CLEVELAND — As fans anxiously await the news of an acquisition that can push Seattle closer to a possible wild-card berth, the Mariners made none on the day before the Major League Baseball trade deadline of 1 p.m. PST Thursday.
The day before the deadline has been a busy day in past years for the organization. But Seattle didn’t make a move.
It’s not for lack of trying. Per baseball sources, the Mariners have been one of the most active teams, making many inquiries on possible trade targets.
General manager Jack Zduriencik has brought several top members of his staff to Cleveland to assemble a trade-deadline “war room” to handle the possible deals, including assistant general manager Jeff Kingston, director of minor-league operations Chris Gwynn, director of professional scouting Tom Allison and director of amateur scouting Tom McNamara.
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Manager Lloyd McClendon offers input to Zduriencik but won’t allow himself to get caught up in the mania.
“I’m focused on what I’ve got,” McClendon said. “That’s the only way you can operate.”
With varying reports and rumors being bandied about on Twitter, the Mariners were mentioned often, but nothing of much substance. It differed from years past where the team had made some major moves — good and bad.
On July 30, 1996, the Mariners acquired lefty Jamie Moyer from the Red Sox for outfielder Darren Bragg. That trade was a win for Seattle. Moyer went on to post a 145-87 record over 11 seasons with the Mariners.
For Zduriencik, the day before the deadline has been busy for him. In 2012, he traded reliever Steve Delabar to the Blue Jays for outfielder Eric Thames. Thames was never a contributor for the Mariners and was designated for assignment and then traded to the Orioles in 2013. He now plays professionally in Korea. And in a separate deal, Zduriencik sent reliever Brandon League to the Dodgers for minor-leaguers Logan Bawcom and Leon Landry. Bawcom has been a solid reliever for Class AAA Tacoma, while Landry is a starting outfielder for Class AA Jackson.
But it was a trade on July 30, 2011, that leaves Zduriencik and Mariners fans cringing. On that day, he sent pitchers Doug Fister and David Pauley to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for outfielder Casper Wells, left-hander Charlie Furbush, minor-league infielder Francisco Martinez and a player to be named later that would eventually be reliever Chance Ruffin.
Zduriencik has called it one of the more regrettable mistakes of his tenure.
While Pauley never materialized into a great contributor, Fister posted a 32-20 record in 70 starts with the Tigers, helping them reach the postseason. This season with the Nationals, he’s got a 10-2 record with a 2.69 ERA in 14 starts.
Of the four players the Mariners acquired, only Furbush remains. Wells is playing in the independent leagues after being DFA’d by the Mariners and five other teams. Martinez never played above Class AA, he was designated for assignment and then traded back to the Tigers for cash consideration last season. He’s hitting .231 for Class AA Erie. Ruffin made a few big-league appearances after being acquired, but toiled in the minors after that. He retired from baseball about a month ago.
James Paxton threw a 45-pitch bullpen before batting practice on Wednesday.
“I felt really good,” he said. “I was throwing my pitches where I wanted to throw them today. My mechanics felt smooth. It was good. We were working on a few things. It was great.”
Barring any unforeseen changes, it seems likely that Paxton will be starting for the Mariners on Saturday in Baltimore in the fifth spot of the rotation. The Mariners had skipped that spot in the rotation with the Monday off day. “In my mind, I’m ready to compete,” he said.