An Updated Analysis of Every Mariners Trade in the Jack Zduriencik Era

Jack Zduriencik*The following is an update from a previous post analyzing every trade of the Jack Zduriencik era in Seattle. Analysis on every transaction has been updated to reflect the passage of time, while an additional 13 trades have been added to the list.

On 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 deal was a blockbuster and would continue to have an impact on the ballclub five-and-a-half years later, where we find ourselves today.

Since that first trade in December of 2008, Zduriencik has proceeded to make 54 more trades for a total of 55 over five-plus seasons. The following is an analysis of all 55 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 proven 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 journeyman (filling a variety of bullpen 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 in just 44 big league games 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, none reside on a major league roster 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; he currently plays for the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate.

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; he has not played organized baseball since being released by the Doosan Bears of the Korea Baseball Organization in 2013. 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 capital, turning in two-and-a-half great seasons of ball before being offloaded in 2013 to, naturally, Seattle.

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

At the time of this 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 four-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 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. Betancourt signed on to play with the Orix Buffaloes of the Nippon Professional Baseball league in January, but was released on July 22, 2014.

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 superstar home run hitter 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 Mariners 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.

In dealing Jeff Clement, the M’s got lucky (sort of) in that the catcher-turned-first baseman never did materialize into the player he was supposed to become. He ultimately announced his retirement from baseball, at the age of 30, on March 31, 2014.

Nothing came of Adcock, Lorin, and Pribanic, but Cedeno, as mentioned previously, still toils on the outskirts of major league baseball.

Snell, who was rumored to be a first-class prick, attempted to revive his career in the independent leagues to no avail. Wilson retired from baseball at the end of the 2012 season.

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 2012, 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. The 25-year-old Robles became a free agent after the 2013 campaign and signed a minor league deal with the White Sox. He has not appeared in any games with the White Sox or their minor league affiliates this season, however, after enduring an injury.

Regardless of the fate of all players in this deal, the biggest gripe with this move is that Zduriencik and the M’s couldn’t find a way to get more for such a highly coveted (at the time) trade chip.

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 becoming one of the gritty, scrappy veterans that fans around here gravitate towards, 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 unmitigated disappointment, while Saunders has become a serviceable outfielder in Seattle.

Of course, this deal is significantly minimized 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. 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 — when healthy. The litany of injuries the right-hander has endured puts a damper on any triumph the Blue Jays could claim in this deal.

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 in 2012.

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 toils at the Single-A level in the Kansas City Royals’ organization.

Grade: C-

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 at all. 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, he serves as the hitting coach for the Vermont Lake Monsters in the Yankees’ farm system.

Was the cash worth it, though? Guess that all depends on how much we spent.

Grade: C

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 (a similar deal would be replicated some four years later … more on that later).

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. Diaz enjoyed a cup of coffee in the bigs with Cleveland, while Carrera has logged playing time with the Indians, Phillies, and Tigers. Neither player seems to be on the brink of anything special, however.

Branyan, meanwhile, appeared in 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 25, his future as a major leaguer is very much in doubt.

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 team’s second go-round with Mike Morse. Considering Lueke begat Jaso who begat Morse, this trade wasn’t a complete failure. Still, 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, Josie Slopez was an All-Star once.

Grade: B-

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 became 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 lend 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.

Johnson bounced from San Diego to St. Louis, then back to San Diego in the 2013-2014 offseason. As of the start of the 2014 season, Johnson was attempting to rekindle his career by converting to pitching. We’ll send out a smoke signal if that ever becomes a legitimate thing.

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 Taffey, as the kids never called him, 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, with the Dodgers organization, the Brewers organization, the Orioles’ farm system, and finally now the Nationals’ system. Here’s hoping Laffey signed up for a frequent flyer mileage plan at some point.

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 National League, while only one-fourth of the return the Mariners netted is still part of the organization — Furbush remains, while Wells was waived in 2013, Martinez dealt back to Detroit (more later), and Ruffin retired in 2014.

Furbush has established himself as a viable left-handed option out of the bullpen, but will always (unfortunately) be compared to the man for whom he was dealt.

Fister, of course, has continued to blossom, first with Detroit, then later with the Washington Nationals.

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 incurring a suspension for violating MLB’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Most recently, he’s suited up as a teammate of Tracy McGrady’s with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League.

