Big Moves Seattle Mariners Could Actually Pull off This Offseason

Thomas HolmesCorrespondent IIINovember 14, 2013

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 28:  Brad Miller #5 and Nick Franklin #20 of the Seattle Mariners celebrate after defeating the Oakland Athletics 7-5 at Safeco Field on September 28, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Hiring a manager is a lot like electing a president. You may not be thrilled with the final choice, but you ultimately want them to succeed for the greater good.

Lloyd McClendon is now the Seattle Mariners' new manager, and whether you like him or not, it doesn't do anyone much good to root against the guy.

So while some may consider the choice of McClendon uninspired, I'm generally okay with it.

I reserve the right to feel differently come late May or early June. Until then, however, I see little reason to get too upset about the move.


Well, as far as I'm concerned, there are much bigger issues to deal with this winter, as general manager Jack Zduriencik goes about reshaping the Mariners' roster to help McClendon. 

Fortunately, there is still time, space and money for Zduriencik to work with this winter, but what big moves can the M's front office actually pull off this offseason?

For the moment, it would appear that the team intends to pursue an outfielder and starting pitcher on the free-agent market. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal continues to link the team to Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo.

FYI: Scott Boras is in control of Choo, Ellsbury and Kendrys Morales.
FYI: Scott Boras is in control of Choo, Ellsbury and Kendrys Morales.Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, we've heard this all before. 

Such is life in Seattle over the past few years, as the rumor mill always seems to "attach" the Mariners to the biggest name(s) on the market only to see them sign elsewhere once negotiations get started.

This year, I find myself all the more skeptical of such rumors and could easily see Zduriencik left standing at the altar, once again rejected by a handful of Scott Boras' clients.  

If that happens, Zduriencik may become desperate and dive into the trade market in search of a deal to help salvage this offseason.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, though, it's important to remember that with trades, what you give is often what you get in return. This tidbit is all the more sobering when you consider that the Mariners don't have very much to offer anyone.

To save time and avoid any confusion, let's be clear that trading the likes of Carlos Peguero, Carlos Triunfel or Jesus Montero probably won't net anyone worth getting excited about.

That's not to say Zduriencik will dismiss the chance to find a new home for each of these players over the winter if someone should happen to ask.

Realistically speaking, in order to make a big move, big names will need to be included.  

Yet after depleting the farm system of nearly all of its top major league-ready prospects this past season, the Mariners find themselves at a bizarre crossroads in trying to determine who to keep and who to offer up as bait.  

Across the board, performances from top prospects Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, Mike Zunino, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton were mixed. 

Any one of them could prove to be a solid major league player some day, but based on what we saw in 2013, it's impossible to be certain about who will succeed.

For a time, Franklin looked like the real deal. Now?
For a time, Franklin looked like the real deal. Now?Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

What I did find interesting is that both Lookout Landing and U.S.S. Mariner both sent Nick Franklin packing in exchange for an everyday outfielder in their offseason plans. Overall, it makes sense given how well Franklin performed early on following his promotion this summer. Of all the youngsters the Mariners brought up this season, Franklin should yield the best return. 

It's usually at this moment that I offer an "if" or "but" to debate such a move, yet much like the McClendon hire, I'm hard-pressed to find a counterargument here.

The same could be said of just about anyone that could potentially be in the mix if the right deal were to come along.

Does this mean I would advocate Zduriencik going for broke and offering up half the M's farm system to the Miami Marlins in exchange for Giancarlo Stanton if he misses out on both Ellsbury and Choo?

Perhaps, but while such a deal is possible, ESPN's Jim Bowden suggests that it's improbable.

Besides, dealing for Stanton isn't exactly the point.

Instead, what I want to drive home here is that at some point in the next few weeks or months, we will likely see the Mariners part ways with someone we once had placed hope in for the future in exchange for someone to help make better sense of the present. 

Such news is far from tragic, as it could perhaps lead to progress, but at the same time it is a bit sobering. 

For the past several years, we've been waiting on the kids to arrive, and now that they have, the reality of them being in Seattle isn't nearly as satisfying as the idea of them one day coming to Seattle.  

While nobody said the path to victory would be a straight line, it's hard to get a clear sense of direction when Kyle Seager has been the only prospect to make a successful transition to the majors since Zduriencik took control of the front office five years ago.

Meanwhile, FOX Sports' Jon Morosi is reporting that Seattle is interested in Dexter Fowler. With the one or two once heralded prospects it would take to acquire him, it suddenly becomes that much harder to get excited for next season.

Can Dexter Fowler or someone like him really help?
Can Dexter Fowler or someone like him really help?Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

It's nothing personal against Fowler so much as the fact that he isn't a player you would drop everything to see play.

Dare I say it, but the same could be said of Ellsbury and Choo, yet both are set to become ridiculously wealthy in short time based on the utter lack of talent available this winter.

Eventually, though, you have to figure the Mariners will make a big deal of some kind this winter. The question is whether it will make a big difference.

So what, based on your point of view, is better or worse? Breaking the bank for either Ellsbury or Choo or trading Nick Franklin and perhaps James Paxton away for Dexter Fowler?

In both cases, I'm left feeling underwhelmed.  

Either the M's will bankrupt themselves in free agency, ship off highly rated prospects for slightly-above-average, everyday players or quite possibly both. 

Honestly, I'm not sure what's going to happen next, but I am willing to wager that if it doesn't work, both Zduriencik and McClendon will be gone sooner rather than later.

Until then, I will remain cautiously optimistic, hoping some day that the addition of McClendon and the moves made by Zduriencik this winter work out for the best. 

What other choice do we have?

For now, all we can do is sift through the endless string of rumors and patiently wait for the drama to unfold.


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