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Notebook: Trade Ichiro Now?

Posted by Jason A. Churchill on February 28, 2007

The title “Would You Trade Ichiro?” is another story for another day – let’s say, late June or early July – but the addition of the term “NOW” at the tail end makes the question a little more interesting, at least as we sit and await the start of the 2007 season.

Whether you would or would not trade Ichiro after it’s clear the M’s are not going to compete in 2007 – and perhaps as the club, and the fans alike, learn how possible or impossible it will be to extend the all-star’s contract, is completely irrelevant in response to this particular question.

Would you trade Ichiro NOW? Would you accept a group of prospects and/or zero-to-threes in return for Ichiro on March 1?

Let’s gather up a few scenarios, totally speculatory and near-fantasy like on my part, but just for fun…

If the Boston Red Sox offered prospects such as CF Jacob Ellsbury, LHP Jon Lester and RHP Clay Buchholz, does it even make you blink?

What if the Chicago Cubs offered CF Felix Pie, LHP Donald Veal and LHP Rich Hill, is that enough for Ichiro?

Neither deal is exciting? I agree.

But what if the New York Yankees called and offered OF Jose Tabata, 3B Alex Rodriguez and OF Melky Cabrera for Ichiro and Adrian Beltre? I think I’d have to blink pretty regularly at that idea.

How about the Dodgers as players in the Ichiro sweepstakes? Starting with RHP Brad Penny or southpaw prospect Scott Elbert, LAD could put together a pretty darned good deal.

OF Matt Kemp is an interesting young talent, as is 1B James Loney, who is a perfect fit for Safeco Field; a spray hitter with the ability to hit the gaps to the opposite field and pull liners and fly balls deep to right field.

If LAD still has a little thing for Beltre, maybe he could be involved in this one, too. But only if the Dodgers are sending third base spect Andy LaRoche up north, too.

The Mets probably aren’t all that into the idea, because they are saving their top trade pieces, Lastings Milledge and perhaps Philip Humber, in case they get the chance to make a deal for a legit frontline starting pitcher.

Whatever the Mariners decide to do – trade Ichiro or not – they need to take a look around the league and ask for the moon, because more than one club can afford to lasso the beaming rock and mail it to Safeco.

But what would you do?

Speaking of Prospects:
Mets No. 1 prospect Mike Pelfrey is not going to be traded, unless the Cardinals beg the Mets to take Mr. Pujols off their hands. The Mets love their 2005 first-rounder, and they should. Low-90s heat with a 2-seam heater that has plus sink, and a four-seamer that tops out at 99. Oh, and he’s already mastered the art of the change-up.


New York also has two of the most intriguing young outfield prospects in all of baseball in Carlos Gomez, 21, and Fernando Martinez, 18. Gomez has a shot to see some big-league time this season with a strong showing in AAA to start 2007, and Martinez may start his season, at 18 years old mind you, in AA.

Martinez, a lefthanded bat, has plus power and could be among the top few prospects in the game very quickly.

Gomez is the Mets center fielder of the future and has every tool, including above-average power, that one could want in a player. If Carlos Beltran is around for his entire contract, Gomez’s throwing arm is plenty strong enough to warrant time in right field.

The luster has warn off the Anaheim Angels farm system, just a bit. Dallas McPherson and Casey Kotchman have yet to prove they could stay healthy and catcher Jeff Mathis struggled mightily in the big leagues last season.

It should be noted that Kotchman’s issues have been more of the illness type than the injury type, however, and if he can get back on the field consistently, there is no reason he can’t become an all-star.

Mathis is still a very good catching prospect, too, and we can’t forget about the likes of Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, Jered Weaver, Nick Adenhart and Brandon Wood. The Halos are still loaded with young talent.

The Kansas City Royals are no longer the laughing stock of baseball. Trust me, their days of 95 losses are over. New GM Dayton Moore is no dummy, even after inking Gil Meche to perhaps the worst contract of the offseason.

So why are they not going to be laughed at anymore? Six words: Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Luke Hochevar.

