An Analysis of Every Mariners Trade in the Jack Zduriencik Era

Jack ZduriencikOn October 22, 2008, the Seattle Mariners named Jack Zduriencik their newest General Manager. Assuming control of an organization that had been decimated by the foibles of its previous GM, Bill Bavasi, Zduriencik faced a daunting task in rebuilding the Mariners from the ground up.

Just 50 days after landing his new gig, Zduriencik made the first trade of his Mariners tenure. The trade was a blockbuster and would continue to have an impact on the ballclub four-and-a-half years later, where we find ourselves today.

In the aftermath of that initial deal, and leading up to our date of publication, May 28, 2013, Zduriencik proceeded to make 41 more trades for a total of 42 over four-plus seasons. The following is an analysis of all 42 of those transactions.

Trades are listed chronologically, from earliest to most recent. Players acquired in BOLD are current members of the Mariners organization. Grades associated with each trade are entirely subjective and reflective of the author’s opinion.

Trade No. 1: December 11, 2008

Teams involved: New York Mets, Cleveland Indians

Assets relinquished: P Sean Green (New York), P J.J. Putz (New York), OF Jeremy Reed (New York), INF Luis Valbuena (Cleveland)

Assets acquired: 1B Mike Carp, OF Ezequiel Carrera, OF Endy Chavez, P Maikel Cleto, OF Franklin Gutierrez, P Aaron Heilman, P Jason Vargas

Once upon a time, this trade was hailed as the definitive move of Jack Zduriencik’s Mariners tenure. A three-team swap that immediately resulted in a veritable coup for the Mariners, the hometown nine obtained a potential All-Star center fielder in Gutierrez and a solid big league starting pitcher in Vargas, among other pieces. Carp was a serviceable prospect, while Carrera, Cleto, and Heilman served as bargaining chips in subsequent trades. In all, nearly every asset acquired in this deal was maximized.

As the years have passed, however, the luster has worn from this gem of a deal. Putz, who floundered in the Big Apple, regained both his form and his role as closer with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Valbuena, a minor leaguer back in 2008, has proved serviceable with both the Indians and now the Chicago Cubs. Green and Reed became afterthoughts in the seasons following the trade.

The biggest factor in the waning sheen of this trade has been Gutierrez’s health, which has been inconsistent at best. His frequent bouts with injury have kept him off the field repeatedly in recent years, mitigating the vast talents he possesses both on offense and defense. However, silver linings have been found in follow-up dealings of players involved, such as Cleto (dealt for Brendan Ryan) and Vargas (dealt for Kendrys Morales).

Grade: B

Trade No. 2: January 20, 2009

Teams involved: Boston Red Sox

Assets relinquished: P Fabian Williamson

Assets acquired: P David Aardsma

Another trade hailed as a Zduriencik masterpiece, the Mariners gave up virtually nothing to obtain Aardsma, who went from being a career bullpen journeyman (filling a variety of roles, from long man, to middle relief, to setup) to a top-notch closer almost overnight. The hard-throwing right-hander nailed down 69 saves in ’09 and ’10 for Seattle before injuries left him as a non-tendered free agent entering the 2011 campaign. The M’s let Aardsma walk at that point and, to date, he has pitched just one big league inning since.

Grade: A

Trade No. 3: January 28, 2009

Teams involved: Chicago Cubs

Assets relinquished: P Aaron Heilman

Assets acquired: INF Ronny Cedeno, P Garrett Olson

It should be noted that of the three players involved in this deal, only one, Cedeno, is still an active major leaguer today. Perhaps that says something about the assets obtained in this swap, though one might argue that all three individuals are near non-factors.

Heilman is most noted for never appearing in a game as a Mariner, lasting only six weeks as part of the organization before being shipped out of town; he then proceeded to do very little with his career after departing. Cedeno filled a variety of roles in half a season with the team before being dealt to Pittsburgh at the ’09 non-waivers trade deadline. Olson was a constant commuter on the I-5 corridor between Seattle and Tacoma before being waived prior to the start of the 2011 season. Ultimately, one garage sale item turned into two future garage sale items. Eh.

Grade: C+

Trade No. 4: March 29, 2009

Teams involved: San Diego Padres

Assets relinquished: Cash

Assets acquired: INF Chris Burke

Chris Burke meant nothing to us.

