BOSTON — Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline passed Wednesday with the Seattle Mariners choosing to participate only minimally.
General manager Jack Zduriencik said he wasn’t going to be aggressive two weeks ago, and he wasn’t, choosing to keep his major league team intact.
The only move the Mariners made was sending minor league infielder Robert Andino — whom they designated for assignment earlier in the season — to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named or cash considerations. Andino was hitting .229 (35-for-153) in 44 games since being outrighted to Tacoma.
Zduriencik decided not to trade any of the players on the Mariners’ 25-man or 40-man rosters.
“I didn’t think there was the right situation for us at this time,” he said. “I didn’t feel that way. There’s an obligation here to our fans and certainly to the players here on this team. They’ve played well recently. So at the end, I said all along I wasn’t going to be the aggressor. I didn’t think there was a need to be, and this is where we are.”
There were teams interested in acquiring reliever Oliver Perez or even outfielder Michael Morse, despite his recent injuries. The Baltimore Orioles were one team in particular.
However, the Mariners weren’t interested in what teams were offering. Zduiencik was looking for players or top prospects who could help in the near future — such as next season — and teams were reluctant give them up.
“I said this to anyone I talked to at any point in time, there were pieces here that could help another club win,” Zduriencik said. “And if you wanted to acquire those pieces, there was a price to pay to acquire them. If (another team wasn’t) willing to pay that price, then we weren’t in position to have any deep conversations that were going to lead to a trade. I think I was up front about that. I think I made that pretty clear.”
Although the Mariners went into ther day at 50-56 and 8ß games out in the wild card race, Zduriencik was hesitant to alter the roster just for the sake of making a move. He felt it could have negative consequences in a clubhouse filled with young players.
“I think we have a good, young big-league club right now. You see that in front of your eyes,” Zduriencik said. “To detract from it, I think it would have been devastating to some of the guys in this clubhouse. I think it would have been the wrong message to send. So you stay the course and watch this club play the next couple months.”
The Mariners have a high number of players whose contracts expire after this season, and many of them might not be back next year. So by keeping this team together for the next two months, what does Zduriencik hope to gain?
“When you let a guy leave, it’s harder to get a guy back,” he said. “Once you break your marriage up and you want to go back and ask that player to come back, it’s much harder to do. He probably feels somewhat betrayed. Now you have to start all over again. They certainly they have the right to walk, but we also have the first right to re-sign them if we choose to do that.
“And I think that’s important to a player, especially if they like Seattle. If they are saying, I’d like to be part of this thing going forward. I like what’s going on. It would be great. Who knows, we may have the inside track on some of these players (coming) back here. That was a little bit of the thinking as well.”
Of those players who could leave, Zduriencik has already begun the process of trying to bring some back. The most important of those conversations surrounds first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales, who has been one of the team’s best hitters.
“I think some of the players understand how we feel about them,” Zduriencik said. “I’ve had indirect conversations with them. Some I’ve had direct (conversations), quite frankly. But I do think as we move forward from now till the end of the year, that will accelerate as we get closer to the end.”
The Mariners wrap up the three-game series at Boston with right-hander Felix Hernandez (11-4, 2.34 ERA) getting the start Thursday. The Red Sox will counter with right-hander Ryan Dempster (6-8, 4.24). First pitch is set for 4:10 p.m. (PDT). The game will be broadcast on Root Sports, 1030-AM and 710-AM.