Dustin Ackley used to be a bright spot in the Seattle Mariners‘ lineup.
It’s true; long before he was turned into a mess and sorta-converted into an outfielder, the former top prospect was a rare threat with double-digit HR/SB upside that seemed destined to eventually find a comfortable home at the near the top (or even in the middle) of the Mariners’ lineup. He flashed exactly those kinds of skills with both his bat and glove for the team in his 2011 debut, but has been unable to come close to following up since.
Now facing an uncertain situation in Seattle, could a change of scenery help him regain some of that lost magic?
There are probably a number of teams that are asking themselves that question and deliberating whether they should pick up the phone, but few with a need to do so that’s as dire as that of Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos. Yes, he’s said all the right things about how he’s not forced to do anything and that he’s comfortable with a Ryan Goins/Maicer Izturis tandem, but considering what transpired there in 2013, that confidence isn’t exactly contagious.
At least on paper, you’d think that the two teams might be able to work something out. Ackley’s future with the M’s is cloudy even if he’s currently listed as the team’s center fielder on the depth chart, and Toronto happens to have outfield depth that would probably help Seattle’s lackluster outfield corps.
The question is, though, would the Blue Jays want to take on the 25-year-old? If so, what would they have to pay?
Fortunately for the Mariners, they can probably make a pretty good sales pitch for Ackley thanks to his Jekyll and Hyde season. Yes, the overall numbers were poor, but it’s important to note that he was essentially unplayable over 59 games in the first half, putting together a miserable .205/.267/.255. In 53 games after the All-Star break? Well, he hit like he belonged in the Midsummer Classic, delivering a .304/.374/.435 triple-slash performance that could be describe as resurgent.
Of course, it also came with a .358 BABIP … but he did spike his line drive rate up from 17.4 percent to 26.7, so he was just as good as he may have been lucky.
It’s the second half that the M’s will be selling to any suitor if they’re looking to make a deal at all, and that’s the one that the Blue Jays will want look at to determine whether it’s a flash in the pan. Going by sample size, the fact that he was uniformly terrible at the plate in 2012 makes the risk factor go up, although it’s worth noting that he was still a plus defender at his position (5.7 fielding runs above average) and a 1.1 fWAR player then.
So, even if he’s kind of bad, he’s still significantly better than that the Blue Jays got last season, which should at least make him a candidate to consider — even if only to promote competition in the middle infield, as Anthopoulos suggests.
As for what they’ll have to pay to make a deal happen? Well, it’s hard to imagine that the Mariners wouldn’t start discussions with Anthony Gose, whose speed value might ultimately be limited by a questionable bat. It wouldn’t necessarily solve the Mariners’ CF problems just as Ackley wouldn’t solve the Blue Jays’ 2B problems, but they would at least be a potential long-term solutions for both parties.
In short, while it’s not an ideal scenario, an ideal-world outcome in such a trade would see this as a win-win for both teams. With the Blue Jays’ latest rumored option to consider being Jamey Carroll, it’s at least worth thinking about, no?