Grade: C

Trade No. 5: April 21, 2009

Teams involved: San Diego Padres

Assets relinquished: INF Chris Burke

Assets acquired: Cash

Who knows for sure if either team profited financially off the Chris Burke rental. All we do know is that poor Burke wasn’t truly wanted by either club. His last recorded big league action came with the Padres in that fateful ’09 season.

Grade: C

Trade No. 6: June 28, 2009

Teams involved: Washington Nationals

Assets relinquished: INF Mike Morse

Assets acquired: OF Ryan Langerhans

The first of the trades to really come back and bite Zduriencik in the ass, this was initially thought of as a swap of “our failing prospect for your serviceable backup.” Lo and behold, it became so much more than that.

A former top prospect of the Atlanta Braves, Langerhans was a 29-year-old backup outfielder upon arriving in Seattle. Though he had seen action as a starter earlier in his career, it was clear by now that he’d be little more than a part-timer going forward. Over the course of his two-plus seasons as a Mariner, he played that role to perfection.

Morse, on the other hand, became a bona fide star in the nation’s capitol, turning in two-and-a-half great seasons of ball before being traded earlier this year to, you guessed it, Seattle. Now back in a Mariners uniform after seasoning elsewhere, Morse is facing an uncertain future entering his free agent offseason. Nevertheless, he’ll earn a nice payday from some team so long as he keeps performing as well as he has in 2013.

Grade: D-

Trade No. 7: July 10, 2009

Teams involved: Kansas City Royals

Assets relinquished: INF Yuniesky Betancourt

Assets acquired: P Daniel Cortes, P Derrick Saito

Who would have thought that nearly four years later Yuniesky Betancourt would still be a productive major leaguer? At the time of the trade, the prevailing emotion was amazement over Zduriencik’s ability to spin the floundering Betancourt into any returning assets at all. That Cortes and Saito were real, live people was a wonder in and of itself. The organization and fans alike were simply thrilled to be rid of Betancourt.

In hindsight, perhaps it was the way in which Betancourt was being utilized that created issues. In three-plus seasons since he was jettisoned by the M’s, the former starting shortstop has carved out a decent career as a super-sub, filling in at a number of positions around the infield for both Kansas City and Milwaukee. He has never lived up to his billing as a future star at the shortstop position, but he has provided value, however minimal, to teams that have found ways to implement him.

Cortes and Saito, meanwhile, fizzled out. Cortes saw brief stints in the Mariners’ bullpen, but ultimately became a free agent that hasn’t resurfaced. Saito also found his way to free agency, though has never logged time at the major league level.

What once was thought of as a brilliant maneuver by Jack Z. and Co. has dwindled over time.

Grade: C+

Trade No. 8: July 11, 2009

Teams involved: Oakland Athletics

Assets relinquished: P Justin Souza

Assets acquired: INF Jack Hannahan

Souza was and still is a non-factor. Hannahan was and still is a journeyman infielder. Nothing to see here.

Grade: B

Trade No. 9: July 29, 2009

Teams involved: Cincinnati Reds

Assets relinquished: OF Wladimir Balentien

Assets acquired: P Robert Manuel

Many years ago, Balentien was thought of as one of the Mariners’ top prospects. Of course, that was before anyone realized he couldn’t hit a breaking ball. Upon coming to that conclusion, the organization thought it would be best to part ways with the would-be power-hitter. They found a bartering partner in the Cincinnati Reds, who ponied up a nothing pitcher in exchange for a guy who would become, to date, a starting outfielder in Japan. Well then.

Grade: C+

Trade No. 10: July 29, 2009

Teams involved: Pittsburgh Pirates

Assets relinquished: P Nathan Adcock, INF Ronny Cedeno, C Jeff Clement, P Brett Lorin, P Aaron Pribanic

Assets acquired: P Ian Snell, SS Jack Wilson

There was always this hope that the team would somehow be able to acquire more than just a below-average pitcher and stopgap shortstop for the former No. 3 overall pick in the 2005 Draft. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case at all. However, in dealing Jeff Clement, the M’s got lucky (I guess) in that the catcher-turned-first baseman never materialized into the player he was supposed to be. Clement, along with Adcock, Lorin, and Pribanic, are career minor leaguers to date. Only Cedeno, as mentioned previously, still exists as a big leaguer.

