FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal proposes the idea in a column today that a trade between the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners involving the reigning Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez could be beneficial for both sides. He rattles off three of the Yankees top young players and suggests that two more from the team’s prospect stock should be enough to get the deal done.
It seems fair enough, and I suppose that the rebuilding Mariners and the starting pitching hungry Yankees would make good bed fellows. However, one comment that Rosenthal makes stood out for me above and beyond his sound analysis of the prospective swap.
The Mariners’ only concern should be the Mariners.
I can’t help but shake the feeling that the only thing better than rebuilding an organization with Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, Ivan Nova and two more prospects would be having the best young pitcher in baseball who hasn’t even turned 25 years old yet. If the Kansas City Royals, admittedly not the organization one would normally use as a measuring stick for future success, wouldn’t trade Joakim Soria for Montero and Eduardo Nunez, why would the Mariners consider pulling the trigger on a deal that would include two additional pitchers?
In fairness to Rosenthal, he points out that the Mariners already have Michael Pineda and James Paxton on the development path to become top of the rotation starters.
Their current plan, to build around Hernandez, is not illogical. Right-hander Michael Pineda projects as a worthy No. 2 to King Felix. Left-hander James Paxton, a recently signed fourth-round pick, could develop into another top-of-the-rotation starter. And the M’s could grab another elite young pitcher with the No. 2 overall pick in the June draft.
Throw in Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak, as well as Nick Franklin and Guillermo Pimentel, and the Mariners aren’t that far away from competing with their current crop of youngsters. While Rosenthal doesn’t seem to believe it’s enough, quoting Baseball America’s shabby ranking of their prospects, he also mentions that the team has invested more money into Latin America than any other team in baseball. That type of strategy is going to pay off, even if the immediate results haven’t been there.
For another take on the Mariners’ current farm system, ESPN’s Keith Law placed Seattle in the top ten of his organizational rankings. So, as much as unnamed rival executives may attempt humourous sound bytes, by saying, “He is King Felix, but he has no castle to rule over in Seattle,” it’s ultimately an inaccurate sentiment.
Despite a surprisingly awful 2010, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik didn’t become an idiot over night. The pitchers coming back for Hernandez might add depth, but they’re hardly necessary. The best Yankees pitching prospects would only be able to hope to do what King Felix has already accomplished, and they’re only a few years younger than the reigning Cy Young Award winner. As for the position players, Rosenthal is simply underestimating the Mariners system if he believes that this is a deal that has to happen.
It will only be a matter of time until the Mariners have built a competitive castle, and they don’t need to get rid of their king to do it.