Gordon may be the game’s best prospect, and is the closest thing to a surefire talent that minor league baseball has to offer. Billy Butler can’t do a lot of things. He can’t field or throw, he doesn’t run well and I hear he has a hell of a time telling a joke correctly.

But the dude can rake. The Royals have two legit MOTO bats that are just about ready for the show, and with the addition of Meche, who, let’s face it, is an upgrade over what they’ve had, regardless of the money and his lack of success in Seattle, the return of Zack Greinke and the possible mid-season addition of last year’s top pick, Luke Hochevar, KC’s rotation isn’t all that stanky afterall. At least in the “ability” department, and that will give the club, and that improving offense, a fighting chance, which is something they haven’t had in years.

And THEN He Mentioned the Mariners:
I got into a conversation with a farm director over the weekend and we began talking about the droves of good young talent in the game today. The dicussion went quickly to pitching and when it sunk into the area of prep draftees and those top talents projected to be playing in A ball in 2007, he went out of his way to mention that the Seattle Mariners appeared to be in good shape in that area.

“Their system isn’t terrible, it really never was in my opinion,” he said. “They just lacked, and still do really, enough of it (talent) ready to come help a good big-league club win or a mediocre roster to compete.”

“Their overall talent corps is solid, albeit four years away and full of risk. But that’s what the game is about. Seattle has done pretty well for themselves in the draft.”

Churchill: “Do you know much about the three Latin kids they inked? Carlos Triunfel, Mario Martinez and Juan Carlos Ramirez?”

Farm Director: “Not a lot, but I have heard a lot of great things about Triunfel. Our guys wanted him really bad, too, but we just didn’t get on him quick enough. Is Ramirez the power arm? Yeah, our Venezuelan Area guy was kinda teed off about not signing him a few years back. We were right there, and I know he throws hard and is just a kid still.”

Churchill: “Honestly and objectively, what do you, and perhaps others you have conversed with, think of the M’s system?”

Farm Director: “It’s not great. Their best talent is at the very top in Jones and the kid from SC (Clement), but they don’t have any depth up there. Their best guys after that are so far from being contributors. I think that their second and third-rounders (Butler, Tillman) might be better prospects than Morrow, and I saw a lot of Morrow, I was the West Coast coordinator last year and he was explosive.”

“All in all, I’d say they grade about average, but they are on the right path, kind of like we are. We had gaps, and now we’re filling them every year with really good kids. Seattle has as many big-league caliber teenagers as anyone.”


47 Responses to “Notebook: Trade Ichiro Now?”

  1. StandinPat said

    Biggest problem I see with trading Ichiro, is who becomes your leadoff hitter? The idea of getting two very good young SP’s and a potential MOTO bat out of a trade for him seems like it would more than make sense, espescially with the FA salaries that have been thrown around lately.

  2. Aaron said

    I would trade Ichiro right now if the Dodgers came calling with an offer of Andre Either (OF), James Loney (1B/OF), Chad Billingsly (SP) and another lesser pitching prospect. If they did not want to include Billingsly then I’d take Scott Elbert or Clayton Kershaw or both. I know Ichiro is a great player, and trading him would leave a huge hole at the top of the lineup, but a trade like this would bolster our young nucleous and they’d be able to grow together. You could have a lineup full of younger players next year. If you acquired Loney, you could then trade Sexson for more pitching. I mean, in a couple of years you could have a rotation of Felix, Billingsly, Butler, Tillman and Morrow. That might be really impressive. And a lineup that include Loney, Either, Jones, Betancourt, Lopez, Beltre, Clement. Not bad at all.

  3. marinerswinws said

    IF we trade Ichiro, Jeremey Reed would likely lead off.

  4. Egaas said

    I don’t see Ichiro as worth what he’s going to cost as a player the next several years. As an icon to the organization, marketing and ticket sales, maybe, but for the right package of young, nearly ready major league prospects, I’d be quite intrigued to move him.

    I just don’t think Bavasi has the cajones to make a deal or get the right return.

  5. Dave Cairns said

    Jon Lester has to be worth looking at if you were going to trade Ichiro. Question is who would Boston give up with Lester and would they give up Lester at all.