These days, Snell is trying to revive his career in the independent leagues, while Wilson is now out of baseball. The M’s gave up quite a bit at the time to obtain what turned out to be very little. Neither team, though, should feel like they lost much of anything in this deal.

Grade: B-

Trade No. 11: July 31, 2009

Teams involved: Detroit Tigers

Assets relinquished: P Jarrod Washburn

Assets acquired: P Lucas French, P Mauricio Robles

Looking back on this trade, it appears on paper to be another ho-hum shoulder-shrug of a deal. Leading up to the 2009 non-waiver trade deadline, however, it was anything but that.

Washburn was one of the more sought after commodities at the ’09 deadline, a left-handed starting pitcher who had somehow rectified a rocky tenure in Seattle in the months preceding this moment. Rumors flew left and right over who would land Washburn and, in turn, what kind of haul the Mariners would reap for their departed asset. When all was said and done, the Tigers made a move to shore up their starting pitching and gave up very little in return.

French was a low-ceiling lefty with big league experience. He swung back and forth between Triple-A and the big leagues before finding the free agent wire after the 2011 season; he’s had nothing but minor league experience since.

Robles was the cornerstone of the deal, a hard-throwing southpaw who some had compared to a young Johan Santana. He worked his way up the M’s organization through last season, battling injuries along the way. In a move to clear space on the 40-man roster, Robles was waived in the 2013 offseason before being claimed by Philadelphia. Now pitching with the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate, Robles has pitched exclusively in relief, posting a 2-1 record with a 2.19 ERA and 1.14 WHIP along the way. At just 24 years of age, his potential remains intact.

Perhaps it’s the subsequent waiving of Robles, along with his untapped potential, that makes this trade sting a little bit. That, along with the fact that somehow, some way, Zduriencik and the M’s couldn’t find a way to maximize their chip in Washburn.

Grade: C-

Trade No. 12: August 5, 2009

Teams involved: Pittsburgh Pirates

Assets relinquished: INF Deybis Benitez

Assets acquired: P Mike Koplove

Lest you fear any repercussion from the loss of a prospect in this deal for a journeyman reliever who never so much as appeared in a big league game with the M’s, Benitez hasn’t played in the minor leagues since 2009. Stints with independent teams in the following years have given way to a statistical paper trail that comes to a halt in 2012.

Grade: C+

Trade No. 13: August 19, 2009

Teams involved: Milwaukee Brewers

Assets relinquished: P Ruben Flores

Assets acquired: INF/OF Bill Hall

Flores never became much of anything, while Hall was packaged with the infamous Player to be Named Later just five months later in a deal that netted Casey Kotchman. Perhaps we should be most angry about the fact that Hall begat Kotchman.

Grade: C+

Trade No. 14: September 18, 2009

Teams involved: Washington Nationals

Assets relinquished: C Jamie Burke

Assets acquired: Cash

The sale of Jamie Burke brought with it a few outcries solely for the fact that Burke had endeared himself to Seattle fans. Along with being one of gritty, scrappy veterans this area so loves, Burke will always be remembered for taking the mound at the back end of an extra-inning marathon game, pitching admirably in the process. Who knows how much the Nats paid for Burke; all we know is that his tenure in the Emerald City was nothing short of priceless.

Grade: B

Trade No. 15: December 16, 2009

Teams involved: Philadelphia Phillies

Assets relinquished: P Phillippe Aumont, OF Tyson Gillies, P J.C. Ramirez

Assets acquired: P Cliff Lee

This may forever and always be Jack Zduriencik’s signature deal during his Mariners tenure. Both then and now, this single trade is lauded as the team’s biggest win, the landing of an ace in Lee while relinquishing next-to-nothing in prospects. Over time, this trade in and of itself, separate from subsequent deals (more on that later), has actually gotten better. The Phillies were given their choice of acquiring Gillies or a different young outfielder in Michael Saunders. The Phils opted for Gillies, who has been an unadulterated disappointment, while Saunders became a starting center fielder in Seattle.

Of course, this deal is significantly mitigated by the trade that resulted in Lee going to Texas just a few short months later. That the Mariners had done to them by the Rangers what they themselves had done to Philadelphia half-a-year prior essentially brought the team back to square one. But again, in and of itself, this move was a masterpiece. If only such magic could be replicated time and again.

