
Piecing together a rotation would be difficult if the M’s were to trade both Jason Vargas and Kevin Millwood. (AP)
Moving on …
Will we see both Jason Vargas and Kevin Millwood dealt? I hope not. Piecing together a rotation for the final two months of a season is not fun. We have been there before. Remember Anthony Vasquez and Charlie Furbush the starter?
Bring up Danny Hultzen, you may say. Not until he is ready. He seems to be figuring things out in Triple-A but he has yet to be dominant there. On that note, I was wrong again. I — and others, for that matter — thought that we would see at least one of Hultzen or James Paxton up after the All-Star break. It looks like we are looking at more of a September arrival date for one or both. This is okay. I would just as soon see them take a little time and have less chance of something being missed.
It is just a little surprising for me. Not that they are not ready, rather that I am wrong again.
I kid. It happens and I am good with that. Back to the original topic of Vargas and Millwood. If I am to trade Vargas, I am getting back something I specifically want and not just a handful of prospects who might turn into something. Vargas has value to the Mariners as they really don’t have anything else to put right behind Felix in the rotation next year. If they have more dollars available after trading Ichiro and other moves they can go after something else, but in Vargas they have something they know. Something that has steadily improved and something that fits pretty well into Safeco Field.
While trading Vargas two months ago seemed like a no-brainer, I am not so sure now. Is his best value in what he can bring to the Mariners or what he can bring back in trade?
He said something after his last start that has stuck in my head for some time. While telling reporters that he wanted to stay in Seattle he dropped this line in: “I hope that what I can do out on the field is worth them keeping me here.”
The more I thought about it the more I thought that he was talking about more than this year or next year, his final year of arbitration eligibility. Makes me wonder if there has been talk about a possible extension with him. It is an option and an option that if played right could maximize his value.
As for Millwood, if Vargas stays then I think you take what you can get for him and hopefully get him to a contender. His career most likely is winding down and he has been noncommittal about playing next year. He is a great guy and a fantastic baseball person and it would be great to see him go out on a winning team if he is indeed close to hanging it up.
League, Vargas and Millwood are the players we will most likely see dealt. No doubt Miguel Olivo and Chone Figgins are available too. Brendan Ryan, who has hit near his career average for the last month, could be drawing interest as well, but he falls into the Vargas category for me. I only move him if I get exactly what I want for him. There is no one ready behind him at short and right now he is helping the club win ballgames.
Could there be a deadline surprise? Absolutely. We already have had one big trade surprise. For that, however, we will just have to wait and see.