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.

Comments (16)

  1. I agree that trading Hernandez wouldn’t really be smart, but I do think that in terms of “pitcher years”, Hernandez is older than almost 25. Given the innings he’s thrown so early in his career he’s probably more like 28 or 29 in pitcher years.

    I still think it’s dumb to trade a pitcher in the middle of his prime and he still has at least five or six more years before decline sets in. Not only that, but would it not behoove the Yankees to actually develop some home-grown pitchers sch as Banuelos and Nova. Not to mention that if Montero can stick at catcher, he’s the perfect mould of a Yankee power bat.

  2. Great point on the age of Felix’s arm compared to his body. It would be interesting to look at peak and decline for pitchers like that.

  3. Daisuke’s a good example. All the innings he threw in Japan before coming over are biting him now. He’s only 30, but he pitches like a guy in his mid-to-late 30′s.

  4. If Dice-K was anything like he is now, those innings would look even worse if we were counting the number of pitches.

  5. They’ve also got Chavez in the organization from the Morrow deal, another very good prospect from my read on things.

    • I’ve got a feeling that I overrate Chavez just because I heard of him in the Jays organization. Goldstein didn’t have very nice things to say about him in the BP rankings.

  6. If I’m Seattle, I’d do a deal for that package. 3-5 top prospects for a team that will be closer to losing 100 than not this year is a hell of a haul.

    • @ Rock: Yeah, like Rosenthal, I don’t think that either strategy is absurd. It would just hurt me to trade away an arm like Hernandez at such a young age basically for more depth in your system, but no one who will equal your ace.

  7. Then again, 2 years of a 28 year old Erik Bedard got the Orioles Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, George Sherrill (flipped for Josh Bell, despite the fact Parkes thinks there’s no market for relief pitching), and Kam Mickolio.

    Felix makes 11m this year, but for 2012-2014 he’s right near market value anyway, which makes little sense for a team that doesn’t intend on competing. It might make a heck of a lot of sense for them, if guys aren’t on their team aren’t taking expected step forwards come July, to trade Hernandez for a big Yankees package and turn his future earnings into even more Latin American talent.

  8. @NorthYorkJays – trading with the Dodgers is cheating. Not indicative of actual market conditions.

  9. As it stands now, Felix would bring back the biggest haul of prospects ever..
    Sure Ace’s have been traded before, but never this young and never with an extension already in place.

    It makes no sense to trade him now for the simple fact that, in 2-3 years as his contract finishes (barring injury) he will still be extremely valuable. Therefore the Mariners can keep him for a few more years, see if they can turn things around, then trade him a year before he hits free agency and still get a very nice haul.

  10. Did AA cheat when he traded League for Morrow? There’s a market for RP. The sooner you folks realize that…

  11. Of course there’s a market for relief pitching. Napoli for Francisco, R. Soriano’s outrageous contract, numerous more outrageous contracts signed this winter. The problem is that there shouldn’t be nearly as much of a market for relief pitching as there actually is. Relief pitching is somewhat overvalued due to the incosistency of most relievers.

    • I’ve never said that relief pitchers can’t be traded or that there’s no market for them. I said that signing relievers only as future trade bait isn’t the best of strategies. I think that if you look back at the five best reliever trades over the past few seasons, two of them involve the Dodgers giving up prospects for a relief pitcher.

  12. @NYJ – as long as you realize that Morrow was in the Pen at the time of the trade. Jays are the ones who told him to get prepared to start as that is what you will be doing for us. Seatlle gave up on him and took a steady RP in League in return plus a high A prospect.

  13. I agree, don’t toss Chavez away like he was nothing. If the Jays traded a 20 year old after a 21 home run season, heads would roll.

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