Grade: A+

Trade No. 16: December 18, 2009

Teams involved: Chicago Cubs

Assets relinquished: P Carlos Silva, Cash

Assets acquired: OF Milton Bradley

The swapping of one problem player for another brought with it a great deal of hope, if nothing else. In the end, however, both teams were left washing their hands of the acquired problems involved. Though neither team can truly be crowned a winner in this loser of a trade, the Cubs did receive cash from the M’s to offset part of Silva’s bloated contract. Money, it seems, is the only triumphant asset here.

Grade: C+

Trade No. 17: December 23, 2009

Teams involved: Toronto Blue Jays

Assets relinquished: P Brandon Morrow

Assets acquired: OF Johermyn Chavez, P Brandon League

Another unfortunate trade, Zduriencik and Co. gave up on Morrow before allowing him to realize his potential and, so far, it’s come back to bite the organization in the behind. Upon landing in Toronto, Morrow was revived as a starting pitcher only (sparing him of the roller coaster ride between rotation and bullpen he was subjected to in Seattle) and has gone on to showcase top-of-the-rotation ability. Though he’s dealt with injuries here and there, he has become a relied-upon presence as a Blue Jay.

The return the M’s received, meanwhile, has developed into a whole boatload of nothing. League was counted on as a closer for a short while before he turned into the second coming of Bobby Ayala. His shaky tenure as the team’s fireman ended when the M’s dealt him for a pair of middling prospects a season ago.

Chavez flashed potential in bursts, but never could force the Mariners to call him up or even keep him around. He became a minor league free agent after the 2012 season and now plays for the Cubs’ Double-A affiliate.

Grade: D

Trade No. 18: January 7, 2010

Teams involved: Boston Red Sox

Assets relinquished: INF/OF Bill Hall, PTBNL (P Miguel Celestino)

Assets acquired: 1B Casey Kotchman

Casey Kotchman. What a pain in the ass. This guy was supposed to be our starting first baseman. Instead, he flat-out sucked. Worst part is, he managed to last an entire year before departing for free agency after his one season as a Mariner. Sure, Hall did nothing with the remainder of his career and Celestino continues to toil in the Red Sox farm system, but come on. Kotchman? Really? He was awful. We could have had anyone else playing first base in 2010. Anyone else. And chances are, they would have been better than Kotchman. Consider that.

Grade: C-

Trade No. 19: June 22, 2010

Teams involved: Oakland Athletics

Assets relinquished: Cash

Assets acquired: 1B Tommy Everidge

Everidge was Triple-A filler who appeared in 29 major league games with the A’s the season prior to being obtained by the Mariners. Today, at 30 years of age, he’s trying to keep his career afloat in the independent leagues. Was the cash worth it? Guess that all depends on how much we spent.

Grade: B-

Trade No. 20: June 26, 2010

Teams involved: Cleveland Indians

Assets relinquished: OF Ezequiel Carrera, INF Juan Diaz

Assets acquired: 1B Russell Branyan

After enjoying the services of Branyan in 2009, Zduriencik and staff realized early on in 2010 that they had a fever and the only cure was more Branyan.

Though the M’s had let Branyan walk in free agency prior to the ’10 campaign, they attempted to rectify their mistake by parting with two mid-level prospects in Carrera (previously obtained from the Mets in the J.J. Putz/Franklin Gutierrez deal) and Diaz. Both Carrera and Diaz have enjoyed cups of coffee in the bigs with Cleveland, but neither player seems to be on the brink of anything special.

Branyan, meanwhile, appeared in just 57 games with the Mariners in 2010, hitting just .215 with 15 home runs along the way — this, after batting .251 with 31 home runs in ’09.

Though the trade itself wasn’t horrible, the circumstances surrounding the move were. The M’s could have signed Branyan in the 2010 offseason and chose not to. Instead, they were forced to give up two minor leaguers who actually made the bigs to reacquire a player who wasn’t nearly as good in Year 2 as he was in Year 1. Ridiculous.

Grade: C

Trade No. 21: July 9, 2010

Teams involved: Texas Rangers

Assets relinquished: P Cliff Lee, P Mark Lowe, cash

Assets acquired: P Blake Beavan, INF Matt Lawson, P Josh Lueke, 1B Justin Smoak

Should Jack Zduriencik lose his job in the near future, this is yet another one of those trades that pundits will point to when evaluating the failures of the Zduriencik era. In hindsight (which, as we all know, is twenty-twenty), this deal has been all but a bust for the Mariners. At the time, however, the reviews of the transactions were mixed, though seemingly favored Seattle. So where did it all go wrong?

