Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

mariners logoWith the Chicago Cubs likely buyers this year for the first time in the last several Trade Deadlines, we thought it would be appropriate to take a brief look at some of the teams that could become sellers. These teams could present possible fits for the Cubs should they look to improve externally. 

Previously: Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Atlanta Braves, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox, Miami Marlins.

Possible Seller

Seattle Mariners

Record and Standings

  • Current Record: 44-52 (.458 W%)
  • Projected End of Season Record (PECOTA): 76-86
  • Standings: Fourth place in AL West, 7.5 games back of second Wild Card

Why They Might Be Sellers

The Mariners are very hard to judge. Near the bottom of the AL heap, there is no reason to believe they will be making the playoffs in 2015 (under 3% chance, according to BP), but there is not much evidence that they will sell, either. Although, that’s mostly because there aren’t many obvious trade candidates. Nonetheless, if you’re in last place, there should be at least one short term asset that make sense to sell on, so let’s see.

How Soon They Could Be Ready to Sell

Again, without too many obvious options, it’s a bit difficult to judge. You don’t necessarily expect a team whose payroll has increased by $40 million since 2013 to sell, but they may have to. There isn’t much time from now until the Trade Deadline, though, so a trade can happen at any moment.

Realistically Available Players That Might Interest the Cubs

  • J.A. Happ
    • Position: Starting Pitcher
    • Bats/Throws: L/L
    • Age: 32
    • Contract: $6.7M in 2015
    • 2015 Stats: 102.2 IP, 4.12 ERA (3.89 xFIP), .318 BABIP, 11.5 K-BB%, 1.6 WAR
    • Recent Rumors/News on Bleacher Nation: Thanks to the word “Happy” and the Cubs new Prospect Ian “Happ” it’s quite difficult to find previous posts, if there were any, on J.A. Happ. I don’t remember any specific rumors this season, though.
  • Fernando Rodney
    • Position: Reliever
    • Bats/Throws: R/R
    • Age: 38
    • Contract: $7M in 2015
    • 2015 Stats: 37 IP, 5.59 ERA (4.59 xFIP), .291 BABIP, 6.7 K-BB%, -0.8 WAR
    • Recent Rumors/News on Bleacher Nation: None.
  • Seth Smith
    • Position: Outfielder
    • Bats/Throws: L/L
    • Age: 32
    • Contract: $6M in 2015, $6.75M in 2016, $7M club option ($.25M buyout) in 2017.
    • 2015 Stats: 275 PAs, .250/.330/.417, .315 BABIP, 9.5 BB%, 22.2 K%, 1.7 WAR
    • Recent Rumors/News on Bleacher Nation: Here, sort of.
  • Dustin Ackley
    • Position: 2B/Oufielder
    • Bats/Throws: L/R
    • Age: 27
    • Contract: $2.6M in 2015, eligible for arbitration in 2016 and 2017
    • 2015 Stats: 196 PAs, .216/.275/.369, .235 BABIP, 7.1 BB%, 18.4 K%, -0.3 WAR
    • Recent Rumors/News on Bleacher Nation: Here, tangentially.
  • Hisashi Iwakuma
    • Position: Starting Pitcher
    • Bats/Throws: R/R
    • Age: 34
    • Contract: $7M in 2015
    • 2015 Stats: 42 IP, 4.50 ERA (3.43 xFIP), .264 BABIP, 14.7% K-BB, -0.1 WAR
    • Recent Rumors/News on Bleacher Nation: Here.

Overall Fit with Cubs

Well, there’s not much to see here. I’ll start with the least desirable, and work my way up…

Hello, Fernando Rodney. The Mariners 38-year-old reliever has not had a very productive year, though he was quite good last season. In 2014, Rodney had a 2.85 ERA, with an FIP (2.83) and xFIP (3.14) to support it. Despite his BABIP being .40 points lower in 2015, his results – both traditional and peripheral – are quite bad. Notably, he is allowing far more home runs (1.7 per 9) than he has in his career (.68 per 9). Perhaps the Cubs may see something in Rodney that the Mariners don’t, but I think there are better, equally attainable, options out there.

Which brings me to Dustin Ackley – the once top youngster who has never recaptured the magic of his 2011 season. Ackley is still young and under control for a few more years, but my guess is that his acquisition would be more about his potential in the future – if any still remains – than his ability to impact the 2015 season.

Next is J.A. Happ – a lefty, rental starting pitcher that has been okay in 2015, but whose peripherals suggest he could be a tad better. Happ represents one of the cheap alternative deadline pickups that could be targeted if other opportunities fall through. He’s nothing to get excited about, though, especially because he has never thrown more than 166 innings in a season in his major league career (since 2007).

Last up, and the most attractive one of the group, is Seth Smith. Smith has been quietly pretty good for the Rockies, Athletics, Padres and Mariners over the past 7.5 seasons – well maybe not so quietly. At 32 years old, Smith is under control for 2016 and has a club option – with a cheap buyout – in 2017. On the year, he’s collected 1.7 WAR with an .800 OPS over just 275 innings. The Mariners just traded for Smith this past offseason, giving up young pitcher Brandon Maurer – who has been pretty lights out as a reliever for the Padres over 45 innings (2.00 ERA). The Mariners may very elect to keep Smith, though, and try again in 2016 … especially because Robinson Cano – who has $24M due annually until 2023 – isn’t going anywhere.

[Brett: With Hisashi Iwakuma get a brief mention in the Lukewarm Stove last night, I added him here after Michael wrote this piece. It still doesn’t sounds like the Mariners are keen to move him, even if they sell, and I’m not sure he’s the right rental in any case. But, as an expiring contract, he merited at least some acknowledgement now that his name has popped up.]

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