Mariners' Trade Deadline plans not yet set

Mariners' Trade Deadline plans not yet set

Mariners' Trade Deadline plans not yet set
SEATTLE -- Though general manager Jack Zduriencik remains uncertain as to how things might play out this July as the Mariners approach the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, he has a track record of making midseason moves if he thinks he can add long-term talent to his club's young nucleus.

The Mariners clearly fall into the "sellers" category again, given their position at the bottom of the American League West. In a similar situation a year ago, Zduriencik swapped pitchers Doug Fister and Erik Bedard for a group of young prospects.

But even though they don't have a lot of experienced veterans who might draw high interest from contending teams, Zduriencik might be inclined to move some younger players if he thinks it might help find the right mix to bolster Seattle's struggling offense.

Manager Eric Wedge said before the All-Star break that he isn't going to watch the same things happen over and over again with a team that has finished last in the AL in scoring for three straight seasons.

But whether that means the club will use the trade route to change things in midseason remains to be seen.

"I don't have an answer for that yet," Zduriencik said. "What I'd like to do is see what we have right here. I'd like to see these guys come back with fire in their eyes [in the final months].

"Whether you're a seller or not, it just depends. We always have dialogue going. I don't have anything right now on the table that would be sensational or enormously significant, but things can change in a day."

The Mariners do have some veteran players who don't likely fit in their long-range plans, but it remains to be seen how much value they hold on the trade market.

Catcher Miguel Olivo has seen his playing time reduced with the arrival of rookie Jesus Montero and the offseason trade for John Jaso, and he's in the last year of his contract, and utility man Chone Figgins doesn't have much of a role despite there being another year on his deal. But neither has produced much offensively.

The Mariners' biggest trade chip figured to be reliever Brandon League, who becomes a free agent after this season. League lost his closer's role in June and has been inconsistent of late, but did save 37 games in 2011, so it's not clear what his value might be for teams looking to solidify their bullpen.

If Zduriencik is willing to part with another starter after dealing Fister and Bedard a year ago, left-hander Jason Vargas certainly could be a trade option. But Vargas has one more year of club control as he enters his final year of arbitration, and the Mariners value him as their No. 2 man behind Felix Hernandez as they await the arrival of some top young prospects from the Minor League system.

Veteran right-hander Kevin Millwood, 37, has pitched well in the first half and could attract interest, but he signed as a non-roster invitee and presumably wouldn't bring back a big return at this point in his career.

How much any of those veterans might be worth to opposing general managers trying to improve their playoff chances down the stretch remains to be seen.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," said Zduriencik. "Clubs' needs create opportunities for them to step out and try to do something. I don't really know when someone will make a call that will create some sort of dialogue. We'll let it unfold before our eyes and see what happens. Right now I'm just in position of watching our group play, and we'll see where it goes."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.