Well, that turned out to be one of the most exciting trade deadlines I can remember. So many deals have happened in the last hour-plus – the Yankees added Stephen Drew, and now it looks like they got their hands on Martin Prado as well. Andrew Miller went to the Orioles, Asdrubal Cabrera went to the Nationals, Gerardo Parra went to the Brewers. As I was typing that sentence it became known that the Marlins traded for Jarred Cosart. Hell, the Twins extended Kurt Suzuki in the middle of the madness. But the Mariners were right there in the middle of the biggest deal of them all.
In the end, David Price got moved. He got moved to a team with a historically good rotation, who in turn gave up a couple of important parts of their big league club. He didn’t go to the Mariners, but the Mariners were intimately involved in the trade. And based on what we know now, it looks like Seattle did damn good.
Detroit is sending Austin Jackson to Seattle in exchange for Nick Franklin. That’s the extent of Seattle’s involvement. The Tigers then flipped Franklin to Tampa Bay along with Drew Smyly and maybe other pieces, who the hell knows right now. David Price goes to the Tigers, which is nuts. Completely nuts. So stupid and wonderful. But for now, let’s focus on the M’s part of things.
All year long the outfield has been a mess. Really, it’s been this way for a decade, but enough about the last decade. Chris Denorfia was a nice outfield plug-in, but he wasn’t any kind of big solution. Austin Jackson, on the other hand, is absolutely that kind of a big solution. He’s a long-coveted trade target that was generally considered untouchable, since the Tigers are good and Jackson is good and the point of being good is to stay good and win. It’s weird that the M’s were able to do this. Weird, and very impressive.
The Mariners, right now, have a little window of contention. They’re falling behind in the wild card race, but this was only supposed to be the year they showed real signs of improvement and started looking like a good team. That’s happened, and now they have a center fielder who will be around next year as well. A good center fielder, on both sides of the ball. Jackson is by far the biggest of the M’s three recent acquisitions, and the most likely to contribute to a winning team now and later.
Jackson, on the year, is hitting .270/.330/.397, which is good for a 100 wRC+. His defense hasn’t been that highly regarded by advanced metrics, but in the past he’s been a good glove up the middle and a league average or better bat. There’s no reason to think he’s not still that, since defense bounces around and he’s clearly still capable at the plate. Oh, and he’s 27 years old. And two years ago he was a 5.2 WAR player.
Nick Franklin was a man without a position who long seemed like more of a Ray than a Mariner. That the M’s were able to turn him into a quality big-league center fielder is sort of fantastic. Franklin has more surplus value, but he also was way less likely to contribute in 2014 and 2015 than Jackson. If you’re going to trade a prospect in a win-now move, you couldn’t really do better than taking a blocked guy and using him to fill your biggest need. That’s exactly what the M’s did.
In short, this is a fantastic move by the Mariners. The cost was reasonable, and the upgrade of Jackson and Denorfia over Endy Chavez and James Jones is at least a couple wins. The Mariners got noticeably better today, and all it cost them was the one guy who was a lock to be moved anyway. Kudos to the Tigers for getting Price, but this deal helps the Mariners more than acquiring Tampa’s ace would have. The Mariners keep their prospect wealth stockpiled and add a legit piece for the near future. Dreamy.