It’s become en vogue as of late to cite this deal as the worst trade of the Zduriencik era. Though there are certainly 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 Orioles’ farm system. Robinson was dealt to Baltimore for Robert Andino, was never became much of anything with Seattle.

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 22 years of age and seems to be destined for a life of minor league filler in the M’s organization. A third baseman by trade, he currently resides in Clinton as a member of the Single-A LumberKings.

Wilson, upon being dealt, was an aging shortstop who couldn’t hit and was on the verge of the end of his career. He retired in 2012.

Grade: C

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 only spend a year in Seattle before being dealt once again is the biggest tragedy to emerge from this coup.

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

In the two-plus years since this deal became official, the wheels have seemingly fallen off for all players involved on both sides of the swap.

Pineda has battled both injury and scandal (of the pine tar variety) throughout his entire Yankees tenure. The pinnacle of his career, to date, remains his All-Star rookie season with the Mariners in 2011.

The once-promising Campos, now 22 years of age, has seen his development stall at the Single-A level. He appears to be a longshot to further his career to the majors.

For the Mariners, the highly publicized travails of Montero culminated in a 2013 suspension for performance-enhancing drugs (that didn’t work, one might add). Though he’s rebounded with a decent performance at the Triple-A level and the occasional call-up to the bigs, the hope for Montero to become the “next Miguel Cabrera” as all but run out.

Noesi, meanwhile, was a complete and utter disaster with the Mariners. Synonymous with unbridled ineptitude, Noesi landed among the ranks of the most hated M’s of all-time before being jettisoned to Texas early in the 2014 season. He has since embarked upon the path to his own personal redemption as a member of the Chicago White Sox starting rotation.

Though the future of those involved in this deal remains indefinite, the fact is the Mariners parted with an All-Star power arm for what has amounted to very little in return. That alone makes this deal a bust.

Grade: D+

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.

Thankfully, Farquhar has salvaged this trade by becoming a reliable setup man in the M’s bullpen. Mitchell, however, has since come and gone, having been waived by the M’s at the start of the 2013 season.

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). Despite that, Farquhar has become an integral piece for the Mariners both now and in the future. Zduriencik uncovered a diamond in the rough with this move.

Grade: B

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 substitute teacher). He’s gone onto decent success in Toronto, though, and even made the All-Star team in 2013.

Thames never materialized with the M’s and was shuttled to Baltimore in 2013 in a subsequent move. His failure in Seattle, along with Delabar’s blossoming in Toronto, has given the clear-cut victory in this trade to the Jays.

Grade: D-

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 outings 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 less than two years’ time, this trade has become a complete afterthought. Robinson has become minor league filler while Andino fizzled out in Seattle and returned to a role as minor league filler with other organizations. Nothing to see here.

Grade: C

Trade No. 38: December 19, 2012

Teams involved: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Assets relinquished: P Jason Vargas

Assets acquired: 1B/DH Kendrys Morales

A trade based on a need-for-a-need, the dependable Vargas was dealt to a division rival in exchange for the power-hitting Morales. Vargas has since latched on with the Kansas City Royals and remains a dependable back-of-the-rotation arm.

Morales, meanwhile, became a boon to the Mariners’ batting order in 2013. After a successful one-year stint in Seattle, Morales opted for free agency and proceeded to go unsigned into the start of the 2014 season. He finally inked a deal with Minnesota in June, but did little to replicate his success of a year prior.

Leading up to the 2014 trade deadline, the M’s attempted to reprise a deal made four years ago (see: Trade No. 20 on this list) and reacquired Morales from the Twins. It remains to be seen how the 31-year-old Cuban will impact the Mariners down the stretch of the 2014 season. In his initial obtainment, however, the switch-hitting power bat was nothing short of spectacular.

Grade: B+

Trade No. 39: January 16, 2013

Teams involved: Washington Nationals, Oakland Athletics

Assets relinquished: C John Jaso

Assets acquired: OF Michael Morse

This one trade alone could serve as a microcosm of Jack Zduriencik, general manager. The initial acquisition of the asset relinquished, Jaso, was a complete win for the organization. The subsequent dealing of Jaso, though, was met with some skepticism that later became full-fledged disappointment as Morse floundered in his second go-round with Seattle. The dealing of Morse later on for minor league outfielder Xavier Avery then underscored just how odd a lineage Zduriencik had borne out of some of his deals.