  6. Digger said

    Ah, come on you guys. Why do you think Bavasi’s payroll just went up $15M/year? If they contend this year (and I think they will), then Ichiro will be here next year.

  7. Nathan said

    After reading the fox article on the two mets guys Id probably go for them flanking both sides of adam jones if all three become what they say they will WOW! Thats a hella of awsome outfield for years to come!!!

  8. Adam said

    I say trade him NOW, just because I think he’s made clear that he wants to test the FA waters – and that he wants to win. And I don’t think he believes the M’s can in fact win.

    I understand that this is a HUGE PR hit, especially in light of the “win now” deals that Bavasi brokered this offseason, but I think you can get a couple of ML-ready prospects for Ichiro and still keep the team competitive.

    So I’d be calling up Ned Coletti, Brian Cashman, Theo Epstein, Bill Stoneman, and Omar Minaya.

    Give me six years of Billingsley/Kemp/Loney or something along those lines than six months of Ichiro.

  9. Katal said

    Ditto what practically everyone else is saying.

    For an offer like one of the better ones you mentioned, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

    This is a city who’s seen Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr., and Gary Payton traded away. We can deal with losing Ichiro if the return is good enough.

  10. Goose said

    Here’s how I would deal with Ichiro.

    I’d present him a contract that would have 3 years in type, but the money portion would have the dollar sign and a line. I would give him a pen and tell him he has 2 choices. He can either fill in the dollar amount and his signature, or I’m gonna trade him. End of story.

    If he doesn’t sign that contract, I get on the phone, and trade him to the highest bidder.

  11. Lance said

    Jason, do you have no idea who the #10 prospect should be? I do believe you’re stalling. Are you no longer the prospect insider?

  12. Gookie said

    I WANT JON LESTER…And a whole hell of a lot more thrown into the trade.

    We should get another randy johnson type trade.

    Then again, we should get woody woodpecker back on board too.

  13. Ozzie said

    I don’t want Lester, I believe his up-side is just a 3 or 4 starter. No dominating pitch and control issues. If you trade your star then you need a potential star or two in return not just a average pitcher.

  14. 3rd Watch said

    I’m open to trading Ichiro for the right package. I like the Mets young arms and bats but feel that they might be getting that NY hype. I’d jump on the bandwagon and go after the Dodgers young guys. You could take on some salary and land Penny, take your pick from thier top talent. I like Either, Loney, Kemp, Billingsey and LaRoche.

    Hmm. I’m dreaming that a deal will pan out. I just think that his value is at a peak right now and at the trade deadline we could be hung out to dry and only recieve one good prospect back. We should not wait for the time bomb to go off and realize that the current roster will be average. 81-81.

  15. Turtle said

    Bottom line is our super stars leave and so will Ichiro.We must trade now while we have any kind of leverage.This deal will be for mlb ready prospects so we might as well get them in camp now versus july.

  16. cujo said

    Bavasi wont trade Itch until they are eliminated and then i dont know if yamaguchi will allow it.But my guess is we are 13 out by june 25th.The mets have a cf they owe alot of money to right know and i get the felling Itch doesnt want to be shuffeled from cf to rf to cf to rf.Also i think they will respect his wishes of not wanting to play in the rotten apple!

  17. Sneekes said

    Would I trade him now? Yes I would.

    But if I’d been told my job depends on this year alone, and if I’d just thrown all my money at competing now (Vidro & Weaver deals) then I’d be mad to.

    I fear that the short-termism imposed on Bavasi by Lincoln will completely scupper what should have been a rebuilding year for the Mariners.

  18. pslim said

    A Beltre/Ichiro package to LA is worth exploring for sure. If the M’s could get Kemp/Ethier, Loney, and LaRoche that’d be amazing. LA seems to not have much confidence in their prospects. Kemp and Loney arguably could outproduce Gonzlez and Garciappara this year. And they benched Ethier for Marlon Anderson last year. LaRoche is the one guy I think they’re counting on to have a job as soon as he’s ready for it.

