Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reports that the Seattle Mariners have shown interest in Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones (via MLBTR). Baker says that the Mariners and Pirates have had talks in the weeks leading up to these meetings about Jones. He adds the disclaimer that Seattle is talking with many different teams, but that actual names were involved in the talks.
One proposal Baker mentions involved Jones and Joel Hanrahan in exchange for first baseman Justin Smoak, catcher John Jaso, and starting pitcher Hector Noesi. Some of that deal would make sense for the Pirates, but some of it wouldn’t. Getting Smoak could give the Pirates a replacement for Jones, and a chance at a reclamation project with some upside. Smoak is pretty much where Pedro Alvarez was heading into the 2012 season, only Smoak carried his struggles through the 2012 season. He’s still got time to turn things around, and still has a lot of upside.
Jaso wouldn’t make much sense with Russell Martin under control for two years. The Pirates have Michael McKenry as their backup catcher. They’ve got Tony Sanchez in Triple-A, and wouldn’t need him until 2014-2015, depending on how long Martin is around. Jaso is coming off a big year at the plate as a backup, with a .276/.394/.456 line in 294 at-bats. He might be a better backup option than McKenry, who does have options remaining and could go to Triple-A for depth.
Noesi turns 26 in January, and is coming off a year where he posted a 5.82 ERA in 106.2 innings, with a 68:39 K/BB ratio. Baker describes him as a back-end rotation starter. I can’t see him making the Pirates’ rotation. A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, and James McDonald have spots locked down. After that, Noesi would be competing with Kyle McPherson, Jeff Locke, Vin Mazzaro, and Zach Stewart, and Noesi doesn’t stand out above those guys.
If the Pirates could get Smoak in a deal with Seattle, that could potentially be huge. The other two pieces in this rumor don’t make much sense. Jaso doesn’t provide a ton of value replacing McKenry as Martin’s backup. He would also cost more, as he’s arbitration eligible. Noesi would just add depth, rather than filling a need in the rotation. Even with Smoak, who has lost value with his struggles the last few years, that’s not the type of return you’d want to see for Jones AND Hanrahan.
I think the most important thing here is that the two teams are talking about these players, and to the point where names are being tossed around. Baker does note that it’s possible the Pirates abandoned the talks after signing Martin. He also comes to a similar summary that the key point is Jones is being looked at by Seattle.
If the Pirates did trade Jones and Hanrahan, they’d cut over $11 M in projected salary, taking them down to around $52.5 M, plus whatever salaries were coming back. That would give them room to add additional free agents.