The signing of Robinson Cano has got my mind back into the wondrous world of wishful thinking...
The Mariners signing of Cano brings to mind the second-base issues of the local squadron. While a Ryan Goins/Maicer Izturis platoon wouldn't be as "awful" as people think (underwhelming is the word), second base is a position in need of an upgrade. On that, lets keep our attention on those same Mariners and think us up a deal. As usual, I will not argue one way or the other, only provide facts and deliciously creamy speculation to provoke the discussion. Here goes:
Toronto trades SP J.A. Happ and RP Neil Wagner to Seattle for 2B/OF Dustin Ackley
Contrary to quasi-popular belief, starting pitching is not a strength of the Mariners. Outside of Hernandez and Iwakuma, the 2013 Mariners trotted out the disheveled corpses of Aaron Harang and Joe Saunders in a sad, faint hope of getting quality innings. They do have the impressive three headed pitching prospect monster of Walker/Hultzen/Paxton arriving soon, but the Cano signing indicates an urgency to win now and all three of those guys are not going to be ready right away. Adding a pitcher like Happ, while certainly not ace level, would improve their rotation enormously without breaking the bank and bridge the gap to those young pitchers. The presence of Cano, Willie Bloomqvist and Nick Franklin also makes it hard for Ackley to have a role on this team. Wagner would also add some cheap depth to the bullpen.
We all watched the 2013 Blue Jays. We can't unwatch it. Having at least an average defensive player at second base would solve many issues for this club, and by all accounts Ackley is better than average. It might seem a sideways move to trade Happ seeing as starting pitching is also a huge need of Toronto's (and 28 other teams, of course) but there really are too many options for the last two rotation spots and the loss of Happ would simplify that situation. The money saved in the deal could also be used in acquiring a free agent starter.
A closer look at Ackley:
A second overall pick in 2009, Ackley has come to the majors quickly (arguably too quickly). He began his professional career in AA and while he didn't set the world on fire there (.263/.389/.384) the Mariners promoted him to the video game-like confines of the PCL where he kicked butt. Ackley's numbers in the majors aren't anything special but he is still young (25) relatively cheap and a good glove man at second base. His numbers throughout his Mariner career are better on the road (more power) also. Interestingly, he has hit lefties and righties perfectly equally throughout his big league career.
A closer look at Happ/Wagner:
With Happ, you know what you're going to get. He can eat some innings for you, give you an occasional brilliant start but mostly he'll go five or six innings, give up three or four runs and walk more guys than you're comfortable with. A decent guy to have at the back of a rotation. The freak injury in Tampa Bay really threw his season off the rails as he probably could've been the third or even second best starting pitcher on this team (not saying much there). Throwing Wagner in allows the Blue Jays to deal from their one area of considerable strength: bullpen depth.
So what do you guys think? Does this make sense? Is it crazy but not "hah hah" crazy?
(By the way, with all the crazy contracts being handed out to free agent starting pitchers, does anyone else think that Happ might have significant trade value? Scott Feldman is getting 10 million a year. Scott Feldman! Happ at 5 million, with the 6.7 million option in 2015 might start looking like a bargain.)