The key to the deal was Smoak, who was considered one of baseball’s top prospects in 2010. He was major league ready and appeared to be on the brink of stardom. He was supposed to become the Mariners’ first baseman of the future. As we all know now, he hasn’t been that at all, and may never be. At this point, his ceiling appears to be that of a serviceable starter, rather than the All-Star he was once projected to become.

Beavan was a former first round pick who had the potential to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter. Now, though, the M’s would consider themselves lucky to be able to use him at the big league level. He hasn’t developed as planned and his talents are average, at best. Now 24, his potential is limited to back-end starter or relief pitcher.

Lawson was a throw-in to the deal who never materialized. He is now out of baseball.

Perhaps the most lucrative player obtained became Lueke, a reliever with a checkered past. Lueke enjoyed a mediocre 2011 campaign with the M’s, but really never proved worthwhile until after the season when he was sent to Tampa Bay for John Jaso. Jaso immediately became a fan favorite in Seattle, then was flipped for the second go-round with Mike Morse. Considering Lueke begat Jaso who begat Morse, this trade wasn’t a complete failure. Still, though, when you consider the chip the M’s had, an ace in Lee, the return haul was more than disappointing.

Grade: D

Trade No. 22: July 22, 2010

Teams involved: Boston Red Sox

Assets relinquished: INF Jack Hannahan

Assets acquired: Cash

Probably the best anyone could hope for when dealing a player of Hannahan’s caliber.

Grade: B

Trade No. 23: August 4, 2010

Teams involved: Philadelphia Phillies

Assets relinquished: 1B Mike Sweeney

Assets acquired: Cash

Though the 36-year-old Sweeney was a player of minimal future value to the Mariners at the time of his dealing, the first baseman had enjoyed enough success with Seattle and throughout his career that there was hope he could bring in more than just petty cash in a trade. Alas, that wasn’t the case at all. The Mariners took the money and ran, knowing there was little else Sweeney could provide for the ballclub going forward.

Grade: C+

Trade No. 24: December 2, 2010

Teams involved: Colorado Rockies

Assets relinquished: INF Jose Lopez

Assets acquired: P Chaz Roe

No one cared that Roe was a nobody who would never materialize and would ultimately become a pitcher for the Laredo Lemurs of the independent American Association. Nope, all anyone cared about is that the team rid itself of the albatross that was Jose Lopez. By god, Slopez was an All-Star once.

Grade: C+

Trade No. 25: December 12, 2010

Teams involved: St. Louis Cardinals

Assets relinquished: P Maikel Cleto

Assets acquired: SS Brendan Ryan

As mentioned earlier, Cleto’s greatest contribution to the organization after being obtained in the epic Putz/Gutierrez deal was in bringing us Ryan, who’s been a defensive stalwart at shortstop. Now a hard-throwing reliever that’s gone back and forth between the Cardinals and their Triple-A affiliate, Cleto’s ceiling is low enough to give the overwhelming victory in this trade to the Mariners.

Grade: A-

Trade No. 26: December 21, 2010

Teams involved: San Diego Padres

Assets relinquished: C Rob Johnson

Assets acquired: Cash

Rob Johnson was supposed to be a good defensive catcher who would struggle with the bat. Problem is, he was actually a subpar defensive catcher who couldn’t hit worth a lick. That ultimately led to his being pawned off on San Diego, where he never became anything more than he was in Seattle.

Oddly enough, Johnson resurfaced a few weeks back with the Memphis Redbirds, St. Louis’ Triple-A affiliate, where he was a battery mate of…Maikel Cleto.

Grade: B-

Trade No. 27: March 2, 2011

Teams involved: Cleveland Indians

Assets relinquished: INF Matt Lawson, cash

Assets acquired: P Aaron Laffey

Lawson, acquired in the Cliff Lee with Texas, was a nobody going nowhere. In all likelihood, he was probably the throw-in to this deal, as well, a sweetener to the money being ponied up for the left-hander Laffey. Laffey joined the M’s and had an up-and-down half-season before being waived and claimed by the Yankees. He’s since embarked on an odyssey around baseball, playing in Kansas City, in New York with the Mets, in Toronto, back to the Mets, back to the Blue Jays, and now with the Dodgers organization.

