2012 Seattle Mariners Trade Candidates: Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens

Recent rumors show that Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens are both available in trade, if the Atlanta Braves can find the right package in return. So lets first look at what kind of benefit a team may gain from acquiring either Prado or Jurrjens.

Prado is a play-anywhere type of guy, who has played more than 800 innings at second and third base, as well as left field. He’s been a solid hitter, as his wRC+ is 107 for his career, and has exhibited power in the past despite playing at the cavernous Turner Field, and has predicated most that power on spraying line drives to all parts of the field. He’s under team control for two more seasons, and earned only $3.1 million this year. At MLBTR, he’s projected to earn $4.4 million next year in arbitration.

Jurrjens is a right handed starting pitcher who has been fantastic when healthy, but who has missed about 20 starts in the past two seasons, and who has lost 2.0 mph on his fastball since 2010. Jurjenns doesn’t have a huge propensity to throw groundballs, doesn’t strike a bunch of hitters out, and has struggled in his career against left-handed hitters.  He’s under team control for two more years, made $3.25 million last year, and MLBTR projects that he’ll make $5.1 million next year in arbitration.

Now how do these guys fit on the Mariners?

In manufacturing environments, there is a big movement to reduce manning; having less people doing more stuff costs companies a lot less money in terms of payroll. However, while payroll may be less of a concern on a baseball team than a traditional manufacturing environment, a major challenge is trying to fill as many roles as possible with only 25 players. That is why we see the Mariners toy with six, seven, and eight man bullpens. We see value in glove-first utility players, and value in bat-first utility players, depending on the composition of a roster.

Considering how left-handed the Mariners have become (and for good reason) Prado would figure to be able to provide a partial platoon partner for at least three defensive positions, and probably designated hitter and first base also. That’s not to sayt that Prado doesn’t deserve an everyday shot on the team, as his defense at third base is average to good, and he actually hits righties and lefties about evenly.

If that were the case, the team may not have much use for Kyle Seager at least immediately, or any other Mariners minor leaguer that plays third base only essentially, as almost every day Prado would figure to be a better option. So in Prado the team would need one less substitute, and if Chone Figgins remains on the roster, they’d have another guy who could play a ton of positions. This could mean that having a seven man bullpen doesn’t take any of the team’s utility away. As the team figures to pile up a bunch of hard-throwing, erratic relievers again this offseason, having an additional roster spot gives them another shot at finding the next David Aardsma, or perhaps allows them to carry Aardsma himself should he choose to return to Seattle.

Jurrjens, by contrast, doesn’t fit Seattle’s needs very well. Basically any righty that toes the rubber at Safeco better be able to strike batters out. For lefties, the park neutralizes a lot of opposite-handed power that may plague them in other venues, while their own handedness tends to neutralize the threat from the left side. For right-handed pitchers—especially ones that don’t throw a ton of ground balls—Safeco can play pretty neutral, and that hurts Jurrjens.

The statistic xFIP- uses the normalized xFIP, which attempts to neutralize park factors by projecting FIP were the player to pitch in a league average environment. So xFIP- judges a pitcher against the rest of the league, with 100 being league average, and the lower the better. Jurrjens career xFIP- has been 102, while his ERA- has been 83. That means that he’s benefitted greatly from pitching in Turner field, which allows less homeruns than the average ballpark. But Turner Field plays pretty close to even for both left-handed and right-handed batters.

Ultimately, Jurrjens probably has a lot of destinations where he’d be successful, but in Seattle he’d probably be a league average pitcher at best.

So if we assume that the Mariners wouldn’t be in on Jurrjens, what would it take to get Prado?

There is speculation that the Braves are looking for MLB ready corner outfield help, with Seth Smith’s name being mentioned specifically in this article. If there is one prospect pool that has improved since Jack Zduriencik took over, the corner outfield pool is it.

Depending on what kind of player the Braves are looking for, the Mariners may be able to trade, or package guys like Casper Wells, Trayvon Robinson, Johermyn Chavez, Michael Saunders, or Mike Carp for Prado, just to name a few.

Of that group, maybe Mike Carp is the best hitter, and the most MLB ready, while Robinson may have the most upside. It looks like the Mariners are going to have to give up something of significance if they want to add Prado, but they probably won’t have to give up one of their top prospects.

Overall, if the Mariners can get Prado for one of the guys I mentioned, I’d be thrilled to see Prado in Seattle. I don’t think Prado is worthy of getting rid of any of the team’s top pitching prospects (not to say they aren’t expendable).