Wade Miley, Nori Aoki and Steve Cishek are among the Mariners who could be dealt by the trade deadline Monday.
CHICAGO — It was less than 30 minutes after the Mariners had secured a stunning 4-1 win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Much of the reason for the win was a brilliant outing from Wade Miley. The left-hander outdueled Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning and looking every bit the starter the Mariners had hoped he would be this season.
After a few quick questions about his outing, the conversation turned to the lingering trade deadline Monday.
Miley is one of a few Mariners rumored to be on the market. Seattle has talked to the pitching-desperate Dodgers about Miley and any other team in search of starting pitching depth. With quality starts in four of his past five outings, Miley might be a solid, low-cost consolation acquisition for a team.
The rumors offered him no motivation or distraction in Saturday’s outing.
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“I just pitch,” he said. “My job is to pitch. Whatever team it’s for, I just want to go out and compete and whatever team I’m playing for, give that team a chance to win.”
Of course, Miley isn’t immune to the rumor-filled lunacy that is this time of the season. He avoids social media, which is helpful for him. But he’s aware his name has been mentioned as a possible trade candidate.
“You know about it,” he said. “You have agents and they are calling us and letting us know about things. It’s a bunch of a speculation until something happens, at least in my mind. So far as that goes, I’m just here to pitch.”
Because the Mariners have considered trading Miley, it doesn’t make them sellers. And because they have shown some interest in acquiring Reds shortstop Zack Cosart, it doesn’t make them buyers.
General manager Jerry Dipoto doesn’t look it in a binary sense.
“I’m looking to improve our team for this season and going forward,” he said.
It’s why he sold high on Mike Montgomery for Dan Vogelbach and Paul Blackburn in a deal with the Cubs. And it’s why Cozart, who is hitting .267 with a .787 OPS, more sure-handed than Ketel Marte and under contract for next season, has some appeal to Seattle.
While Dipoto has shot down any mention of trading Taijuan Walker or James Paxton, he won’t be opposed to moving certain players. Here’s a closer look at some candidates:
Norichika Aoki, outfield
He’s been a disappointment this season, hitting .248 with a .320 on-base percentage and having to spend some time in Tacoma. Instead of being a leadoff hitter and an igniter of the offense, he’s reduced to only playing against right-handed pitchers and remains a liability in the outfield. The Mariners also must make sure his vesting option for 2017 isn’t reached.
Why would a team want him? Well, he does have some versatility and would be viable as a bench player. He has hit better of late since being promoted from Tacoma.
Steve Cishek, reliever
The Mariners’ closer picked up his 25th save Saturday. He’s had some bumpy spots along the way, blowing five saves and giving up seven home runs in 46 innings. But he’s struck out 61 batters and walked just 16. The market for relievers at midseason always gets overpriced and the Mariners could flip Cishek for some needed depth and test Edwin Diaz — their closer of the future — in that situation on a limited basis while also using Drew Storen.
Why would a team want him? Cishek’s value to an opposing team probably isn’t as a closer, but he could be very strong in a setup role where he was used in situations to get out right-handed hitters. Opposing right-handed hitters are batting just .148 with a .465 OPS against him.
Adam Lind, first base
He hasn’t been the force against right-handed pitching the Mariners had hoped. His numbers are average: .227 batting average, 10 doubles, 15 homers and 43 RBI with a .698 OPS. Lind is going to be a free agent after this season and the Mariners have Vogelbach mashing pitching in Class AAA. If they can get something for Lind, even a midlevel prospect, it’s something they will explore. He could also be a waiver trade candidate later in August.
Why would a team want him? Lind has enough of a track record that a team in need of a left-handed bat with some pop might take a chance. He has experienced success in both leagues.
Seth Smith, outfield
The veteran outfielder has been solid this season in the platoon role the Mariners planned for him. He’s batting .277 with eight doubles, 11 homers, 40 RBI and an .830 OPS vs. right-handers. He also works well in the Mariners’ “Control the Zone” philosophy, dragging out counts and forcing pitchers to work. He’s relatively cheap with a $7 million club option for next season, which is a reason to keep him.
Why would a team want him? Smith puts together mature big-league at-bats and understands his role on a team. Teams like that. He’s a low-maintenance player who produces against right-handed pitching. While not a Gold Glove level defender, he can play both corner outfield positions.
Franklin Gutierrez, outfield
Take what Smith brings and put in a right-handed hitter and you have Gutierrez. The veteran outfielder hasn’t been quite as productive as last season, hitting .244 with six doubles, 10 homers and 26 RBI and a .791 OPS. He’s still a home run threat when he steps into the box. His health is, and always will be, an issue. He also has regressed considerably on defense and is a below-average outfielder.
Why would a team want him? For the same reasons a team would want Smith. Gutierrez is a veteran who can play both corner spots and is a power bat from the right side.