Grade: B

Trade No. 28: July 29, 2011

Teams involved: Arizona Diamondbacks

Assets relinquished: OF Ryan Langerhans

Assets acquired: Cash

The worst part about the selling of Ryan Langerhans was the fact that his departure coincided with the rise of Mike Morse in Washington D.C. The move that brought Langerhans to Seattle was a disaster; the move that jettisoned him was none too surprising.

Grade: B-

Trade No. 29: July 30, 2011

Teams involved: Detroit Tigers

Assets relinquished: P Doug Fister, P David Pauley

Assets acquired: P Charlie Furbush, INF Francisco Martinez, OF Casper Wells, PTBNL (P Chance Ruffin)

Yet another deal that has bombed in spectacular fashion for Zduriencik and Co., Fister is now one of the better pitchers in the American League, while only one-half of the return the Mariners netted is still part of the organization — Furbush and Ruffin remain, while Wells was waived in April, and Martinez designated for assignment in recent days.

Of the remaining assets, Furbush has established himself as a solid left-handed option out of the bullpen, while Ruffin appears to be little more than Triple-A filler at this point. Fister, of course, has continued to blossom with the Tigers, while Pauley’s 15 minutes ran out shortly after he was dealt to the Motor City (in an odd bit of news, Pauley was signed to a minor league deal by the M’s in 2012 before getting suspended for violating MLB’s performance-enhancing drug policy; Pauley is now a free agent).

It’s become en vogue as of late to cite this deal as the worst trade of the Zduriencik era. Though there are other contenders in the field, the continued excellence of Fister certainly makes this transaction one of the leaders in the clubhouse when it comes to futility.

Grade: F

Trade No. 30: July 31, 2011

Teams involved: Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers

Assets relinquished: P Erik Bedard (Boston), P Josh Fields (Boston)

Assets acquired: IF/OF Chih-Hsien Chiang, OF Trayvon Robinson

Heralded as two could-be prospects upon their arrival, neither Chiang nor Robinson still exist in the M’s organization. Chiang was designated for assignment in 2012 and now toils in the Rangers’ organization. Robinson was dealt to Baltimore for Robert Andino, was was recently designated for assignment, himself. In all, the M’s have nothing to show for their dealing of a guy who, when healthy, was a serviceable big league starter, as well as a former first-round pick in Fields who now finds himself in the Astros’ bullpen.

Grade: D

Trade No. 31: August 31, 2011

Teams involved: Atlanta Braves

Assets relinquished: SS Jack Wilson

Assets acquired: PTBNL (INF Luis Caballero)

Caballero is just 20 years of age and, thus far, has only suited up for the Mariners’ Dominican Summer League team. At this point, he has to be considered a longshot to make the major leagues anywhere down the line.

Wilson, upon being dealt, was an aging shortstop who couldn’t hit and was on the verge of the end of his career. In Caballero, the Mariners were able to get about what anyone would expect them to get for a player of Wilson’s caliber.

Grade: B

Trade No. 32: November 27, 2011

Teams involved: Tampa Bay Rays

Assets relinquished: P Josh Lueke, cash

Assets acquired: C John Jaso

Reminiscent of the David Aardsma-Fabian Williamson swap of a couple years prior, Zduriencik found a diamond in the rough in Jaso and gave up little to obtain him. That Jaso would go on to land the M’s a middle-of-the-order power bat in Mike Morse a year later made the legend of this deal even greater. One of the better trades of Zduriencik’s tenure.

Grade: A

Trade No. 33: January 23, 2012

Teams involved: New York Yankees

Assets relinquished: P Jose Campos, P Michael Pineda

Assets acquired: C Jesus Montero, P Hector Noesi

It’s only been 16 months since this deal became official and yet the wheels have already fallen off for both teams. Pineda has yet to appear in a game for the Yankees because of his injury, but who really cares about the Yankees, anyway? Upon returning to action, Pineda can only hope to regain the form that made him an All-Star in his one season in Seattle. On top of that, the left-hander Campos has shown promise throughout his tenure in the minors and could make an impact down the line.

