Kendrys Morales isn’t enough.
The Mariners brought back the switch-hitting designated hitter in hopes of supplementing an offense that ranks last or near the bottom of the American League in almost every major statistical category.
That lack of hitting prowess combined with an unsustainable batting average with runners in scoring position has sunken Seattle from a 2½- game lead in the race for the second wild card to a half-game behind since the All-Star break.
Morales may help the offense. But the addition of at least one more hitter and possibly a starting pitcher should be priorities for general manager Jack Zduriencik in the final five days before Thursday’s Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline.
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But will the Mariners make more moves?
The recent spate of losing — 3-6 record since the break — shouldn’t stop them from supplementing the roster with 57 games left to go in the regular season. “We’re still in the wild-card race,” Zduriencik said. “They (ownership) said all along, if you have a chance and you think you’re in it, then we’ll give you the resources. I don’t know what else will happen. We’ll continue to have conversations. We want to stay in this thing. We want to be in the playoffs. Who knows what else is around the corner.”
The options haven’t changed much in the past few weeks. One major difference is the willingness of the Tampa Bay Rays to make moves. The Mariners had been talking with the Rays for weeks, trying to acquire former Cy Young award winner David Price and versatile utility player Ben Zobrist.
But with each win, the Rays become less likely to want to part with two key parts of their team. Price pitched eight innings, giving up three runs to help lead Tampa to its eighth straight win on Friday. The Rays came into Saturday 7½ games out of the AL East lead and 4½ games out of the second wild card. Since dropping three straight to the Mariners in early June, the Rays are 26-11.
Multiple outlets are reporting that because of the recent winning streak, the Rays will wait until at least 48 hours before the deadline to make any deal, if at all.
That means Zduriencik may need to have other options in place. The Mariners have set up possible deals for Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd, who is hitting .270 with 19 homers and 59 runs batted in.
The Mariners had the framework for a possible deal for Byrd set up. However, Byrd has Seattle on his four-team no-trade list. A report out of Philadelphia said Byrd would only waive the no-trade clause if the Mariners were to pick up his 2016 option year. That would cost Seattle $8 million when Byrd will be 38.
Seattle has also scouted Rockies’ center fielder Drew Stubbs, and reportedly made a formal offer to acquire him. The former first-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds has resuscitated his career with Colorado, aided by the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field. Stubbs is hitting .300 with an .841 OPS this season. He’s also above average defensively in all three outfield spots. The Rockies are desperate for young pitching — starting or relief. The Mariners have both.
Seattle has even been linked to a possible deal for Dodgers’ disgruntled outfielder Matt Kemp. The former all-star wants to be an every day center fielder since he’s no longer in that role for the Dodgers. Los Angeles isn’t in a hurry to move him because it needs his right-handed bat. Kemp’s contract, which will pay him a total of $107 million form 2015 to 2019 is a major issue for a player that has failed to stay healthy the past four seasons and appears to be in decline because of the myriad injuries.
Beyond those options, the Mariners have looked at White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo, scouted Pirates outfielder Starling Marte, could possibly look at outfielder Alex Rios of the Rangers, wish for first baseman Mike Napoli of the Red Sox and basically consider any other competent right-handed hitter with a pulse that might be available.