If you have paid attention to Mariners baseball this season then it is probably painfully obvious that the team desperately needs offensive help. The biggest pain points on the team currently exist at Left Field, Designated Hitter and Third Base. It will be interesting to see what the front office does to fill all of these holes, but third base is likely going to be the spot where the front office will have to be a little more creative.
The reason why third is more of a trouble area is the lack of available players. Third base prospects are either, highly regarded and too valuable to their teams or not close to major league ready. The 2012 free agent class is highlighted by the likes of Aramis Ramirez and Wilson Betemit. Ramirez is a RH pull hitter that would likely suffer a drastic power decrease in Safeco field, and Betemit is a switch hitter that lacks a solid glove and a holds a league average bat. The Mariners Minor League system does have a little promise in Kyle Seager and Alex Liddi, but neither would likely add much punch at this point to a weak overall lineup.
My answer to 3B
The Mariners have a legitimate chance to compete in 2012 if they find a couple bats that can stick in the middle of the lineup. Rafael Furcal could be one of those bats, and come very inexpensively.
- Injury History
- Never played 3rd base prior to this
- Could elect not to sign an extension
- Has the athletic ability to play the position defensively
- Has the bat & speed that could fit very well in Safeco field.
Rafael Furcal is a league average defensive shortstop with a live arm. His first reaction is quick, he is fast to the ball, and he sets himself well to throw. All of these attributes translate well to a good defensive 3rd Baseman. His recent injuries have also brought his value down, but his bat should still be effective. As a switch hitter with a little pop he should fit well into Safeco field, and could be a great addition near the top of the lineup.
Why trade for him now instead of waiting for him to become a free agent?
Two main reasons:
1- Since Furcal doesn’t have Scott Boras as his agent, the Mariners should have the ability to negotiate an extension for the 2012 season.
2- It will allow you to see how he transitions to 3rd base at the ML level for the rest of this season.
It is hard for anyone to deny that Rafael Furcal’s bat would be a welcome addition to Seattle’s lineup. He has all of the athletic talent necessary to play third base, where we need a solid bat. We would have a very hard time finding someone comparable that is available via trade or free agency. Right now his value is about as low as it can be, and if we allow him to be traded to another team it is possible that he could sign an extension before hitting free agency. Would a couple million dollars and a low-level prospect be worth the exclusive rights to a very talented player and the opportunity to see if he could fit in a position of need for the Mariners? It seems like a low risk with a very possible high reward to me.