For those keeping score at home, this singular deal was spawned all the back in 2009 when the Mariners acquired Cliff Lee from Philadelphia (trade No. 15 on the list). Lee was pawned off at the 2010 trade deadline for a package that included reliever Josh Lueke, who was later dealt to Tampa Bay for Jaso. The acquisition of Jaso ultimately begat this trade for Morse, which stands as an example of a bad deal. When traced back to its roots, however, Lueke-for-Jaso-for-Morse doesn’t seem as awful. But Lee for a package including Lueke? Disastrous. And the deal that brought Lee to Seattle? Incredible.

If there’s anything we know about Jack Zduriencik, it’s that he has the potential to turn a great deal into a bad one, a bad deal into a great one, and a great deal back into a bad one all before half a decade has elapsed. The cyclical nature of it all may just blow your mind.

Grade: D

Trade No. 40: February 13, 2013

Teams involved: New York Yankees

Assets relinquished: P Shawn Kelley

Assets acquired: OF Abraham Almonte

Kelley has become a serviceable setup man for the Yankees the past two seasons, while Almonte tried (and failed) to become the Mariners’ starting center fielder. Having been recently dealt for outfielder Chris Denorfia, Almonte’s tenure in Seattle, however brief, has ended. Should Denorfia help carry Seattle to a 2014 playoff berth, though, this will all be worth it.

Grade: C

Trade No. 41: February 20, 2013

Teams involved: Boston Red Sox

Assets relinquished: OF Mike Carp

Assets acquired: Cash

Carp almost turned this into a bad deal by showcasing occasional flashes of brilliance with the Red Sox. He bit off a bit more than he could chew, however, when he asked for a trade out of Boston in 2014.

His future in doubt, he was waived by the Sox and claimed on August 3, 2014 by the Texas Rangers. His career will apparently continue in Arlington, where he may or may not prove the cash obtained by the Mariners in his departure worthwhile.

Grade: C

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 early in the 2013 campaign. The team had no viable options to fill out their starting rotation and turned to the veteran righty for help. In four-and-a-half months’ worth of work, Harang was mostly awful during his time in Seattle. He was mercifully released in August, 2013 and has since spent time with the Mets and Braves.

Hensley, a 27-year-old right-handed reliever, is nothing more than organizational filler at this stage in his career. He currently pitches for the Bowie Baysox, the Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.

This trade happened. It was a thing. Or maybe it was nothing. Overall, it was something.

Grade: C+

Trade No. 43: June 2, 2013

Teams involved: Detroit Tigers

Assets relinquished: 3B Francisco Martinez

Assets acquired: PTBNL or Cash

Oh god. This thing is starting to spiral out of control now. Martinez was supposed to be the centerpiece of the aforementioned Fister-Furbush deal (No. 29 on our list). Instead, he scuffled his way through the Mariners’ farm system before being dealt back to Detroit in exchange for basically nothing. What the hell happened here?

The quiet departure of Martinez largely went unnoticed, which is without question what the organization preferred. Somehow, Zduriencik managed to buy high and sell low on the now-23-year-old infield prospect, who’s hitting just .232 for Detroit’s Double-A squad thus far in 2014.

Yeah, Martinez didn’t turn out. But the sheer notion of the M’s returning him to the team that originally gave him up leaves a sour residue in the mouths of all who paid witness to the maturation of a Fister-Furbush trade gone wrong.

Grade: C-

Trade No. 44: June 9, 2013

Teams involved: Oakland Athletics

Assets relinquished: 3B Vinnie Catricala

Assets acquired: Cash

Okay, so the M’s didn’t exactly fleece the A’s — they only received an indeterminate amount of cash, after all — but they certainly won this deal, which doesn’t happen very often when bartering with Billy Beane.

Proving victorious in this under-the-radar trade wasn’t without some trepidation, however. Catricala was a former Minor League Player of the Year in the Mariners organization and not two years removed from a .349/.421/.601/1.021 season that took place at the High-A and Double-A levels. Struggles in Triple-A made the then-24-year-old expendable. Oakland was willing to give the University of Hawaii product a gamble. Their gamble ultimately proved fruitless.

Seven months after relocating to the Bay Area, Catricala announced his retirement from baseball. A native of Sacramento, he’s now reportedly enrolled in the Sacramento Police Academy, working towards a new career in law enforcement.

