5 Trade Targets Who Could Help Seattle Mariners’ Offense
5 Trade Targets Who Could Help Seattle Mariners’ Offense
The Seattle Mariners were aggressively working to upgrade their lineup during the offseason. They made major moves, trading for Kendrys Morales and signing the likes of Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay in free agency. They even tried moving in the outfield fences in an effort to jumpstart their offense. While some of those newcomers have lived up to expectations, the team as a whole continues to struggle at the plate.
Through 40 games this season, the Mariners rank second to last in the American League in both runs scored and batting average (and dead last in the AL West). They continue to struggle generating offense, ranking No. 12 in the AL in on-base percentage and dead last in stolen bases while having the fourth most strikeouts in the league. While they have improved hitting the long ball, ranking in the middle of the pack, they still sit at the bottom of the AL, at No. 13, in terms of slugging percentage.
Yet, the M’s find themselves in a tie for second place in the AL West, sitting seven games back of the Texas Rangers, thanks in no small part to their pitching and defense. If Seattle has any hope of making a push for the division crown or even just sneaking into the playoffs via the wild card, the offense still has room to be improved. While Seattle has a few options sitting in the minor leagues, the quickest way for the team to turn things around on offense is through a trade for another bat.
With that said, here are five players Seattle should target in a trade that would instantly improve their offense, in alphabetical order.
Matt Adams, 1B St. Louis Cardinals
While Seattle entered the 2013 season committed to Justin Smoak as their first baseman, the 26-year old has struggled out of the gate once again, posting a .244/.363/.317 slash line. While the on-base percentage is a career-high, Smoak’s slugging has been missing completely so far this season as he sits with just one home run and six RBI on the season.
Matt Adams, meanwhile, has started 2013 on a tear. The 24-year old is hitting .469/.514/.844 this season with three home runs and 10 RBI. His problem with the St. Louis Cardinals, however, is that is trapped behind first baseman Allen Craig, who has taken command of the first base position for the foreseeable future. That makes Adams a valuable trade commodity for St. Louis, who figures to be looking to add that “final piece” for a pennant run this summer.
Adams would be a long-term boost to the Seattle offense and could end up playing with Smoak in the lineup. If the Mariners cannot hold onto Kendrys Morales, which seems likely, then there would be room for another bat in the lineup for next season and beyond at the designated hitter position. Adding a slugger like Adams to the young nucleus that Seattle has started to accumulate with Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager could give the M’s a formidable young lineup for years to come.
Chase Headley, 3B San Diego Padres
It seems like Chase Headley is constantly being shopped by the San Diego Padres each and every summer, but never pull the trigger on a deal. This year could be different as the club could be motivated to unload their star third baseman if they don’t feel confident they’ll be able to reach an agreement on an extension next offseason. If the Padres get serious about unloading Headley, the M’s should be at the front of the line pursuing him.
While the M’s are certainly pleased with the progress of Seager at the hot corner, adding a player of Headley’s caliber, winner of both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards in 2012, isn’t an oppurtunity that you can easily pass up. Headley has the ability to be an MVP-caliber player and the relative scarcity of high-quality third basemen available makes him impossible to ignore.
Adding Headley’s bat to the order would be an instant upgrade for Seattle, which would make the headache of what to do with Seager more palatable. It would take a major package of players to get the deal done, but acquiring Headley would be a major boost for the Mariner offense.
Nick Punto, IF Los Angeles Dodgers
Seattle has been more than patient waiting on the development of Ackley at second base, so they should feel at ease looking at some other options at this point. This season, Ackley has been hot and cold (though more cold than hot) and even his hot streaks have been more luke-warm. He’s sitting with a slash line of .234/.291/.282 with a home run and just seven RBI through the first 40 games.
Nick Punto, meanwhile, has been taking advantage of his increased playing time with the Los Angeles Dodgers. While he isn’t flashy and won’t light up the score boards with home run bombs, he has shown the ability to get on base, a skill that many Seattle hitters are lacking in so far this season. To date, Punto has put up a slash line of .333/.418/.423 with a home run and eight RBI.
Those numbers would put Punto into first by a wide margin with Seattle in batting average and on-base percentage. Too many times this season, a Seattle hitter has connected for a long shot with the bases completely empty. Michael Morse leads the team with nine home runs, but has just 18 RBI to show for it. Having players get on base ahead of the M’s power hitters would help solve their run-scoring dilemma in a hurry.
Alexei Ramirez, SS Chicago White Sox
The shortstop position is far and away the weakest in Seattle’s batting order. Brendan Ryan, as good as he is defensively, is a liability at the plate and he’s proven it again early in 2013. Through 40 games, Ryan sports the lowest non-pitcher batting average on the team, sitting at just .133/.202/.133 with four RBI and zero extra base hits. If the M’s are looking for a spot to improve the offense, shortstop is the obvious place to start.
The Chicago White Sox could be in a position to start a rebuilding project this summer and their shortstop, Alexei Ramirez, could bring back a nice set of players back to get that process into the fast lane. The 31-year old Cuban ranks No. 7 among all shortstops with a batting average of .281 to go along with a .313 OBP and .360 slugging. He’s hit one home run and driven in just eight runs, but he’s stolen seven bases, something that Seattle has struggled to do this season.
Ramirez may be a slight defensive downgrade, but he is still a serviceable defensive shortstop who will bring some extra pop to the lineup and speed on the basepaths. He won’t be a long-term solution at the position, but he would give the M’s an immediate upgrade at the position.
Justin Ruggiano, CF Miami Marlins
With Franklin Gutierrez proving once again unable to overcome injuries to contribute for more than a couple weeks at a time, Seattle would be wise to look for a solid contributor to roam center field. Michael Saunders has held down the spot very well, but injury concerns of his own would make his life easier if he could transition back to being a corner outfielder. Unfortunately, without Gutierrez in the mix, the M’s don’t have a lot of options.
Enter the Miami Marlins, who proved this offseason that nobody on their roster is safe from being traded, and their 31-year old center fielder Justin Ruggiano. While he won’t turn heads with his batting average, owning a slash line of .218/.302/.421, Ruggiano brings pop with his bad, already hitting seven home runs this season, and speed on the base paths with five stolen bases. He’s a bit of a boom or bust player, but his boom is better than most of what Seattle currently has available.
If Seattle wants to make a push for a pennant in 2013, they will need a quick fix for their offensive struggles. Who do you want the M’s to go out and get this summer?