|AP Photo - Associated Press|
This reality puts management in a tough position where they are looking for a balance of legitimate success this season without completely mortgaging the future.
Could the key piece to a smooth transition lie in their talented, yet frustrating center fielder, Carlos Gomez?
The Seattle Mariners are checking in with multiple teams on landing a right-handed outfield bat, preferably one with power.
The players include: Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, Yoenis Cespedes of the Red Sox and Justin Upton of the Braves. They've also been rumored to be contacting free agent Nelson Cruz, but it doesn't seem likely he'd sign with Seattle.
|AP Photo - Associated Press|
First of all, Gomez is still a Gold Glove caliber center fielder, whereas the other three would be pegged for corner outfield duty. While Cespedes has a cannon, his overall defense isn't great. Kemp is no longer the outfielder he was before his injuries and Upton would be a solid left fielder, but less impressive in right.
Gomez brings with him elite defense in center where he would be extremely
valuable in spacious Safeco Field. Though his defensive metrics slipped last
season, the three-year look (which is the minimum you should use) still rates
at the top.
And, of course, Gomez's power and speed combination is a deadly threat offensively. He has averaged 22 HR and 37 stolen bases. Gomez has also boosted his OBP to .338 and .358 the past two seasons, pushing his OPS to .838 in that time.
Gomez's OBP has bumped up due to 29 hit-by-pitches and an elevated batting average. Gomez hit .284 in each of the past two seasons, but it's been assisted by an extremely lucky batting average of balls in play (BABIP), sitting at .341 during that period. The NL average was .299.
Meanwhile, Go-Go's contract situation also trumps the rest of the group.
He has two years remaining at $8 million and $9 million respectively. Both Upton and Cespedes have only one year left, meaning they'd both be rentals. On top of that, Upton is due to make $14.5 million while Cespedes will earn $10.5 million in 2015.
As for Kemp, he's under contract through 2019, but he'll cost $21 million next season and $21.5 million in each of the last four years of the deal. In all, he will be owed $107 million from now to the end of his contract.
That's a hefty price tag for a club who already has big deals in place with Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez. There also needs to be some concerns with Kemp's durability over the long haul.
|Jeffrey Phelps - Associated Press|
Personally, I'm worried about a major injury and nagging ones that will sap his speed and range. He plays with a high motor, but he also has the reckless abandon that lends itself to injuries, dumb outs on the bases, and enough downside that it may be worth moving on.
So, what would the Mariners be willing to part with remains the question? If the Brewers were really going to move Gomez to Seattle, however, at least two of the following three players would need to be included.
Taijuan Walker - Starting Pitcher
|Chris Young - Canadian Press, Associated Press|
Walker throws 93-96 MPH with relatively ease, utilizing tremendous arm action and velocity. He also throws a cutter that is said to be developing extremely well and sits in the low 90s. Walker also features a solid curveball. Though it can be a touch inconsistent, when he's going well, the 12-6 drop is sharp and makes him a legit ace.
Walker was rated as the number 11 prospect (pre-2014) overall according to Baseball America, and top 10 prior to the last two seasons by MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus. He has a huge ceiling, tremendous stuff, and by all accounts, a great makeup to go with his strong frame (6'4" 225 lbs.).
D.J. Peterson - Third Base, First Base
The Mariners 2nd-rated prospect in their system a year ago, Peterson would be on the fast track to take over third base in 2016 for the Brewers (maybe earlier if Aramis Ramirez gets hurt). Peterson would be the young, stud third baseman they've been lacking for years.
Between the high-A and double-A levels in 2014, Peterson blasted 31 home runs, 31 doubles and drove in 111 runs while posting a .297/.360/.552/.912 slash line. Also just 22 years old, Peterson has already been rated as above average with his hit tools, power and arm, though his overall defense still needs some work.
James Paxton - Starting Pitcher
Already 26 years old, Paxton's ceiling isn't as high as the other two, but he'd be a valuable, controlled left-hander in the rotation. In 17 career starts with the Mariners (13 last season), Paxton owns a 2.66 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.
His home run rate has been good thus far, even away from pitcher-friendly Safeco. Paxton found himself on the disabled list for a time in 2014, but he should be fine moving forward, hopefully with his mid-90s fastball and tight breaking ball intact.
Now keep in mind, the Brewers don't need to trade Gomez. Melvin should only deal him if he's getting top potential or ability in terms of young MLB talent or prospects. It is important to examine these possibilities to cash in on Gomez's value when it's potentially at its highest.
|Brad Rempel - Associated Press|
The other additional possibility, especially if Taijuan Walker comes to Milwaukee, is to move Yovani Gallardo to further upgrade the offense and/or the bullpen.
Either way, I hope Melvin has at least been gauging the interest of his
former assistant and current Seattle general manager, Jack Zduriencik
- another reason a deal between the two clubs could be struck.
A move like this could very well allow the Brewers to remain as competitive (or better) in 2015, as well as set them up better for the future.