The A’s have nothing left to show for this transaction. But somewhere buried deep within a bank account filled with hard-earned Nintendo money sits the Mariners’ end of the bargain, just valuable enough to pay for a few extra stadium ushers or a bushelful of bobbleheads. Until we meet again, Oakland.

Grade: A

Trade No. 45: June 30, 2013

Teams involved: Baltimore Orioles

Assets relinquished: OF Eric Thames

Assets acquired: INF/OF Ty Kelly

There are some pundits out there who remain absolutely convinced that 26-year-old career minor leaguer Ty Kelly is the next Jose Bautista, deserving of an opportunity in the majors because just look at those minor league stats!

Never mind that Kelly has yet to face a major league pitcher, or that he’s but a career .286 hitter (across three seasons) at the Triple-A Level. This is Ty Freakin’ Kelly we’re talking about! Sure, he might not yet be the next Willie Bloomquist, but he could be that … and so much more!

So why, then, was Baltimore so quick to let Kelly go for journeyman Eric Thames, who they subsequently cut just three months after this deal came to fruition? What did they see in Thames, who now patrols the outfield for the Changwon NC Dinos of the Korean Professional Baseball League (not affiliated with the Korea Baseball Organization, mind you), that they did not see in Kelly?

Maybe it’s that Kelly has been slapped with the dreaded Quad-A label, not good enough for the bigs, but a borderline All-Star in the minors’ highest affiliation. But who knows for sure. The jury’s still technically out on Kelly, while the jury — or baesim, as they might say in Changwon — has already reached its verdict on Thames.

Grade: B

Trade No. 46: July 6, 2013

Teams involved: Baltimore Orioles

Assets relinquished: INF/OF Alex Liddi, International Signing Bonus Slot No. 3

Assets acquired: International Signing Bonus Slot No. 2

There are all sorts of jokes to be made here about the “No. 2 Slot” the Mariners acquired, but we’ll skip those for now. Frankly, does anyone actually know what the International Signing Bonus or any of its associated slots mean? Someone should really go look it up. Give me a minute here and … yes, of course, here it is. On the only site I trust, no less.

According to Wikipedia, ISB Slot No. 3 carries a monetary value of $277,500. ISB Slot No. 2, on the other hand, holds a value of $351,200. So basically, the Mariners swapped their former third base prospect for a one-slot signing bonus improvement worth about $73,700. That kind of financial windfall could pay for one really great IT guy, which should not go overlooked.

Anyway, if you’re interested in what Liddi’s up to these days, here it comes.

After the 2013 season, the native Italian became a minor league free agent and inked a deal with the Chicago White Sox organization. One month into the 2014 campaign, the White Sox released Liddi.

All was not lost, however, as Liddi caught on shortly thereafter with the Albuquerque Isotopes of the Los Angeles Dodgers system, which you may recall as the team that also employed Miguel Olivo … before he bit off part of teammate Alex Guerrero’s ear.

After hitting just .219 with the Isotopes, the 25-year-old Liddi (he’ll be 26 on August 14th) was demoted to Double-A, which certainly doesn’t bode well for his long-term future. All told, the M’s gave up a fizzling project for a monetary mystery that, who knows, may very well lead to the signing of the next Alex Liddi. And then we start all over again…

Grade: C+

Trade No. 47: July 31, 2013

Teams involved: Pittsburgh Pirates

Assets relinquished: INF Robert Andino

Assets acquired: PTBNL or Cash

Far as I can tell, the Mariners never received a nameless player for their liquidation of Andino. By process of elimination, then, one could reasonably infer that they took home some cash for the veteran infielder. Crazy how much this organization that is very much into winning and not at all into profits, Profits, PROFITS is into dealing assets for cold, hard cash.

But that’s beside the point. Point is, the M’s (like most major league ballclubs) realized they could live without a below-replacement-level veteran who had long ago hit his ceiling. As a result, Andino was sent off to Pittsburgh, where he was then assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis, which he still calls home today. Ignore that .207 average, though. The 30-year-old is surely on the up-and-up.

Grade: B-

Trade No. 48: August 30, 2013

Teams involved: Baltimore Orioles

Assets relinquished: OF Michael Morse

Assets acquired: OF Xavier Avery

Does it weird you out that of the eight trades Jack Zduriencik made during the 2013 regular season, three of them were with the Baltimore Orioles? You have to wonder what he and Orioles GM Dan Duquette find so appealing about one another. In Zduriencik’s case, perhaps it’s that Duquette happens to be the guy who once dealt Jamie Moyer for Darren Bragg. Or maybe they both feel like they’re capable of pulling the wool over one another’s eyes. Duquette’s been fired from a GM job before and Zduriencik’s flirted with it, so at least they have a good icebreaker when sending trade proposals via Snapchat.

