With the trade deadline just around the corner, the Seattle Mariners have some crucial decisions to make about their long-term future.
The Mariners came into the season with expectations of at least making the postseason, with additions at positions of weakness and plenty of young talent. Instead, Seattle has been hurt by the usual offensive deficiencies and has very little chance of making the postseason at 42-50.
Things don’t look like they will be getting much better in the future. Robinson Cano‘s contract is quickly becoming a disaster, the farm system is thinner than in recent years, and prospects like Mike Zunino and James Paxton aren’t quite as promising.
Seattle really should be selling at the deadline, or at least not buying. The question the team must answer is just how much it wants to blow things up.
The problem is the Mariners don’t have much in the way of impending free agents or short-term pieces. Austin Jackson and J.A. Happ would be among the easiest pieces to move, but neither is going to generate much value in return.
There is at least some positive news. Hisashi Iwakuma has looked sharp in his last two outings and could generate quite a bit of interest. Seattle has the young pitching depth to replace Iwakuma in the long-term and should think hard about making a move quickly.
Still, the injury concerns mean Iwakuma won’t even return that much. If the Mariners truly want to rebuild, they have to consider selling off bigger pieces like Nelson Cruz.
This is likely the best season Seattle will get out of Cruz and it is unlikely to contend before Cruz starts to decline. Cruz is likely the only tradeable piece that would return a strong prospect, or at least some salary flexibility. Reloading for next year instead of rebuilding might be the better move, but it is an option the Mariners need to consider.
Still, the Mariners are probably not going to make a huge move either way. General manager Jack Zduriencik knows he is fighting for his job and is going to be extremely unwilling to blow things completely up.
Either way, the Mariners find themselves in a tough position. Admitting that this team is a failure will be tough, but at some point Seattle has to face reality.
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