Sports with Art Thiel
5:00 am
Fri August 1, 2014

Mariners Make Down-To-The-Wire Deals For Two Starting Players

It was an abrupt exit for Detroit Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson. He was taken out of Thursday night's Tigers game against the Chicago White Sox after his trade to the Mariners became official. The Mariners gave up three minor league players in two separate deals that brings Jackson and San Diego Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia to Seattle. Both are expected to play in the weekend series in Baltimore.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says it's about time the Mariners didn't "give away the farm" to get some good players.

'Worked Out Well'

"The Mariner fan base might be a little shocked to know that the Mariners came out ahead," Art said. "At least it appears so; we obviously never know in any trade until years down the road, but at least from first blush, this worked out well."

In the final hours before the Major League Baseball trade deadline, the Mariners entered into a three-way trade with the Tigers and the Tampa Bay Rays that netted them Jackson, a strong hitter and talented outfielder who has an impressive vertical leap.

Mariners assistant general Manager Jeff Kingston told AM 1090 The Fan that "Jackson was a key part of World Series teams, and typically teams like that aren’t eager to move [starters]. Rarely do you see a contender move a core player off the roster."

The Mariners sent Triple-A Tacoma shortstop Nick Franklin to the Rays to complete the deal. In a separate trade earlier Thursday, the Mariners sent minor leaguers Abraham Almonte (OF) and Stephen Kohlscheen (P) to the Padres in exchange for outfielder Denorfia.

'A Really Big Deal'

Art says the Mariners have solved a couple of their problems by getting two starting outfielders without giving up any current major leaguers or any of their prized young pitching, such as Taijuan Walker and James Paxton.

"That was a really big deal to keep those guys in hand and still get two starting position players," he said.

Jackson Not A 'Rent-A-Player'

Art says the big news is Austin Jackson.

"He is a 27-year-old outfielder with a lot of upside. And the Mariners can control his contract through this year and next year before he becomes a free agent," Art said. "He's not a rent-a-player. He's going to be around. He's going to start and play in center field. He's going to replace — temporarily at least — James Jones, who's been in a terrible slump after his very fast start once he was called up from Tacoma earlier this year."

In past trades, Mariners have given up talented young players who shine on their new teams (like Orioles star Adam Jones) to get big-name players who fizzle out or become injured once they arrive in Seattle (like pitcher Erik Bedard).

'Things Are Looking Up'

Art says this new Mariners' lineup gives fans some hope that the team still has a shot at the playoffs. He says they need to hit.

"The Mariners are 50 and 19 when they score more than three runs, so if these [new] guys can deliver a little bit on their basic Major League averages, things are looking up."

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You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and Crosscut.com.