For the Mariners, the highly publicized travails of Montero culminated in his demotion to Triple-A Tacoma just a few days ago. His return to the big leagues is indefinite and may come later rather than sooner; a transition to learning first base could slow development, though the future is entirely dependent on Montero’s bat. Regardless, things don’t look so great right now for the former top prospect.

The only temporary hope for salvaging this deal comes in the form of Hector Noesi, who has struggled to be anything more than a bad major league pitcher over the past year-plus. If he can ever supplement raw ability with command of his pitches, he may just be able to figure things out. Until then, we cringe and we wait.

Like Justin Smoak before him, Jesus Montero’s success is inextricably linked to the fate of Jack Zduriencik. Should neither of these prospects bear fruit with the M’s, Zduriencik will be forced to go down with his metaphorical sinking ships.

Grade: C

Trade No. 34: July 23, 2012

Teams involved: New York Yankees

Assets relinquished: OF Ichiro Suzuki

Assets acquired: P Danny Farquhar, P D.J. Mitchell

To think that a legend with an expiring contract could only net the Mariners two journeymen pitchers is almost sad. The reality is, the organization was so paralyzed by Ichiro’s presence that disposing him for nearly nothing in return was the only option the Mariners saw to be viable. Hence, the Ichiro era hastily became the Danny Farquhar/D.J. Mitchell era.

Though Farquhar is trying to make a name for himself in the Mariners’ bullpen as we speak, Mitchell has already come and gone, having been waived by the M’s at the start of the 2013 season. Will Farquhar, a hard-throwing right-handed reliever, be able to justify the Ichiro trade on his own? It remains to be seen, but is certainly unlikely.

Who knows if the team could have received anything more for Ichiro had Ichiro been willing to play elsewhere (he did have to approve a trade to New York before it could be made). No matter, the reality is that this trade happened and there ain’t too much we can do about it now.

Grade: C-

Trade No. 35: July 30, 2012

Teams involved: Toronto Blue Jays

Assets relinquished: P Steve Delabar

Assets acquired: OF Eric Thames

Delabar was a hard-throwing reliever who the Mariners plucked from the substitute teaching ranks (seriously, he was a teacher). Thames has never gotten a real solid look at the big league level, though has produced in Triple-A. Where will this trade take us down the line? Only time will tell.

Grade: B-

Trade No. 36: July 30, 2012

Teams involved: Los Angeles Dodgers

Assets relinquished: P Brandon League

Assets acquired: P Logan Bawcom, OF Leon Landry

Both Bawcom and Landry are currently present in the Mariners’ farm system, Bawcom at Triple-A Tacoma, Landry at Double-A Jackson. Neither one, however, is forecasted for a future filled with stardom.

Perhaps the greatest travesty in dealing Brandon League for a pair of middle-of-the-road prospects is that just one year prior the organization could have dealt League for so much more. As an All-Star closer in 2011, League was in high demand around baseball. The M’s opted to hold onto League for reasons unknown and League rewarded them by regressing in 2012.

Maybe it’s just that the Mariners have never been great at selling high, or maybe they truly didn’t believe they were selling low on League. Either way, the team’s former closer hasn’t done much to hurt the M’s, having endured some equally awful ninth innings with the Dodgers.

Grade: C

Trade No. 37: November 20, 2012

Teams involved: Baltimore Orioles

Assets relinquished: OF Trayvon Robinson

Assets acquired: INF Robert Andino

In time, this trade will likely be forgotten about. Right now, however, it’s a total bust thanks to Andino being cut just a few short days ago. Who knows what Robinson may or may not become, the fact remains that he is still a member of the Orioles’ organization. Thus, one has to figure that the team could have installed damn near anyone else in their vacant utility infield role and spared themselves the relinquishing of an asset at the same time. Alas.

Grade: C-

Trade No. 38: December 19, 2012

Teams involved: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Assets relinquished: P Jason Vargas

Assets acquired: 1B Kendrys Morales

A trade based on a need-for-a-need, the dependable Vargas was dealt to a division rival (gasp!) in exchange for the power-hitting Morales. In his first go-round with the Angels, Vargas has been fair, posting a 4-3 record, 3.43 ERA, and 1.39 WHIP thus far in 2013.

