With the Major League trade deadline coming up July 31st, it's time to ask the annual question: Are the Mariners buyers or sellers?
I think there's no question the M's are buyers, but when this franchise opens its minor league wallet there's not much there but a puff of dust and a moth. There's just not a lot of talent in the team's minor league system to wheel and deal for a quality veteran. Not just admirable quality, restaurant quality. Sure, they have a couple of stud prospects, but the last thing fans want to see is another Adam Jones for Erik Bedard deal, although the Mariners do find themselves in a similar position - they need a veteran starter. Felix Hernandez and James Paxton give the team a solid one-two punch, but who's bringing that third haymaker?
Ariel Miranda did a nice job carrying the mail in the first half of the season. He's 7-and-4 with a 4.35 ERA, but he's also in unchartered territory. He's already made a career high 19 starts this season, just his second season in the majors. Will he hit a wall in September? Will he have enough arm strength left to win some key games down the stretch?
I've said this for weeks - this team doesn't need to do anything drastic. They have plenty of offense. They have two of the league's top five hitters in Jean Segura and Ben Gamel. As a team, the Mariners are tied with the Yankees for second in hitting, so the offense is there.
The closer is there. Edwin Diaz has been steam rolling batters, earning five saves in the last six days.
The defense is there. GM Jerry Dipoto made it an offseason quest to make the Mariners outfield more athletic. Dyson, Gamel and Haniger have spent the season flying around making big plays. Check.
It comes down to pitching, as it always does in baseball. You can never have enough.
Dipoto isn't interested in "renting" a pitcher whose contract expires after the season. He's looking for starting pitching the team can control beyond this season.
Giants right hander Jeff Samardzija has been drawing a lot of attention. He has three years left on his contract at an average of 16 million a season.
What about Detroit's Justin Verlander? Here's the good - he also has three years left on his contract, giving Dipoto the control he wants. Here's the bad - his contract pays him 28 million in each of the next two years and 22 million in the final year of his deal. He's currently the fourth highest paid player in the majors and you get the feeling the Tigers would love to rid themselves of the remaining 78 million owed on the contract. To do it, they would likely have to pony up millions to a potential trade partner.
A Verlander deal could be a little rich for the Mariners' blood, but the Tigers probably wouldn't want much in return. Heck, maybe a bag of balls, which the Mariners may need to make this deal.