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July 16, 2013

Painting the Black

The Mariners Who May Be Moving

by R.J. Anderson

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The Assets

(Listed in descending order of expected impact)

Kendrys Morales

Position: 1B/DH

Age as of Deadline: 30

Bats/Throws: S/R

Half of Salary: $2.625 million

Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

Stats: 380 PA, .280/.337/.463

PECOTA Projection: 240 PA, .271/.323/.458

Ideal Role: First baseman/designated hitter

The last time Morales graced headlines came back in 2010, when he fractured his tibia in a walkoff celebration. The injury cost the switch-hitting first baseman his season, and seemingly veiled him in obscurity. Despite returning strong in 2012, Morales' efforts have gone unnoticed. He's hit .275/.322/.464 against righties and .279/.344/.468 versus lefties, allowing his team to slot him in daily without much expected loss. Morales isn't the 30-homer hitter he teased a few years ago. He's more of an all-around hitter with some average, some walks, and some pop. It may not be enough to earn him headlines, but it does make him a legitimate starting option at first base or DH.

Raul Ibanez

Position: COF

Age as of Deadline: 41

Bats/Throws: L/R

Half of Salary: $1.375 million

Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

Stats: 296 PA, .267/.314/.578

PECOTA Projection: 196 PA, .240/.301/.409

Ideal Role: Designated hitter

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the league this side of Chris Davis. Ibanez's 24 home runs were more than he'd hit in each of the past three seasons, and help to obscure his value heading forward. Because Ibanez is a negative fielder, interested teams are really evaluating how well he's likely to hit. He's making this task as difficult as possible between the big-time power and the suddenly competent performance against southpaws. There's one snag in the way that might make all of this moot: the possibility of the Mariners keeping Ibanez around so his legendary workout and conditioning habits might rub off on their impressionable youth.

Mike Morse

Position: COF/1B

Age as of Deadline: 31

Bats/Throws: R/R

Half of Salary: $3.375 million

Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

Stats: 227 PA, .251/.313/.454

PECOTA Projection: 199 PA, .261/.318/.444

Ideal Role: First baseman/designated hitter

Morse is currently on the disabled list due to a strained right quadriceps, and at this rate may not return in time to prove his health. When right, Morse brings a lot of power to the table and little else—though he tends to hit for a better average than the typical slugger. He has pole-to-pole power and dares pitchers to throw inside by extending his arms before he goes into his load; he's still able to hit the inside pitch, and his long arms help cover the rest of the plate. Defensively Morse is less than gifted and lacks a true home. His experience in the outfield and at first base could appeal to a team with a platoon situation in play at those spots, or to a team interested in acquiring a utility player of sorts—albeit one whose value stems from his power bat rather than his limited glove.

Oliver Perez

Position: RP

Age as of Deadline: 31

Bats/Throws: L/L

Half of Salary: $0.75 million

Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

Stats: 38 G, 36 IP, 1.75 ERA, 3.33 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 21 IP, 4.11 ERA, 1.67 SO/BB

Ideal Role: Set-up man

The historically erratic southpaw is one of the most intriguing relievers available. Perez relies on a pair of low-to-mid-90s fastballs and a slider to miss bats and put hitters away. His delivery features some funk and his low three-quarters release point gives him added deception. It's always hard to figure which walk-and-flyball-heavy relievers are destined for late-inning roles and which are destined for middle-relief purgatory. The right manager might view Perez as an electric arm capable of striking out a batter or inducing an infield flyout in tight spots, while another might see him as a game-tying home run waiting to happen.

Joe Saunders

Position: SP

Age as of Deadline: 32

Bats/Throws: L/L

Half of Salary: $3.25 million

Contract Status: Mutual option for 2014 (terms unknown)

Stats: 19 GS, 114.2 IP, 4.24 ERA, 1.85 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 12 GS, 72 IP, 4.61 ERA, 1.90 SO/BB

Ideal Role: No. 5 starter

Might Saunders be on the move again? The southpaw was dealt from Arizona to Baltimore last August, then signed with Seattle in February. What makes him attractive to teams is his ability to eat innings, as he's averaged six innings a start per season dating back to 2006. Saunders does his work with a five-pitch arsenal led by a low-90s fastball that is complemented with a changeup and two breaking pitches. He is better against left-handed batters—even if he produces a fair amount of groundballs versus righties—to such a degree that a creative acquiring team could benefit twice from his presence. Once during the regular season as a back-end starter, and again in the postseason as a left-handed specialist.

Brendan Ryan

Position: SS

Age as of Deadline: 31

Bats/Throws: R/R

Half of Salary: $1.625 million

Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

Stats: 255 PA, .195/.255/.268

PECOTA Projection: 96 PA, .221/.280/.301

Ideal Role: Backup shortstop

Ryan is a skillful defender who combines a strong arm with quick feet and a healthy imagination. The resulting package makes him one of the best fielders in the league at any position. Unfortunately, for as good as Ryan is in the field, he's nearly as poor at the plate. His mechanics feature too many moving parts and he strikes out too much for a player with little in the way of walks or power. Herein is the rub. Ryan is too good at shortstop to be used at other positions as a utility infielder. Yet he's too bad at the plate for every team to start him every day. Presumably there is another team out there that would swallow Ryan's poor offense for a taste of his defense. The question is whether it would come in a starting role or something along the lines of a designated defensive sub.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

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