With the MLB Winter Meetings roughly two weeks away, I figured it might be worthwhile to briefly shift gears away from free agency and focus on a trade rumor involving the Mariners.
Seattle covets Royals DH Billy Butler, according to one rival executive, and conceivably would part with young, high-end starting pitching to gain control of him for three years. But the Royals, sources say, still aren’t sure the rest of their offense is potent enough to move Butler, not when first baseman Eric Hosmer is coming off a disappointing season and center fielder Lorenzo Cain appeared in only 61 games due to a left groin injury.
Of course, how much credence you wish to put into the thoughts and theories of "one rival executive" is up to you, but I figured it might be worthwhile to piece together some thoughts on whether a deal for Butler makes sense for the M's.
As we all know the Mariners need help in quite a few spots on their roster and Butler seems capable of helping, as a proven commodity who can hit the baseball from the right side of the plate with authority.
Making a move for Butler all the more tempting is the fact that the M's would indeed be getting him for three prime years during his late twenties, while the team figures out what to do with the likes of Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero and John Jaso.
Does adding Butler to the mix add an unnecessary layer of complexity to the situation?
Two weeks ago I proposed that the M's should sign free agent Mike Napoli to cover off on first base, DH, and catching duties for nearly the same reason as I have a hard time believing all three will emerge as keepers long-term.
So at first glance a deal for an All-Star like Butler does make sense if we assume the M's really do want him.
The part where things start to fall apart for me is engineering an actual trade.
How exactly do the the Mariners and Royals work out a fair deal?
If we assume that prospects James Paxton and Nick Franklin, who were both on display in the Arizona Fall League, will headline any serious proposal the M's make this winter for a big name, who else do you toss into the mix?
Would Royals general manager Dayton Moore bite for a package that included Mike Carp, Casper Wells, or Vinnie Catricala in addition to Paxton and Franklin?
Unlikely, but would Jack Zduriencik be willing to trade infielder Kyle Seager?
Much like Jack Z, Dayton Moore will probably need an everyday player in return for Butler to even consider shipping him away this winter. Finding the right chess pieces could potentially doom this deal unless both sides are willing to get a bit more creative.
Would a third trade partner help?
Maybe, or perhaps the M's should see if either outfielder Alex Gordon or top prospect Wil Myers could be included.
By that point you would have to believe that both Jack Z and Dayton Moore are either desperate or crazy given any conversation involving either outfielder would also have to include the M's top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker as part of the deal in place of the aforementioned Paxton.
Could both teams pull the trigger on a deal that saw Butler and Myers go to Seattle in exchange for Seager, Walker, and Franklin?
This is where years of playing fantasy sports have clouded my mind, as I can't imagine either GM pulling the trigger on such a deal—it's way too risky.
Billy "Country Breakfast" Butler is a middle-of-the-order fan favorite with three years remaining on a reasonable contract for a team that really can't afford to ship him away for prospects. Meanwhile the Mariners would likely need to sacrifice one everyday player and at least two of their top five prospects.
This wouldn't bother me so much if I knew who could play third base in Kyle Seager's absence as Alex Liddi, Carlos Triunfel and Chone Figgins all come with major questions. Meanwhile further down the pipeline Francisco Martinez seems to be regressing and Stefen Romero still looks like he's a year away from reaching the majors and both may never even play at third in the pros.
It will be interesting to see if anything more comes of this rumor, as I'm sure both men will talk while together in Nashville for the Winter Meetings, but the odds of them reaching an agreement any time soon seems slim for the moment.
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