  19. AdelaideMariner said

    I would have traded him yesterday.
    I know what he means and brings to our m’s as a buisness,not to mention his out-of-this-world talent ,BUT his is what 33(?),is he going to be filling seats,and getting as many hits 2-3 years from now?,i doubt it(Not to mention the bloated salary).If you can get the FUTURE for ichiro,i think its worth trading our PRESENT.

  20. Jesse said

    I definetly think at least exploring an ichiro deal is good for the mariners. Lets face it ichiro will walk at the end of the year, if the ms don’t win this season. Mariners can’t afford to make the same mistake that the sonics just made by not trading rashard lewis. Trade him now if the return is good enough. The deal that jason described for a-rod, jose tabata and melky cabrera, (though probably unrealistic) would be amazing.

  21. Slack said

    The Dodgers would definately be the team to trade with. The question is, would Bavasi be shrewd enough to do it?

  22. After the Snelling/Fruto and Soriano deals, does anyone want Bavasi being the one to trade Ichiro??? Seriously???

    Hell freakin’ no.

    I’m not at all against trading Ichiro — I’d certainly rather trade Ichiro than to get what we got for A-Rod. There could be some interesting packages put together — and a trade to the Cubs might be a decent fit.

    But there’s no way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks I want Bavasi as the one pulling the strings. No way.

  23. Slack said

    I agree with you. The idea of what we could possibly get for Ichiro with Bavasi pulling the strings makes me shiver and it makes my blood boil.

  24. But Bavasi HAS to be the one, because if he gets dealt it’ll be mid-season. No option there.

    Re: Dave Cairns

    Lester isn’t a future ace, so yeah, Boston would deal Lester in a package for Ichiro, I’m sure.

    Re: Lance

    I know who the entire top 10 is, the rankings have been done for weeks. The html take forever…

    No. 10 will be up by Friday night – GUARANTEED or EVERYONE that emails me gets a free Mariners media guide – I have a slew of them.

  25. Lance said

    Jason, I’ve been giving your question some thought and have come to the conclusion that the Mariners should trade Ichiro NOW for zero prospects, as you asked. Maybe they can sell him to some Japanese team.

    I mean, ask a dumb questions you get a dumb answer.

  26. Jesse said

    Jason do you think the Mariners could pry Jose Tabata away from the yankees in a deal for ichiro? I know it’s probably not realistic, seeing as how they would not part with him at the deadline last season when they made the bobby abreu deal, but the thought of an outfield with adam jones, jose tabata, and matthew tuiasosopo(if the mariners do the smart thing and convert him into an outfielder)/mike wilson or one of the other servicable outfield prospects that the mariners have is enough to make me drool.

  27. Lance, before I call you the dummy here…

    I didn’t say trade for zero prospects, I asked “Would you accept a group of prospects and/or zero-to-threes in return for Ichiro on March 1?”

    “Zero-to-threes” are players, that have less than three years of big-league service time… so they aren’t yet arbitration eligible either.

    Jose Lopez is an example of a zero to three player.

  28. I dunno, Jesse. If the Yankees won’t deal Hughes or Tabata, they aren’t likely to get anyone of Ichiro’s stature.

  29. M-Pops said

    What do you think the odds are, Jason, of the M’s actually pulling the trigger on a trade that would send the M’s most marketable and best player elsewhere?

    Unless the M’s totally fall apart in the early-going, I don’t see Ichiro going anywhere. My hope is that the M’s stumble early, fire Grover, and the M’s extend Ichiro in June allowing them to trade Jones for a MOTO bat or a TOR starter for the playoff run.

    What could the M’s get in a trade involving Jones?

  30. C. Cheetah said

    Although I too am hesitant to “encourage” Bavasi to make another trade…give Ichiro an ultimatium over a 3 year deal worth $40M, with incentives to get him to $50M…if he does not take the offer by April, trade him for 2 top prospect pitchers and a “zero to three” high OBP hitter – IMO, the Dodgers are the best fit, but a three way deal with Minesota or Marlins could make me really happy as well.
    By the way, NO WAY that BAVASI could trade Sexson for young starting pitcher, so you have to get at least one in the Ichiro trade…again IMO.

