Michael Saunders Traded To Blue Jays For J.A. Happ


According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, Michael Saunders is going back home to play for the Toronto Blue Jays. The Seattle Mariners receive left-handed starter J.A. Happ in the deal.

The acquisition of Happ, despite having five solid starters, can likely be attributed to the various issues that plagued the Mariner rotation in 2014.  Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker all battled injuries at various times in the season, and Roenis Elias hit his limit early in September. On occasion, Lloyd McLendon would have a “bullpen day” where Tom Wilhelmsen would pitch the first two or three innings before handing the ball to the rest of the bullpen.

To be honest, I thought the Mariners would be receiving more in return for Michael Saunders (actually, to be completely honest, I thought we should have held on to him!). A young, cheap outfielder, with through-the-roof potential for a 32-year old pitcher who hasn’t had a good season this decade just doesn’t make much sense.

As I predicted when the Saunders trade rumors first came out, this move seems like it’s more of a Jack Z overreaction. Happ is 32 years old and hasn’t posted an ERA under 4 in five years. He had his best numbers over that time in 2014, going 11-11 with a 4.22 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP.

He also is on the books for $6.7 million in 2015, and will become a free agent after that.

This trade confirms the notion that Seattle is looking to add a new corner outfielder. With Saunders out of the equation, James Jones, Stefen Romero and Julio Morban are the only other OF’s on the roster aside from Austin Jackson and Dustin Ackley .

However, I am of the opinion that the Mariners should be careful about giving up Taijuan Walker or James Paxton. If the M’s can go out and get Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes or Carlos Gonzalez without giving either of them up, awesome. But we’ve tried giving up a sure-fire prospect for an established vet before, and now we get to see Adam Jones on MVP ballots ever year.

Melky Cabrera and Alex Rios would also be solid upgrades in right field without having to part with one fifth of our rotation in 2015 and a future ace.