Another weird thing about this deal: it marked the second time Zduriencik was afforded the opportunity to trade Michael (nee Mike) Morse, which deserves a medal of some sort. The first time Morse was unloaded it became a colossal failure. The second time? Well … Morse is putting up pretty good numbers in San Francisco right now. But in fairness, he did become a free agent after the 2014 season ended, meaning there was no guarantee the M’s would have retained his services anyway.

All told, the M’s were pressed to move Morse in the midst of a lost season. Xavier Avery isn’t exactly setting the world on fire in the Mariners’ farm system, but he remains an organizational commodity, something the Orioles no longer possess in the wake of this deal.

Grade: C+

Trade No. 49: September 10, 2013

Teams involved: New York Yankees

Assets relinquished: SS Brendan Ryan

Assets acquired: PTBNL

Wait. Don’t they have a trade deadline in Major League Baseball? Doesn’t it happen to fall at the end of July? And don’t they have another trade deadline in Major League Baseball? And doesn’t that one land at the end of August? So what the hell are the Mariners and Yankees doing making trades in September?!

Yeah, it makes no sense. It seems baseball’s trade deadline is as strictly enforced as the steroid restrictions of the 1990s. But I digress.

Eleven months after this move was made, Zduriencik may very well want a redo. Brendan Ryan couldn’t hit a lick, but he was one hell of a defensive shortstop. The Mariners replaced Ryan with the up-and-coming Brad Miller, who came up and hit about as well as Ryan once did, while not quite providing the same caliber of defense. Eyeballing the logic here doesn’t seem favorable to the M’s, and god only knows if the player Seattle was supposed to fetch in return for Ryan has even been named yet.

This wasn’t a big deal. It may never amount to being a big deal, even in hindsight. But ask the Mariners if they could use a defensive improvement at shortstop in the thick of a playoff race and they probably wouldn’t hesitate to nod their heads feverishly.

Grade: D+

Trade No. 50: December 13, 2013

Teams involved: Miami Marlins

Assets relinquished: P Carter Capps

Assets acquired: 1B Logan Morrison

It’s not often you see a one-for-one swap of major league talent, but the M’s managed just that in their final deal of the 2013 calendar year. Okay, so maybe reliever Carter Capps isn’t considered full-time major league talent, but he’s logged enough innings at the highest level to warrant the distinction. As of right now, though, the hard-throwing righty remains on the sidelines with a sprain in his throwing shoulder (uh-oh).

Logan Morrison, on the other hand, has emerged as the Mariners’ de facto starting first baseman. Thanks to Justin Smoak’s continued ineptitude and a pesky injury here or there, LoMo gets the chance to prove he belongs in the lineup each day. He hasn’t been a world beater thus far, but he’s been better than, say, Joe Borchard, who the team long ago obtained in a similar one-for-one swap in exchange for southpaw reliever Matt Thornton. That deal backfired just a bit. So far, though, this deal looks nothing like that one.

Grade: B-

Trade No. 51: April 12, 2014

Teams involved: Texas Rangers

Assets relinquished: P Hector Noesi

Assets acquired: PTBNL or Cash

God bless cash. Without it, the Rangers never would have been able to take Hector Noesi off the Mariners’ hands. Without it, the M’s would have been forced to release Noesi, receiving nothing in return for the misery he imposed upon this ballclub and its fans for the previous two seasons.

Sure, Noesi has picked up his play of late, tossing the occasional quality inning for the Chicago White Sox (the Rangers rid themselves of Bad Luck Noesi just 10 days after acquiring him), but who really cares? Despite all his raw talent, Noesi never seemed to possess the right frame of mind to be a big league ballplayer. Should he thrive elsewhere, more power to him. Will he thrive elsewhere? Highly doubtful.

Grade: B

Trade No. 52: June 11, 2014

Teams involved: Detroit Tigers

Assets relinquished: C Manny Pina

Assets acquired: PTBNL or Cash

You didn’t even know we had a catcher named Manny Pina, did you? No shame in admitting that. Pina is a 26-year-old minor league veteran whose ceiling, at this point, could be labeled “one day a week backup catcher.”