  31. The odds? I think ZERO.

    They are that stupid. They’d rather lose him to another team via free agency and get a draft pick before trading him. Ya see, that way they get to say, “hey, we tried to re-sign him, and he chose to leave. Not our fault.”

    If they trade him, it’s the club’s “fault” that Ichiro is no longer a Mariner.

    Jones alone doesn’t get you a lot, unless there is a big contract attached or it’s a two-month rental. And that isn’t because of Jones’ lack of value.

    By the way, M-Pops, I think you are onto something.

    Ichiro is probably waiting for the club to can Grover, or at least feel that it’s inevitable, before inking a deal to stay.

    Personally, If I was Ichiro, I’d bolt no matter what. But I BELIEVE that Ichiro will ultimately stay and get paid way too much money for what he brings the club on the field.

  32. jp17 said

    I agree JC. I like Ichiro, but his pay is going to be astronomical and with the CF of the future about a year away, I think the money could be better utilized. Couple that with Sexson coming off the books after 2008 (or even sooner) and you have yourself some serious coin to go after premier players entering their prime instead of leaving it. It would leave us with a hole in the leadoff spot, but last year’s WS champ had a SB leader in Taguchi with 11. Tigers’ leader was Guillen with 20. The A’s leader was their catcher with 11. You don’t need a prototypical leadoff hitter to make the playoffs and go deep.

  33. I’m not so worried about a hole at the top of the lineup… this team has nine holes, basically. Ichiro is the ONLY player who would survive his spot in the order on a championship baseball team. So once he’s gone, theoretically, the team is all about the twenty-somethings.

  34. jp17 said

    I’m not too worried about the top of the order either, and is why I pointed out that a couple of the teams that went deep in the playoffs lacked a true leadoff hitter.

    I just don’t think the M’s have the balls to trade Ichiro. If anything it would be a deadline deal with the M’s faltering. However, I feel we would be losing alot of leverage at that point with teams knowing he wouldn’t come back. The right teams would have to be in the race to get a halfway decent return. Either we trade him fairly soon, or we won’t get close to fair value, IMO.

  35. Lance said

    Jason, I hope you’re not thinking I’m being serious on this thread of comments. I’m not, nor trying to be. I freely admit I’m being a dummy here.

    You and I both know there is absolutely no way any even remotely serious Ichiro trade talk begins until June 1, I don’t care who gets offered short of Albert Pujols. Trading Ichiro NOW would be giving up on the season before it even begins, and Lincoln, Bavasi and Hargrove aren’t going to do that.

    I suppose it’s fun to talk about these hot prospects coming to Seattle, but it’s nothing more. Whereas I typically take 95%+ of your writing seriously, I just can’t take this article seriously. I’m not sure you ever meant for it to be taken that way. Just fodder to excite the prospect drooling masses.

    And, you can talk about the Tabatas, Loneys, and such but no team is going to deal a MLB Top 10 prospect for an aging singles hitter who doesn’t walk, regardless of how he fields. Not until or around the trade deadline if even then.

  36. david flock said

    let me be first in line for a media guide.

  37. M-Pops said

    Jason, if Grover is canned and Ichiro desides to stay, what then happens to Jones? From what I have heard he is psyched to be a fulltime CF.

    If Jones rocks AAA pitching the way that he started to at the end of last season while playing a plus CF in Cheney, his value could rise pretty quickly. What then?

    I would have loved to bring him up and stick him in left to give him time to focus on hitting, sliding Ibanez into the DH spot. But the freakin’ Vidro trade makes that all but impossible. I can’t get over how that spot is locked up for the next 2-3 years by Jose freankin’ Vidro.

  38. Well, if Ichiro does stay with the M’s, Pac Man Jones becomes the new RF. I’d probably put him in LF at Safeco, but Rauuuul has that spot locked up for the time being.

  39. Lance said

    Why LF over RF? His skill set, including that canon arm, is more useful in right. And, Guillen’s likely gone in a year, anyway. Especially if AJ show himself ready.

  40. Left field, at Safeco, is a far more important defensive position. Jones in left with ichiro on center is a nice thought.

