Dustin Ackley: Trade Candidate


Dustin Ackley is not necessarily a bust just yet, though if you want to argue otherwise I’d totally understand. Yes, he’s in the midst of another underwhelming year. Yes, he’s likely never going to fulfill the promise he came with when he was drafted. And while he’s unlikely to develop into what the Seattle Mariners wanted him to be, he still might be able to help one of the other 29 major league teams win.

A brief overview of Ackley’s career: drafted number two overall behind only Stephen Strasburg, tore through the minors, lit the majors on fire as a rookie, sucked in 2012, sucked in 2013, sucked in 2014, sucks now. Last year was his best since 2011, as Ackley rode a big second half to a 97 wRC+ season that was worth two wins above replacement. Many thought he was turning a corner.

Ack opened his 2015 with a .196/.237/.375 April, then followed it up with a .180/.224/.279 May. But since then he’s been… fine. He hit .235/.350/.382 in June, which translates to a 113 wRC+. So far in July he’s batting .400/.455/.700. He’s turning it on, some would say, preparing for a big second half. And there might be something to it.

One year ago, Ackley opened his year with three straight terrible months. He bottomed out in June, then had a monster July – .365/.385/.506. He barely slowed down in August before having another sub-par month in September. After a slow start, Ackley heated up and made his season something more than a total mess. And that’s to say nothing of his huge August 2013.

Ackley is something of a second-half player, and it seems that he’s been playing much better since summer rolled around. He’s been such a problem for the Mariners that it probably doesn’t make sense for them to keep him around in hopes that he’ll suddenly learn how to string together more than two straight non-infuriating months. He’s also blocked out of his best defensive position for the next eight-plus years. So the question is this: has he recouped any trade value?

Maybe! Prior to this hot streak, it appeared that Ackley was incapable of anything non-awful. Now he’s dispelled that notion, at least as much as a month-ish of strong hitting can erase a long-lasting impression crafted out over many painful years. He is capable of hitting, yes, though he has been the picture of inconsistency.

But maybe this was all some team needed to see. Some team that knows what to do with young hitters – so definitely not the Mariners – has now seen enough that they’re convinced they can stick Ackley at second base and have him turn into something. Maybe there are two or more such teams, and the Mariners are in the positon to extract something of value from a high bidder. Maybe I’m way off, and Ackley is still many months of strong play away from reaching this rank. But maybe he’s already there.

There will be no top 100 guys coming to Seattle for Ackley, of course, but maybe someone wants to give up something interesting enough to make it worthwhile. The news on Ackley is that he’s hitting better, and that this is what he typically does this time of year. He’s always going to have at least a little bit of that draft pick shine to him. He’ll never have to do as much to prove himself capable, because of how he was regarded as a prospect.

In Dustin Ackley, the Seattle Mariners have a player who doesn’t fit their current roster at all. He’s a second baseman who’s been forced to fake it in the outfield, but now that he’s hitting a little the team might actually be able to get something for him. Likely? Not enormously, no. But it’s now possible to envision a real trade involving Ackley and non-trash. Guess we should have seen it coming – it is summer, after all.

Next: The 2015 Seattle Mariners Are A Team Without Momentum