James has already done a great job breaking down the newest White Sox rumor regarding the trade talks re: Dayan Viciedo to Seattle. After mulling this over, I wanted to present the case for how and why it could work.
1. Seattle Loves Players Like This
Viciedo has lots of power, not a lot of patience, and has extremely limited defensive utility. The Mariners have been targeting players with some form of this profile pretty frequently in the last few offseasons. Think Mike Morse, Kendrys Morales, Raul Ibanez, Jesus Montero, Eric Thames, etc. It hasn’t helped very much as there are only so many 1B/DHs you can cram into a roster and shove into corner outfield spots before the whole thing breaks.
Corey Hart doesn’t quite fit into the same mold as the others above – he has a legit major league bat – but knee injuries mean he should probably be limited to 1B/DH duty. The Mariners intend to have him play lots of RF. Logan Morrison is supposed to be the primary DH, but he is also going to be asked to stretch his defensive abilities in the outfield quite a bit. Meanwhile, Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley are still being permitted to clog up more corner spots on the roster because they were highly regarded like 4 years ago.
So while I see nowhere on this roster where Dayan Viciedo fits, that does not mean that has stopped the Mariners in the past. These are the guys who gave Jason Bay a guaranteed roster spot in the year 2013. I’m skeptical of Viciedo’s ability to put it together, but it’s not impossible that he winds up tapping into his potential someday. If you’re a GM who doesn’t care about abysmal outfield defense, you could do worse than Viciedo. At least he isn’t 30 yet.
2. Michael Saunders May Be Available
Because the Mariners are too embarrassed to admit that Dustin Ackley just isn’t that good, they are going to make him their regular left fielder. His bat is not going to look good in left. Right field belongs to Corey Hart and his multiple knee surgeries, and evidently Logan Morrison is also going to be getting 4th outfielder duties. The newest rumor is that Abraham Almonte may be the one breaking camp with the CF job.
In a vacuum, if Almonte has a good glove, it looks like there’s a non-zero chance he can hit enough to be a decent/respectable CF in the majors. The problem is, if the Mariners are locked in with Hart and Ackley, that means Michael Saunders is being relegated to 4th or 5th outfielder status or worse. I’ve been a Saunders fan for some time, as he is an excellent athlete who can handle CF defensively – albeit in a below average capacity – and looks like he may be an above-average hitter. Saunders is arguably the best outfielder the Mariners have when you consider offense and defense.
If the Mariners want to get rid of Saunders and are interested in adding Viciedo, I’m totally on board.
Points 1 and 2 actually dovetail quite nicely with point number 3…
3. Jack Z Is Someone The White Sox Should Target As A Trade Partner
While Jack Z arrived in Seattle as the ballyhooed architect of the core of the resurgent Brewers (Ricky Weeks, Prince Fielder, etc.), the bloom is off the rose. Far more of his moves have failed than worked. Even with Michael Pineda missing two years due to shoulder injury, it is looking like the Yankees probably still won that trade. Dustin Ackley and Danny Hultzen are looking like disastrous picks, and organizations really can’t afford to botch Top 5 draft picks – ask the Pirates and Royals of the 1990s and early 2000s about that. The current Mariners regime is also responsible for trading Doug Fister to the Mariners for a pile of garbage, trading away Mike Morse for nothing, and then trading John Jaso to get him back. This can be added to the mistakes of misplaying his hand with Jarrod Washburn very badly in 2009, and acquiring Ian Snell‘s bad contract. Jack Z also somehow managed to lose a trade where he traded a bad player for a good one when he swapped Carlos Silva for Milton Bradley and then Silva turned around and was mildly productive while Milton Bradley went totally off the rails.
Other poorly thought out moves? Traded Brandon Morrow for Brandon League. Sold Mike Carp to the Red Sox. Traded Cliff Lee for Justin Smoak, and managed to infuriate a lot of front offices by backing out on a deal that he had agreed to with the Yankees. Gave Jack Wilson a $10 million guaranteed contract. Oh! And they gave Chone Figgins huge money in free agency.
Mr. Zduriencik acquired Josh Lueke, who is a rapist, and then tried to play dumb as if he did not know about it. I’m not sure which would be more damning – that amount of ignorance about a player, or if he did know and lied about it.
There have been increasing reports – including former front office employees blowing whistles to the media speaking of dysfunction and deceit amongst the ranks as Jack Z has alienated many of his most talented personnel members. This includes firing some excellent international scouts without any clear justification. As we have seen this year and last from Jesus Montero and Nick Franklin, the organization places no premium on offseason conditioning.
I could go on. The point is: Jack Z is a bad general manager. Trading with bad general managers is a great way to improve your franchise. The Cleveland Indians built the core to a playoff team by trading with Omar Minaya in Montreal and Bill Bavasi in Seattle. We can’t tell if it will work out, but the White Sox seem to be trying to exploit the unusual evaluations that are going on in Arizona to acquire Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson for some spare parts. Addison Reed and Hector Santiago are helpful, good spare parts – but if Matt Davidson and Adam Eaton are league average at 3B and CF respectively, the White Sox absolutely won that trade really hard. This is coming off of Arizona running Justin Upton out of town and throwing in a guy who nearly won a batting title to sweeten the pot in exchange for Martin Prado and a minor league reliever.
If the Mariners are interested in Dayan Viciedo, I am pleased. I would much rather they trade with Seattle than with Billy Beane or Saint Louis or Tampa Bay. Y’know, franchises that tend to win more trades than they lose.
4. The White Sox Have The Leverage
Granted, it’s no secret that the White Sox are looking to deal one of their left fielders – or at least, that they’re open to the idea. But, they don’t have to do it. They can afford to sit and wait. Maybe Viciedo was actually hampered by injury last year – it’s not completely crazy to think that he improves and hits something like .275/.320/.460, which would be a productive season. Or maybe he gets off to a hot start and the White Sox can flip him at the deadline.
Meanwhile, Robinson Cano has gone on the record saying that the Mariners need another bat. Cano is right. And whether or not it was a good idea for Seattle to make a win-now move with Cano, they have done so. It doesn’t make sense to go halfway and refuse to add around their star second baseman while he is still in his prime. There aren’t a ton of guys left on the market that have Vicideo’s power potential, and Seattle is still looking like the 4th best team in the AL West.
It is always better to be negotiating from a position of strength and patience rather than out of need and desperation.
I have not made any secret of the fact that I think Dayan Viciedo pretty much is what he is until proven otherwise, and that a player of his profile has a hard time sustaining success. That being said, it’s not impossible that there is still some development in him and that he could wind up being a net positive rather than neutral or negative. The White Sox can wait until they get the right offer for him, and if it never materializes oh well – people are interested in Alejandro de Aza too.
Meanwhile, as far as trading partners go, Seattle is an extremely desirable one.