    But Jones should play center field ultimately. Maybe Ichiro slides back to right at age 35 or 36.

  41. rotoenquire said

    If Ichiro is to be traded, look for it to be to the NL. the M’s don’t want to have Ichiro bitting them in the butt several times over the year. As for what you could get? Who needs a leadoff hitter? Teams that are a “NO” goes as follows Mets, Dodgers, Marlins, Giants, Nationals, Rockies, Cubs, Reds. Now lets go with team that have no chance at Ichiro, the Pirates, Brewers. That leaves the Braves, Padres, Phillies and Astros.

    Of these teams The Braves could offer Kyle Davies and Chuck H. James along with Jeff Francoeur or Ryan Langerhands. James is a number 2 starter in the making and davies could be a reliable back end of the rotation guy.

    The Padres could through out Cesar Carrillo SP who is a monster in the makings. Outfielder cedric Hunter who maybe a year or two away could be a nice fit and help restock the M’s Minors.

    The Phillies have allot more that they can deal. With Micheal Bourne stuck behind Aaron Rowand, Bourne could be a great lead off guy and base stealer. Also there looking to still deal Cole hamels, the bad thing there is his back. From some reports he has a back that is not as traight as it shoulc be and could cause him problems his entire career.

    The Astros have Hunter Pence whio could be ready for a call up mid season and is a 5 tool guy. Chris burke would lose his job if Ichiro goes to the Astros and could be apart of a deal, As for some pitching Tro patton would be a great add he is a number 2 or 3 type starter who would be a nice fit for the M’s.

    I like following the minors and possible trades allot, because it helps me in Fantasy Baseball. it allows me to figure out what to do year to year in keeper leagues.

  42. Patton, Pence and Burke aren’t nearly enuff.

    None of the three are considered surefire regulars, let alone all-stars.

    The M’s have to get potential stars if they deal Ichiro for unproven talent.

    Burke is a throw-in and really brings nothing to the deal value wise.

    LAD, AZ, NYY… NYM if they wanted to get into it… those are really the only teams that make much sense right now.

  43. rotoenquire said

    The Dodgers have Pierre leading off with Furcal batting second. doesn’t make sence to me there. Arizona is going with a youth movement and should have youngster Chris B. young leading off with Byrnes batting second. Mets have Jose Reyes and need pitching. I do not see them giving it up when there desperate for it. As for the dreaded Yankees, again I do not see the M’s trading anything to the AL, if it can be helped. Also GM Cashman has Stienbrenner finally wanting to develope rookies escpecially pitching Phil Hughes as a prime example and adding Humberto Cota who should be the closer next year.

    You can get solid [players and border line All-Star talent but I do not see them getting anything more than that. Remember when they delt Griffey we got borderline talent not over the top talent. Same will happen here, it is a crap shoot when dealing with young talent like this anyways.

    Then again teams have been known to add talent in one place when they actually need it in another…..But it sure is fun to debate it….lol

  44. Goose said

    I’m not sure Cammy would be considered borderline talent.

  45. James is a No. 2 in the making?

    No, he’s really not. And the D Backs aren’t going with a youth movement, they are simply using the great young talent they have. They traded for TWO SPs 30+ over the winter, one is 40+… and they are currently looking for a veteran reliever.

    AZ makes a little sense… but they’d have to believe they were in the race for it to count enuff to give up some of their talent.

    And Ichiro hates Arizona.

  46. rotoenquire said

    Cameron borderline as an All-star great at defence one of the best. This was refering to needing an all-star in return for such a good bat in Ichiro…hence the relation to Griffey in what i said…

  47. jp17 said

    How about the Cubs being a possibility for Ichiro?

    The major thing holding them back would have to be money spent already, but they would have a place for him. Currently Soriano will play CF and leadoff. Neither is a good fit for his skills. They’d end up with a few too many in the OF, but they could possibly be dealt in return. I don’t know much about Felix Pie, but could he possibly be something that we should target in return? They also have a nice crop of upcoming pitchers in Hill, Marshall, and others. Plus there is the Lou connection, playing for a storied team that, with Ichiro’s presence, could make a run at the WS.

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