Morales, meanwhile, has been a boon to the Mariners’ batting order. Of late, he’s been the team’s hottest hitter. On the year, he’s hitting an even .300 with six home runs, 28 RBI, and an .852 OPS. This is a contract year for Morales, and as a Scott Boras client, there’s no guarantee Morales would re-sign with the M’s in the offseason. It’s entirely possible that Zduriencik’s next trade may be a flip of his big first baseman. Only time will tell.

Grade: B+

Trade No. 39: January 16, 2013

Teams involved: Washington Nationals, Oakland Athletics

Assets relinquished: C John Jaso

Assets acquired: OF Mike Morse

Read above for all the details that led up to this trade. No need to elaborate further.

Grade: B+

Trade No. 40: February 13, 2013

Teams involved: New York Yankees

Assets relinquished: P Shawn Kelley

Assets acquired: OF Abraham Almonte

Though Kelley may be an active big leaguer, he is what he is and will likely be nothing more than that. As that vague as that statement may be, Kelley’s ceiling has likely been reached; he’s destined to be, at his peak, a middle reliever on a big league club. While middle relievers are a necessity for any bullpen, they’re basically a dime a dozen. Giving up Kelley for a 23-year-old outfield prospect was entirely worth it.

We don’t yet know what Almonte’s future holds, but he has been hitting well at both Double-A and Triple-A so far this year. Whether or not that translates into a big league career remains to be seen. Nevertheless, Kelley was a guy who filled a roster spot while Almonte is a beacon of hope, if nothing more.

Grade: B

Trade No. 41: February 20, 2013

Teams involved: Boston Red Sox

Assets relinquished: OF Mike Carp

Assets acquired: Cash or PTBNL

Having not yet obtained the infamous Player to be Named Later in this deal, we don’t really know what we’ve acquired in return for Carp, whose time was basically up in Seattle. On the verge of his 27th birthday, it will be difficult for Carp to salvage his career and make the Mariners pay for giving up on him. But who knows. Stranger things have happened.

Grade: Incomplete

Trade No. 42: April 11, 2013

Teams involved: Colorado Rockies

Assets relinquished: P Steven Hensley

Assets acquired: P Aaron Harang, cash

Harang was brought to Seattle out of desperation: failures among the candidates filling the fifth spot in the team’s starting rotation necessitated an acquisition. Harang has been nothing if not inconsistent since arriving, providing a bit of an adventure each time he takes the mound. His starts range from a complete game shutout in his most recent outing to sub-five-inning blowups resulting in seven and eight runs, respectively, just a few appearances back. Whether or not Harang can provide a lift as the season wears on matters little — he’s here to eat innings and help us get through the summer, nothing more, nothing less.

Hensley is a 26-year-old right-handed reliever closing games for Colorado’s Double-A affiliate in Tulsa. Should he find his way to the bigs, his ceiling will be tempered by the fact that he’s just a bit too old to be considered a prospect anymore.

This trade happened. It was a thing. Long-term, it won’t matter at all.

Grade: B

13 thoughts on “An Analysis of Every Mariners Trade in the Jack Zduriencik Era”

  1. “On the verge of his 27th birthday, it will be difficult for Carp to salvage his career and make the Mariners pay for giving up on him. But who knows. Stranger things have happened.”

    Strange things are happening.

  2. Good piece, but I have to quibble with the grade for the July 2009 trade with Pittsburgh that brought in Jack Wilson and Ian Snell. While none of the players sent to the Pirates in the deal, not even Jeff Clement, amounted to much, that deal is a lot worse than it looks on its surface due to the money paid to Wilson and Snell in 2010 ($9.5 million) and Wilson in 2011 ($5 million). That money could have gone to players that were actually productive, especially in ’10, when the M’s were supposedly trying to contend (Believe Big!). The failures of Wilson and Snell were a non insignificant factor in the tanking of the 2010 team,. To me, this deal definitely rates a D or an F.

  3. forgot to mention the Figgins free agent sign. Jack is way over his head. But i love it cuz im an Angel fan. The Orginization is a bunch of losers. Keep up the good work guys.

  4. Your content material demonstrates you happen to
    be rather savvy and perfect for writing attention-catching articles or blog
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    I’ll reimburse you on your work (by the hour, per posting, .etc).

  5. seattle mariners are a terrible team with an equally terrible GM and field manager. I doubt they know their own personal lack of choosing talent and I doubt they even know the game of baseball and how to win.

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