Pina maintains a steady path towards Crash Davisdom, while whatever the M’s ultimately garner in return from Detroit will more than likely make everyone forget about the guy we never knew we even had.

Grade: B-

Trade No. 53: July 24, 2014

Teams involved: Minnesota Twins

Assets relinquished: P Stephen Pryor

Assets acquired: 1B/DH Kendrys Morales

Haven’t we been here before? How many pitchers does it take to get to the center of Kendrys Morales, one might ask a wise old owl. One, two … well, two, for now. But wait ’til next year, because we might just get another shot at dealing for Morales yet again!

Here’s a full-blown analysis of the deal with many, many words for you to peruse. No need to elaborate further here.

Grade: Incomplete

Trade No. 54: July 31, 2014

Teams involved: San Diego Padres

Assets relinquished: OF Abraham Almonte, P Stephen Kohlscheen

Assets acquired: OF Chris Denorfia

Chris Denorfia is the type of guy who fills a need. He’s a right-handed-hitting platoon-type outfielder who has shown the ability to hammer left-handed pitching. Obtaining a guy like that for a stretch run that means something is never a bad thing.

Obtaining “need” guys can be quite costly, however. Ask any Mariners fan if they’d like to rescind “need” trades for the likes of Ben Broussard, Eduardo Perez, Horacio Ramirez, or Heathcliff Slocumb and after a few minutes of uncontrollable sobbing, you’d receive an emphatic “Yes!” Deals for “need” guys can cripple a farm system and haunt organizations for many years in the future. In this instance, however, the M’s made out like bandits in their quest to fill a need.

If you’ve never heard the name “Stephen Kohlscheen” before, then you’re probably a fairly normal human being. And the good news is you’ll likely never hear that name again. Kohlscheen is a 25-year-old career minor league relief pitcher who is still waiting patiently for a cup of coffee that may never arrive.

And then there’s Abraham Almonte, who you all remember as the guy who tried to play center field for the Mariners at the outset of this season. It didn’t go so well, as you’ll recall, with plenty of balls of both the ground and fly variety elusively evading the 25-year-old’s glove. Almonte didn’t hit much, either, and before long he found himself allocated to Triple-A, where he became a fixture in Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium. He’ll have an opportunity to play in the big leagues with San Diego, and who knows what might ultimately materialize. Fact is, though, Almonte had little to no future in Seattle and the M’s won’t miss him one bit.

Denorfia is 34 years of age and a free agent at the end of the year. This is strictly a rental to fill a need. Here’s hoping he’s the man for the job.

Grade: Incomplete

Trade No. 55: July 31, 2014

Teams involved: Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Rays

Assets relinquished: INF Nick Franklin

Assets acquired: OF Austin Jackson

Yes, Nick Franklin is a prospect. And yes, at just 23 years of age, Franklin still has the chance to become an impact major league ballplayer. But his development is no sure thing. And over the bulk of the past year, the sheen upon the young infielder has begun to wane. In the days and weeks leading up to this particular deal, Franklin was rumored in possible offerings for a litany of players. Aside from any potential he still held, one thing was absolutely certain: Nick Franklin’s future was not with the Seattle Mariners.

By contrast, Austin Jackson is a proven commodity, and one that still has some room to grow. At 27 years of age, Jackson already has four-and-a-half years of major league experience under his belt, all as a starting center fielder for one of the better teams in the American League. Similar to the aforementioned Denorfia, Jackson fills a need for the Mariners. Unlike Denorfia, however, Jackson can fill a multitude of needs and will do so beyond the 2014 season.

Need a right-handed bat? Jackson gives you that.

Need a leadoff hitter? Jackson gives you that, too.

Need a center fielder? In fact, the M’s need exactly that.

Somehow, in one singular deal, Jack Zduriencik managed to fill three needs while only relinquishing one asset in return. Nick Franklin may become a great ballplayer, who knows for sure. But Austin Jackson has already emerged as a very good center fielder, one who could find himself manning Safeco Field’s outfield grass for many years to come.

I don’t know how Zduriencik did it. But this might very well become his signature trade.

Grade: Incomplete

One thought on “An Updated Analysis of Every Mariners Trade in the Jack Zduriencik Era”

  1. Very good post, it may be kind of cool if you compared that with maybe Billy Beane’s deals or the head honcho of the Angels. Still good example of a blogger doing his homework! Post grade A +

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