Mariners have potential trade fits for Indians
JUL 23, 2013 6:57p ET
The July 31st trading deadline is almost a week away, and with that will come a bevy of activity over the next eight days as contending clubs look to bolster their team for the stretch run and pretenders look to reload for next year.
The flood gates may have opened on Monday when the Rangers acquired Matt Garza from the Cubs. That trade should shake loose the rest of the starting pitching market, and maybe get things cooking on the reliever and position player front as well.
The Indians have not yet made a deal, but they could certainly use some help and they are expected to be aggressive in their search to find a piece or two to help complement their roster. They have been rumored as suitors for just about every available player, which shows how they are considering every possible alternative – some rumored publicly but most kept a well-guarded secret behind closed doors.
The Indians are currently in the midst of a series with the Seattle Mariners, a team that has won seven in a row but is still far behind in the AL West and wildcard race so will probably eventually be a seller. The Mariners have a lot of pieces on the roster that could really help the Indians, and this series offers the Indians a front and center view of those potential trade fits for them.
Here are a few players from the Mariners that may be a good fit for the Indians if they are available and can be had for the right price:
Kendrys Morales (1B/DH)
Morales is still only 30-years old and has rebounded well from that devastating ankle injury he suffered in May of 2010. He has experience hitting in the middle of the lineup as he has hit third and fourth in the Mariners lineup all season and in his career has mostly hit cleanup and fifth in the lineup. He switch hits, has some good pop, and is a proven run producer. He is not an elite bat, but his experience as a run producer would fit in well as one of the Indians’ biggest needs is a reliable cleanup hitter.
As far as what position Morales would play, he could slide right in as the primary DH, a role that Mark Reynolds has had for far too long. He is only making $5.25 million this season and is a free agent at the end of the year, so he would not cost a lot to acquire nor be a big financial risk for the Indians.
In my view, with what is available, Morales is a perfect fit for the Indians and he could help their lineup tremendously by allowing others to slot more naturally into their normal spots in the order. Nick Swisher, Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Brantley are not cleanup hitters, but the Indians have had to use them and others in that role because they do not have a consistent, proven run producer to fit that role. Morales would allow Swisher, Brantley and Carlos Santana to hit in their more natural fifth, sixth or seventh spot in the order, and suddenly the lineup would have more length.
Raul Ibanez (OF)
The ageless wonder Ibanez is having quite a season as he is the oldest player ever at age 41 to hit 20-plus home runs by the All Star break. Overall he is hitting .262 with 24 homers, 56 RBI and .878 OPS and would be a good fit in the outfield for the Indians. He is only making $2.75 million this season and is a free agent after the season, so there is no immediate or long term financial risk if he is acquired.
Ibanez has postseason experience, is a proven, professional bat, and has primarily hit anywhere from third to sixth in the lineup throughout his 18-year career. Amazingly, he has never been traded, but I think at some point Seattle will move him to a team in need of a jolt to their lineup and I believe the Indians will be one of his strongest suitors not just because of his production capabilities, but his makeup as well as he is another one of those great clubhouse guys in the game. I would still prefer Morales because he switch hits while Ibanez is left-handed, but the Indians really could not go wrong with either of them.
Oliver Perez (LHP)
The Indians need for a middle of the order bat is probably only trumped by a greater need for a reliable and effective left-handed reliever. The Indians have relied on Rich Hill for far too long as their primary setup man, and while he has pitched better of late, he should not be used in high leverage situations and should be used more as a second lefty in the pen to pitch in the middle innings. Too many times the Indians have had crucial matchup situations in the seventh and eighth innings that screamed for a lefty out of the pen only to have Hill not get the batter out or they opted to stick with a right-hander and have it blow up in their face.
Perez had some success early in his career as a starter, but has really settled in as a reliever the past two years with Seattle (2.05 ERA, 72 G, 3.5 BB/9, 10.1 K/9). He is only making $1.5 million and is a free agent after the season so he should not cost a lot to acquire from that perspective; however, there are a lot of teams interested in acquiring him so the cost to acquire him will surely be higher than expected. If there is any way the Indians can acquire both Morales/Ibanez plus Perez in a deal then they will have filled their two greatest needs and might take off.
Mike Morse (OF)
Morse has been on the disabled list since June 22nd with a quad injury that has affected him since the end of May, so they won’t get a look at him this series. In a lot of ways he is like Mark Reynolds as a player that has big power but who strikes out at a high rate. His right-handed power and ability to play first base, outfield and DH would fit in well as a replacement for Reynolds on the roster, and he is making $6.75 million this season and is a free agent at the end of the season so should be available if the Mariners pull the plug on their season.
The problem here is whether or not Morse is healthy and whether he really is a good fit for the Indians as their biggest need is a proven middle of the order bat. He would be more of a complementary piece to the lineup, something they already have a lot of and may be better off just sticking with Reynolds in this case.
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