Deal may be shake-up Mariners' lineup needs
Trumbo not without flaws, but power potential desperately needed at Safeco Field
In a perfect world, the Mariners surely would have preferred to acquire someone who gets on base often and brings a spark to the top of the lineup.
Guess what? There aren't any perfect trades. That's especially true in early June, when most teams are still evaluating what they have and don't have.
So give Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik huge props for two things. First, he found a trading partner in the Arizona Diamondbacks. Second, he added two players who will have an immediate -- and positive -- impact on his team.
Will Mark Trumbo and Vidal Nuno provide the jolt Seattle needs so badly? Stay tuned. This is the kind of trade that may look different three months from now and even more different three years from now.
What's obvious is that the Mariners needed something. They fell to 24-29 with a fifth straight loss on Wednesday afternoon and trail the first-place Astros by 9 1/2 games in the American League West.
This is a team that was widely expected to contend for -- if not win -- the AL West. It was built to win now. But 27 other teams have scored more runs than Seattle's 192, and 26 have a higher on-base percentage than its .297. The Mariners do hit home runs, having slugged the fifth-highest total in the Majors.
And Trumbo hits home runs. He hit nine with the D-backs. Only one Seattle hitter, Nelson Cruz (18), has more. So inserting Trumbo into the middle of a lineup with Cruz and Robinson Cano will give Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon's next lineup card a different look.
Trumbo will probably rotate between the outfield, first base and designated hitter; that part of the deal will work itself out. If Trumbo hits, McClendon will find a place for him.
Nuno provides immediate rotation help in the wake of injuries to lefty James Paxton and righty Hisashi Iwakuma. With Taijuan Walker coming off eight scoreless innings against the Indians, the Mariners suddenly have significantly more depth in their rotation.
Do these two additions fix all that's wrong with this team? Absolutely not. Cano's .244 batting average is 63 points below his career average. Dustin Ackley is hitting .190, catcher Mike Zunino .181.
But Trumbo's presence could make a difference. Cano will begin to hit at some point, and if Cano, Trumbo and Cruz all get it going at the same time, Seattle will have multiple threats.
Beyond the numbers, it's a move that sends a message that this season is about winning and that Zduriencik's patience has run out. If this deal doesn't do it, he'll have more opportunities as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.
The Mariners and D-backs approached these discussions from different places, and it's easier to see why Arizona wanted to strike a deal. When GM Dave Stewart signed off on the trade, he added help for both the present and future.
First, Stewart got veteran catcher Welington Castillo to replace the injured Tuffy Gosewisch. He also acquired bullpen help in right-hander Dominic Leone.
Castillo and Leone will be in the mix immediately for a team that has been one of baseball's most pleasant surprises in flirting with .500 at a time when it's in reconstruction mode.
Stewart could afford to trade Trumbo because rookie Yasmany Tomas can shift from third to the outfield once third baseman Jake Lamb comes off the disabled list in a couple of weeks.
The D-backs are leading the National League in runs and were dealing from a position of strength as Lamb's return nears. And the trade looks even better for the D-backs because Stewart got two prospects -- outfielder Gabby Guerrero and infielder Jack Reinheimer -- who now rank as the sixth- and 11th-best prospects, respectively, in Arizona's system, according to MLB.com.
In the end, it's simple. This trade comes with virtually no downside for the D-backs. If they hit on the two prospects, they'll consider it a huge win.
For the Mariners, it's about getting closer to the postseason in 2015. If it doesn't help accomplish that, Zduriencik won't be happy.
On the other hand, Zduriencik did the best he could at a time when the trade market is cool. If nothing else, he changed Seattle's lineup while acknowledging that the mix of players he had wasn't working. Every player in the Mariners' clubhouse should understand that message.
If there wasn't already a sense of urgency, there may now be. This is exactly the kind of move that can get a team rolling, and that's what the Mariners are hoping for.