Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik has stated repeatedly that he does not expect to become a major participant in trades before the non-waiver deadline Wednesday afternoon. This despite the fact that he has several moveable veterans on one-year deals, including OF Raul Ibanez, OF Michael Morse, DH Kendrys Morales, LHP Joe Saunders and LHP Oliver Perez, all of whom have been mentioned as trade possibilities, especially Morales and Perez.
The Atlanta Braves, for example, have reportedly targeted Perez and Charlie Furbush. The Orioles, according to reports, covet Perez. Meanwhile the Rangers would like to add Morales.
Now that OF Jason Bay has been designated for assignment, the Mariners could make minor moves by dealing INF Brendan Ryan and OF Endy Chavez, both of whom have lost playing time to younger players and don’t figure to play significant roles the rest of the year. On the other hand, maybe even minor moves for these two are out of the question. As trade bait, they don’t amount to piffle.
Beyond that, Zduriencik seems bent toward standing pat, which makes sense. The franchise needs to show progress and so, for that matter, does Zduriencik.
Progress has been evident since the week before the All-Star break. But it needs to sustain over the season’s final nine weeks in order for the franchise to have any hope of a successful offseason adding players.
Given that they’ve rarely been in contention this time of year, the Mariners do not have an extensive history of pre-trade deadline deal making. But they’ve made several, some spectacular, some dreadful, many of them washes. The following are Seattle’s best in-season trades, and we’d appreciate your participation in our poll.
A — July 21, 1988, 1B Ken Phelps to the Yankees for OF Jay Buhner and minor league pitcher Rich Balabon: Phelps was never happy when he performed for the Mariners from 1983-88, either dissatisfied with playing his lack of time or money, sometimes both simultaneously. The Yankees were never happy with Phelps after acquiring him for the 23-year-old Buhner. In parts of two seasons in New York, Buhner hit .240 with 17 homers and 51 RBIs. Buhner hit 307 home runs in 14 years with the Mariners (1988-01) and already is in the Mariners Hall of Fame. So one-sided was the trade in Seattle’s favor that it was featured in a Seinfeld episode.
B — May 25, 1989, LHP Mark Langston and RHP Mike Campbell to Montreal for LHP Randy Johnson, RHP Brian Holman and RHP Gene Harris: Recognizing that they were going to lose Langston in free agency after he turned down a three-year, $7.1 million contract, the Mariners had no choice but to trade their first pitching ace. Johnson, the throw-in after he had been demoted to the minor leagues, became the bonanza. He developed into the winningest pitcher in franchise history (subsequently eclipsed by Jamie Moyer) a Cy Young Award winner and, six years after the trade, outdueled Langston in a one-game playoff at the Kingdome that sent the Mariners to the postseason for the first time in club history.
C — July 31, 1995, LHP Ron Villone and OF Marc Newfield to San Diego for RHPs Andy Benes and Greg Keagle: The Mariners surrendered serviceable players in Villone and Newfield, and in Benes only received a rent-a-player for the stretch drive. Benes delivered in a big way, winning seven of his 12 starts, including five consecutive victories between Aug. 29-Sept. 6 when the Mariners caught up with the California Angels in the AL West race. Benes signed as a free agent with St. Louis following the season.
D — Aug. 15, 1995, RHP Jim Converse to Kansas City for OF Vince Coleman: Selected by Seattle in the 16th round of the 1990 amateur draft, Converse compiled a 1-11, 7.65 ERA in 23 games, including 13 starts, for the Mariners between 1993-95 (injured in 1996 and did not pitch). With the Mariners in need of a spark for a potential playoff run, they shipped him to Royals for Coleman, a 33-year-old journeyman infamous for getting rolled up in a tarp during the 1985 NLCS. Coleman played in 40 games, hit .290 and played a significant role in Seattle reaching the postseason for the first time. He signed with Cincinnati as a free agent that winter.
E — July 30, 1996: OF Darren Brag to Boston for LHP Jamie Moyer: The Mariners had a glut of outfielders but not much in the way of starting pitching (Randy Johnson was out for the season following back surgery) when they dealt the 26-year-old Bragg to the Red Sox for 33-year-old Moyer, who had never done much to distinguish himself. With the Mariners, Moyer twice won 20 games, became a first-time All-Star at age 40, and wound up as the winningest pitcher in franchise history. Bragg was a .255 hitter over 11 seasons.
F — July 31, 1998, LHP Randy Johnson to Houston for RHP Freddy Garcia. LHP John Halama and SS Carlos Guillen: This deal could also fall under the category of “Worst In-Season Trades.” Johnson, the dominant pitcher in franchise history, departed as a 130-win malcontent/strikeout machine in part because the Mariners figured the 35-year-old’s surgically repaired back wasn’t worth a long-term investment. But Johnson produced the best years of his career after leaving, winning four Cy Young Awards, a World Series co-MVP, and certifying himself a Hall of Famer. Garcia developed into Seattle’s staff ace, winning 76 games over six seasons, making two All-Star teams and winning an ERA title (3.05, 2001). The main crime involved Guillen, whom the Mariners literally gave away to Detroit just as he was evolving into an All-Star.
G — June 26, 2010 Ezequiel Carrera and Juan Diaz to Cleveland for 1B Russell Branyan: Branyan didn’t stay long with the Mariners, 173 games over the 2009-10 seasons. But he banged 46 home runs during his stay, including a career-high 31 in 2009. Carrera never amounted to much in his three MLB seasons, and Diaz was a career minor leaguer.
H — July 23, 2012, OF Ichiro to the New York Yankees for RHP Danny Farquhar and D.J. Mitchell: The Mariners did not receive much of consequence for the long-time franchise icon, whose best days were well behind him, but his trade enabled the Mariners to free up tons of salary and go full throttle on a much-needed rebuild with younger players.