In the past two weeks, Mariners general manager Jeff Zduriencek has pulled off three trades. But that doesn't mean that he's been wheeling and dealing as the Mariners fight for a wild card spot in the American League West, which is shaping up to be the best division in baseball this year and might just produce three playoff teams.
The Mariners, ultimately, brought in Kendrys Morales, Chris Denorfia and Austin Jackson. They traded away three minor leaguers and a reliever in the process.
Not exactly setting the world on fire as the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics caught the baseball world's attention with their recent acquisitions to bolster already good pitching staffs.
That's the reason so many have been complaining about Zduriencek.
Why not make a move?
The Mariners haven't made the playoffs since 2001 and they're on the cusp. The Orioles have made it just one time during that stretch and their chances are looking good too.
But, while other teams go all in this season, the Mariners held firm on keeping prospect pitchers Taijuan Walker and James Paxton.
With Zduriencek's contract up after the season, it's surprising to many that he was so unwilling to take a big shot to win it now. Maybe he simply understands they can't out buy the Tigers and Athletics this year, which is odd to say with Oakland's long history of a small payroll.
With the Mariners starting to slide in the standings, winning just four of their last 10, there was a sense that Seattle would make a big move to reverse course.
FoxSports.com piece ruffles feathers
A report this week from FoxSports.com certainly got those in Seattle's attention. The report, written by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi, anonymously quoted multiple rival executives saying that Zduriencek would get deep into negotiations and close to a trade he had inquired about before disappearing and pulling away.
The report even blamed the Seattle GM for a stalled trade market for David Price, Alex Rios and Marlon Byrd. The irony is that Seattle is the team that ultimately allowed the Price deal to happen with its inclusion as a third team, taking Jackson from the Tigers while sending Nick Franklin to Tampa Bay.
“They (the Mariners) don’t set out on a trade saying, ‘Here’s what we need,” one of those executives told FoxSports.com. “Let’s do what we can to get him.’ They think, ‘Who can we give up that will never be any good?’ They don’t want to give up anyone who will haunt them. That’s just flat-out fear.”
To his credit, Zduriencek responded to the criticisms both immediately to FoxSports.com and then Thursday, after the trades.
“If any trade or discussion does not get consummated, it is simply that we did not agree on the exchange,” Zduriencek sent FoxSports.com in an email. “As a general manager, I have had my share of deals turned down, and I have turned down deals as well. It simply works both ways.”
The Mariners' team president also told FoxSports.com that the team is doing what it can to win now.
“I get tired of reading that our player payroll is $89 million or $90 million,” Mariners president Ken Mather told the site. “We’re well over $100 million, and we just added Morales. We feel good about where we are, and we do have some flexibility.”
After the trades were consumed on Thursday, Zduriencek had a similar message.
“I always felt common sense would prevail,” he told MLB.com. “To do a deal because you feel pressure is a bad deal. To do a deal because it makes sense is what you set out to do. There were people out there that thought the Mariners were prime targets, they're in a pennant race for the first time in 10 years, they're going to give up the farm. There was a little bit written about that.
"We were not going to do it and it probably didn't make a lot of people happy. But I don't care. If a few guys get ruffled in the feathers, that's their fault. This is our property, these are our players, this is our organization and that's our focus. If we can help each other, I'm all in. But we're not sitting here donating players to make somebody else better. Forget about it."