The 2014 edition of the MLB non-waiver trade deadline was one of the craziest in recent memory. It saw the A’s trade LF Yoenis Cespedes for SP John Lackey and LF/RF Johnny Gomes; the Tigers, Mariners, and Rays combined in a three-team trade that the M’s probably won; the Boston Red Sox traded away the rest of its starting rotation; and much more. Despite all of the action, there was one person who won the day…and that one person was embattled Mariners’ general manager Jack Zduriencik.
Seattle acquired OF Chris Denorfia from the San Diego Padres and CF Austin Jackson from the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. Both Jackson and Denorfia should provide an immediate upgrade to the M’s outfield; both players are under contract through 2015 and cost very little from the Mariners. In other words, Zduriencik managed to upgrade the current roster without mortgaging the organization’s future for a wild card spot.
The fact that the roster was upgraded relatively cheap is more impressive when you realize that Zdurincik is on a one year contact, and more than likely needs the team to finish with a better than .500 record (and in the hunt for the second wild card spot) to save his job.
Zduriencik entered the 2014 season with a roster that was filled with question marks, struggling prospects, a couple of superstars, and MLB squad that hadn’t won more than 80 games since 2009. His job was definitely on the line heading into the season. As a result, everyone Zduriencik would make a “win now, screw the future” type of trade.
He didn’t make that type of move in the months leading up to the season.
He did’t make that move during the first half of the season while the M’s were in the second wild card spot.
He didn’t make that type of move as the team struggled during the first 12 games after the All Star break — the M’s sported a 4-8 record in those 12 games.
What Zduriecik did do was continue to work the trade market until he found deals that benefited the Mariners, but didn’t gut the franchise’s farm system. As a result, the team should (barring catastrophic injuries and/or player under performance) contend for the second wild card spot in 2014; and with Jackson and Denorfia under contract until 2015…the M’s could very well end up making a push for the AL West crown in 2015.
The early performance of the 2014 Mariners made another extension for Zduriencik likely. His trades at the deadline all but guaranteed it; and Mariners fans should be perfectly okay with that.After all, he built the roster that is contending in ’14.
Now it’s time to see if he can build a roster that can not only make the playoffs, but make a deep run.