As the All-Star break approaches, many teams on the bubble of contention have to decide they are buyers trying to win a postseason berth or sellers who need to retool for next year. As play begins on July 9, the Seattle Mariners find themselves just outside that bubble at 40-49, 12.5 games out in the A.L. West and 9.5 games out of a wild card slot. The Seattle Times Sports' Larry Stone has laid out some potential trade candidates that the Mariners have that he feels could benefit a contending team. Among them is the very powerful and popular outfielder Raul Ibanez.
Stone says that Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik has not labeled the Mariners as a seller as of last week, but as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches, he may not have much choice. Seattle would have to overcome Los Angeles, Oakland, and Texas for the division title and seven other contenders for the second wild card spot. That puts Seattle in much more of a seller's role.
The Mariners have a very valuable trade chip in left-handed hitting Raul Ibanez, who has surprised the league in his third stint with the team. Ibanez is hitting .260/.306/.563 with 22 HR and 51 RBI. He is well on pace to break his career high of 34 home runs (Phillies, 2009). He is hitting equally well of both left- and right-handed pitchers. He can give a contender's outfield or bench some added pop, especially in the postseason. Yankee and Oriole fans especially remember Ibanez's heroics in the 2012 ALDS.
The surprise comes in his age: 41. Would contending general managers want to give up top prospects for a 41-year-old? According to Stone, age and popularity with the fans could make a mid-season deal difficult. Stone also explains that Zduriencik would show Ibanez the courtesy of consulting him before making any moves.
Teams on the contention bubble (such as the Yankees or Orioles) may want to take a chance, especially with their short right field fences. Stone mentions that many contending teams would want to look into Ibanez among others such as Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse, Oliver Perez, and Brendan Ryan.
As popular as Ibanez is with the fans, Zduriencik needs to do what is best for the team. Seattle most likely will not contend. If trading Ibanez will improve the team for next year, then he needs to explore the options.
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