Mike Carp Rumors
The Mariners have announced first baseman/designated hitter Mike Carp has been designated for assignment. The move was made to clear a 40-man roster spot for Joe Saunders, whose one-year deal was made official in a team press release.
“I won’t get to play for Seattle again and that’s a shame,” Carp told Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times. “I loved it up there in the Northwest. I consider myself fortunate to have played there. Not too many guys can say they have four years in at the big league level already starting at age 22. I still feel I have a lot to offer. I’m just getting started.”
Carp, 26, has played in parts of the past four seasons with Seattle with the majority of his at-bats coming in 2011. The former Mets draft pick has posted a .255/.327/.413 batting line over the course of his career. The Mariners have 10 days to trade Carp, release him, or outright him to the minors.
Seattle's lineup has struggled through April, managing just a .241/.314/.349 team line entering Monday's game with Kansas City and hitting an AL-low nine home runs. While Chone Figgins and Jose Lopez have gotten off to slow starts, the designated hitter spot has been a particular trouble spot. There has been little production from the veteran platoon of Ken Griffey Jr. (.519 OPS) and Mike Sweeney (.349 OPS).
Larry LaRue of The Tacoma News Tribune points out, however, that while the Mariners could release Sweeney (due to make just $650K in 2010) or bench Griffey (releasing a franchise icon like the Kid is probably not an option for the M's), there aren't any obvious options to fill their shoes in the lineup. Milton Bradley could see some time at DH since his injury history makes him an unlikely candidate to spend a full year playing in the field, but as LaRue notes, moving Bradley then just leaves a hole in Seattle's outfield.
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik is certainly not adverse to making big moves to help his club, but LaRue thinks it will be until at least June before the M's can "find a team willing to admit it's given up on 2010" and talk trade. The June deadline seems like a bit of a stretch given that teams will always be looking to shed a big bat with a big contract if the offer is right, though LaRue doesn't think Seattle has the pitching prospects to net such a player.
One name that LaRue doesn't mention is Michael Saunders. The outfielder hit just .221/.258/.279 in 129 major league plate appearances last season, but he posted a .922 OPS in 282 plate appearances at Triple-A Tacoma in 2009. Saunders was sent to the minors during spring training since the Mariners wanted him to play every day, and has just a .385 OPS thus far for Tacoma. Should Saunders turn things around at the plate and earn a call-up, though, his good glove should provide defensive value in left field in Seattle and provide cover to move Bradley to DH.
Another minor league option is first baseman Mike Carp. LaRue dismissed him due to his low average at Tacoma thus far, but Carp is still slugging .484 for the Rainiers and has put up good on-base and power numbers in his last two minor league campaigns (not to mention a .878 OPS in a 65 PA cup of coffee with Seattle last year).
And, of course, Griffey and Sweeney could still turn things around given that there's a lot of baseball left to be played this season. While the DH spot may be a problem for the M's in the short-term, things haven't quite reached Jose Vidro-esque critical mass.
THURSDAY, 12:56am: Rosenthal raises the question of whether the Mets will exercise Putz's 2010 option for $9.1MM now that he's a setup man. I think if he's worth that amount pitching the ninth he's worth it pitching the eighth.
10:17pm: MLB.com's Jim Street confirmed the deal. The Mariners give up Putz, Green, and Reed and get Heilman, Chavez, Carp, and Gutierrez. The Indians give up Gutierrez and get Valbuena and Smith. The Mets give up Heilman, Chavez, Carp, and Smith to get Putz, Green, and Reed.
The Mets succeeded in overhauling their bullpen without giving up premium pieces. Assuming Putz and K-Rod are healthy, they'll be playing seven-inning games.
The Mariners can try Heilman the rotation, and add good outfield depth. I'm kind of lukewarm on the Indians' benefit.
10:02pm: Geoff Baker says a previous incarnation with the Rays instead of the Mets fell apart. In that deal, the Tigers would've included Jeff Larish.
9:27pm: Rosenthal has an update:
Under terms of the deal, the Mets would get Putz, outfielder Jeremy Reed and reliever Sean Green. The Mariners would receive reliever Aaron Heilman, outfielder Endy Chavez and first baseman Mike Carp from the Mets. They'd also get Franklin Gutierrez from the Indians and minor leaguers. The Indians would get reliever Joe Smith from the Mets and infielder Luis Valbuena from Seattle.
David Lennon seems to agree.
9:06pm: Jon Heyman says the Mets would surrender six players in this blockbuster.
8:40pm: MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince says the three teams "appear to be on the verge" of a deal. He says that if the deal goes through the Mariners would get Gutierrez and the Indians would get Joe Smith and Mariners prospect Luis Valbuena. Heilman and Jeremy Reed would also be involved in some capacity. Graziano suggests not all of the players in the trade have been decided upon. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik admitted a proposal is on the table.
8:06pm: Rosenthal softened the language of his post - he now says the Mets are trying/working to acquire Putz rather than close to a deal. He also mentions that the deal would involve one or more prospects.
8:00pm: According to Ken Rosenthal, the Mets are close to acquiring Mariners reliever J.J. Putz in a three-team trade. Putz and K-Rod will be quite a late inning tandem. The Indians are also involved in the trade. Other players in the mix: Aaron Heilman, Endy Chavez, Mike Carp, and Franklin Gutierrez. Rosenthal is not sure yet who's heading where.
Dan Graziano has the story as well, but does not mention the Indians.