Mired at the bottom of the AL West for the past few seasons and in need of some significant upgrades on offense, it would appear as though the Seattle Mariners are unwilling to discuss trading any of their top young arms in a potential deal. The team would rather address their offensive needs on the free agent market, according to the Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton on Twitter.
Seattle’s collection of young arms focuses mainly on three names: Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, and James Paxton. The trio has been highly touted as they’ve climbed through the organization’s minor league system and two of them (Walker and Paxton) made their MLB Debuts this past season. Their immediate place in the Mariners’ rotation, however, remains unclear as both could end up seeing more time down at Triple-A to begin the 2014 season.
Walker’s easily the big name of the group, having twice ranked among the Top 20 prospects in the game according to Baseball America. The 20 year old split his 2013 season between Double-A and Triple-A, making 25 starts on the year and throwing 141.1 IP. His numbers were good, posting a combined 2.93 ERA and 1.196 WHIP on the year before making his debut with the Mariners at the end of August. In three starts to close out the season he’d pitch well, allowing just 11 hits and 4 walks while striking out 12 over 15.0 IP
Paxton has been less heralded, but he too has been twice named among the Top 100 prospects by BA. The left-hander has seen less success in the minor leagues than Walker, but figures just as prominently in the team’s future plans for their rotation behind Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma.
The wildcard here is Hultzen, of course, who’s status remains in doubt. After missing most of the 2013 season due to discomfort in his shoulder, the team announced in late September that he’d need to undergo surgery on his labrum, causing him to miss the entire 2014 season. There is optimism that he’ll be able to return to form following the procedure, but there are no certainties.
Seattle will need to make some moves this winter in order to beef up their offense. The team has potential holes at both first and third base as well as in the outfield, so there is room for improvement. Never a top destination for free agents, it will be interesting to see just how willing to spend the organization might be in order to land a quality bat on the open market without parting with their young pitching.