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Two Months In: Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners never seemed a likely team to contend this season. They were coming off a 61-win season last year that was not even a success from a losing standpoint, as they blew a chance at the first overall draft pick in the final two games of the season. New M Jack Zduriencik spent the winter overhauling the team’s inept defense and bringing in as many low cost relievers and veteran hitters as he could find.

For a while, it worked. Racing out to a 15-10 start, the Mariners at one point stood atop the AL West by 3.5 games and had a PECOTA-predicted chance of postseason play over 40%, at the time, the highest in the AL West. Since that peak though, the Mariners’ bats have gone silent and the bullpen fell apart en route to a 6-16 stretch that left them seven games back of the Texas Rangers. Their latest two wins against Baltimore have the Mariners’ playoff odds back up to around 15%, but still it seems likely that they’ll be sellers before July is up.

Lucky for them, they have a lot to sell. In the rotation, Erik Bedard is the big candidate, but Jarrod Washburn and his 3.22 ERA (backed up by an improved 3.59 FIP) should also tempt a pitching-starved team. In the bullpen, David Aardsma‘s eight saves and 2.13 ERA will also likely find a buyer. As far as the bats go, Endy Chavez can hold down center field and that coupled with his .283 batting average might have him heading out of town. Adrian Beltre is the obvious trade candidate, and he seems to be breaking out of his early season slump.

Another possible bat that could be dealt is Russell Branyan who, given his first chance to play regularly, has responded magnificently and would certainly garner some interest. The question then would be if Branyan and Zdurencik would have some loyalty to each other enough that Branyan sticks around in Seattle.

Either way, with a host of actual talent up for graps form July should they fall far enough back, plus picks 2, 27, 33 and 51 in the upcoming June draft, the Mariner farm system is about to get one giant boost upwards.