Dave Cameron has a snap analysis of the deal that nets the Mariners Jack Wilson and Ian Snell and sends a utility infielder and four minor leaguers -- including three Class A pitchers -- to the Pirates. Money quote from Cameron:
- "They're all just decent pitching prospects instead of good ones, so the M's gave up quantity over quality, but the old cliche about building a rotation by getting a ton of arms and seeing who sticks is really true. The M's had done a good job of collecting an inventory of decent arms, and they just depleted that fairly heavily, while also giving up a LH power bat, for two guys with marginal value.
Pittsburgh is the easy winner of this deal, as they get some interesting young talent and shed some salary without losing much that will hurt them. The Mariners could still salvage this by moving Wilson before Friday's deadline for a younger SS with more long term potential, but if they stand pat with Wilson as the team's shortstop for 2009 and maybe 2010, color me disappointed."
Right now the Mariners' general manager, Jack Zduriencik, benefits from something of a halo effect, which he has earned by doing a lot of smart things since taking over. Thus, it's not easy to evaluate this deal with great objectivity. I will try, though.
As I wrote last week, Wilson is actually a pretty valuable player, due almost solely to his defense. This deal suggests that Zduriencik believes the Mariners have a legitimate shot at winning the American League West next season -- the last on Wilson's current contract. Otherwise the deal makes no sense at all.
Of course, it's also possible that, as Cameron suggests, Wilson is going to be flipped in another trade to one of the many contenders looking for a viable shortstop.
There's another thing, too. Yes, Snell makes a lot of money for a guy who's been exiled to the International League. But in terms of pure performance over the next few years -- which I mention because the club has options on him through 2012 -- doesn't Snell figure to be a lot more valuable than three pitchers who have yet to escape Class A? Who Cameron doesn't even class as "good" prospects?
Time will tell. But halo effect or no halo effect, I can't agree that the Pirates are the easy winners here.
Update: According to Dejan Kovacevic (sorry, no link yet), the Pirates are paying most of Wilson's and Snell's salaries for the rest of this season. This one's already looking better for the Mariners.