By Shannon Drayer
Two, three and four years ago, Jack Zduriencik looked at the trade deadline in large part as an opportunity to build for the future. In an attempt to further replenish the farm system, older pieces were moved for younger pieces, often with more in volume coming than going. Those pieces, for the most part, have proved to be mostly quantity rather than quality, but regardless, the farm system is in much better shape and Zduriencik sees the organization in a different place with different needs.
"There's a point where you say, 'I am giving up big-league players for players down the road that you have your fingers crossed,'" he said. "We've done that."
"We're going to be able to have the inside track in bringing some of these players back here," general manager Jack Zduriencik said of the decision to not trade any of Seattle's pending free agents. (AP)
"I think to detract from it, I think it would have been devastating to some of guys in the clubhouse. I think it would have been the wrong message to send," Zduriencik said.
What message did he hope to send by keeping the club together?
"That we have enough confidence in these guys to continue what they are doing," he said. "We've had our challenges, but we have seen positives. There is a commitment from us to the players. I hope the fact that we kept this group together, they together realize that we believe in what you are doing. We believe that you guys can compete. Let's continue to do that. Let's play good baseball."
Now, that would have gone out the window if the right deal was presented, but Zduriencik put a high premium on some of his players. Kendrys Morales was attractive to a number of teams but no doubt was priced accordingly. In addition to what Morales can bring on the field for the Mariners in the final two fields, he also can bring them a first-round draft pick if he goes to another club in free agency, provided the Mariners give him the qualifying offer.
Something else came into play with some of the players in their final year. The whole scenario of trading a guy for something and bringing him back later rarely works out, and Zduriencik has players he would like a shot at re-signing.
"When you let a guy leave, it is harder to get him back," Zduriencik said. "Once you break that marriage up and all of a sudden you want to go back and ask that player to come back? It's harder to do. He probably feels somewhat betrayed. The guys are here, they have the right to walk but also we have the first opportunity to re-sign them if we choose to do that, and that is important to a player, especially if they like Seattle. Who knows what is going to happen? We are, 'We're going to be able to have the inside track in bringing some of these players back here.' That was part of the thinking as well."
That, of course, begs the question of who these players are and where are they in the process of attempting to bring them back. Raul Ibanez most likely is one. Michael Morse is interesting in that the qualifying offer might be an option if you are looking for that extra draft pick. And, of course, Morales is clearly a good fit in Seattle. According to Zduriencik, inroads have been made with a number of players.
"I think some of the players understand how we feel about them," he said. "I have had indirect conversations with some of them, some I have had direct, but I do think as we move forward from now to the end of the year that will accelerate as we get closer to the end."
We still could see a trade between now and the end of the season as teams can make deals provided the player is first put on waivers. For now, the 25 who began the day as Mariners will finish the day as Mariners.