Worse Trade Deadline — Giants or Mariners?

The emerging consensus on the 2013 MLB Trade Deadline seems to be that it was a dud, and I can’t say that I disagree.  Rather than breaking down the trades that happened, I find myself drawn to those teams that stood pat.  Specifically, which team had a worse deadline – the SF Giants or the Seattle Mariners?


The Mariners have a number of players eligible for free agency after the World Series ends:







Kendrys Morales






Raul Ibanez






Michael Morse






Brendan Ryan






Endy Chavez













Aaron Harang






Oliver Perez






Obviously, none of these players set the heart aflutter.  Ibanez and Morse are horrific defensively, Ryan horrific offensively, Morse has been hurt and Endy Chavez apparently missed his plane to Newark to play in the Independent League.  Aaron Harang’s ceiling is a #5 innings eater, and Oliver Perez is still walking 4 per 9IP in what is his “renaissance”. 

Let’s remember that MLB’s CBA now provides that, in order to receive draft pick compensation for losing a free agent, a player must have been on the team’s roster for the entire season (check), and the team must make a “qualifying offer” to that player within 5 days of the end of the season.  The amount of the “Qualifying Offer” isn’t quite set, but it will be right around $13.5M – so the question is whether any of these players would receive a 1 year/$13.5M offer on November 1st.  Obviously, SEA won’t make that offer to either pitcher.  Ditto Ryan and Chavez.  Ibanez for his age 41 season?  No way.  That leaves us with Morse and Morales.  Morse is still only 31, but his defense is worse than ever and his offensive production has been slightly above average, but underwhelming for a DH-only type.  He’s out.  That leaves Kendrys Morales.  At age 30, Morales has had a nice bounce back season after struggling for years following his walk-off HR ankle injury.  He’s on pace for a 2 WAR season and has hit well, so let’s give Seattle the benefit fo the doubt and say you make the offer to Morales (he likely won’t accept, which is probably your desired outcome since Justin Smoak has played better of late – but even if he does paying $13M for his offense isn’t crippling even given Seattle’s stage of development). 

That means that SEA is 50-56, 8.5 games out of the 2nd Wildcard with 56 games to play (in other words, playing for the future).  Ibanez, Morse, Ryan, Chavez, Harang and Perez have no future value to Seattle (and if they do, it is at an amount far below the Qualifying Offer level – which of course, SEA is free to offer once those players become free agents in November).  Am I to believe that there was no market for any of these players?  One of this deadline’s most talked about SPs was Houston’s Bud Norris.  Here are Norris’ numbers against Harang:




















Norris comes with a few years of team control that Harang doesn’t, so I suppose I can look past him, though I find it hard to believe there was no market for Harang.  As for Brendan Ryan – yes, he can’t hit, but the AL’s best team (Detroit) traded for another SS that can’t hit (Jose Iglesias), except Iglesias is an untested rookie about to be thrown into the midst of the pennant race, as Jhonny Peralta is expected to be suspended in connection with his  Biogenesis ties.  Raul Ibanez’s .359 wOBA is 16th in the AL – despite his limitations, was there no contender looking for upgrades on offense? (I’m looking at you, Texas).  Nobody believes that either player would have returned much to SEA, but even a longshot prospect would offer more value than two vets playing out the string in a lost season.


Having won two of the last three World Series, I can’t imagine that anyone from Brian Sabean on down would have thought that Giants would contemplate selling on 7/31.  Neverthess, here we are at the end of July and the 46-59 Giants have the 2nd worst record in the NL,  11 games behind division leading LA and 11.5 games out of the 2nd wildcard – this SF team is done.  The Giants contract situation is slightly more complicated – here is a link to their commitments beyond 2013.  The free agents to be are Barry Zito, Hunter Pence, Jeff Francoeur, Javier Lopez, Andres Torres and Chad Gaudin.  Of those 6, obviously none are getting a qualified offer (though Zito is getting a $7M buyout, on the assumption his option isn’t being picked up) with the possible exception of Pence – he’s making $13.8M this year and though he’s looking for a multi-year deal, I would expect the Giants could safely offer $13.5M and know he’ll find better elsewhere.   Lopez had LOOGY trade value, but I can wholeheartedly believe not one of the other four players had non-zero trade value – I can’t imagine even the lowest level prospect that might have been offered for any of them. 

Outside of the free agents to be, however, the Giants have some interesting pieces – below is a table of the player, their 2013 salary and their future contractual commits:








Lincecum, Tim




Pagan, Angel






Scutaro, Marco






Affeldt, Jeremy






Sandoval, Pablo





Vogelsong, Ryan




Casilla, Santiago (Garcia, Jairo)






Romo, Sergio





Lincecum has dominated discussion for the better part of a year – what the Giants plan for him, I don’t know because his market price is so hard to gauge.   His ERA of 4.61 screams finished, but Lincecum owns a much more palatable 3.61 FIP and his K/9 is an attractive 9.71, suggesting that some teams may believe the tank isn’t empty.   Marco Scutaro was a postseason hero in 2012 and made the All-Star team at age 38 for the first time this year, but he’s under contract for $13.5M over the next two years, which would concern me if they were ages 33-34, not 39-40.   Jeremy Affeldt injured his groin about 10 days ago, likely killing any chance that the Giants had of escaping the $12M he is owed over the next two years.  But what of Pablo Sandoval?  His weight issues are well chronicled, but while he’s managed to hit is way through past issues, this year’s .316 wOBA and 105 wRC+ makes one wonder what his future holds.  Was there a buyer for the $8.25M he is owed next season?  Certain ballclubs located in Boston and New York were desperately burning up the trade lines in search of a 3B right up to the deadline.  What about Sergio Romo?  A year and a half ago, he wasn’t a reliever that could be counted on to work on consecutive days, is he now untouchable because he froze Miguel Cabrera to end the World Series? Despite the recent success, Romo is still a slider-heavy RHP who shows big platoon splits.  Smart teams tend not to overpay for relief help, and it seems that holding onto relievers during a lost season qualifes as “overpaying”.  


Ultimately, I think the Giants did themselves a bigger disservice this deadline.  The Mariners didn’t move their many old OF/DH types, but those players weren’t going to return much, and Seattle has largely committed to its youngsters, with Brad Miller, Nick Franklin, Mike Zunino and Dustin Ackley playing their way through slumps and growing pains.  Seattle has $33M committed for next season, and two-thirds of that is to King Felix.  On the other hand, the Giants have $85M already committed to its 2014 team, and shockingly only $15M of that is to its two best players (Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner).   This team has huge question marks at every OF position and 2B, 2-3 starting rotation spots, and potentially both corner infield spots, depending on where you come out on Panda and Giraffe (Belt).  The minor league system offers little in the way of hope, at least on the offensive side of the ball, so how does a team that already has half of its 2014 budget committed improve?  It seems that a recognition of its dire need to sell in July 2013 would have been a good place to start.



About Bill Porter

Bill is an aspiring sportswriter (attorney by day) born in Washington DC, raised in New York, and currently living in San Francisco with his wife Kirsten and two spazzy labs, Fletch and Bear. Follow me on Twitter at @wfporter1972
This entry was posted in Brian Sabean, Business of Baseball, Contracts, Giants, GMs, Mariners, MLB, Teams and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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