Brandon League Can Probably Put His Suitcases Back In His Closet

For the Mariners, this has been an offseason of potential addition. This has also been an offseason of potential subtraction, and an offseason of both potential addition and potential subtraction. In the event that the Mariners were to subtract, a player they might be likely to subtract is Brandon League. He's a closer on a mediocre team, he's a free agent in a year, he'll cost some millions of dollars, and so on. We've seen League's name floated in some rumors, and we've entertained the idea of the Mariners trading him for other talent.

But I think a League trade now looks less likely than ever. You've probably seen that Andrew Bailey has been traded. He's been traded from the A's, to the Red Sox. Two reasons this matters:

(1) Bailey wasn't traded for a whole lot
(2) The Red Sox are now out of the closer market

As far as point #1 is concerned, I can see how some might think that the A's got a fair deal, but I can't see how the A's might have gotten a good deal. Bailey has three years of cheap control left. He's really good. Josh Reddick's probably a backup or a fringe starter, like Ryan Sweeney. The prospects are interesting and miles away. If this is what Bailey brought, what would League bring? League has one year left. He's as good as Bailey, and he seems more durable, but, one year. A third of the years of control. That's significant.

As for point #2, there are only so many teams looking for closers, and the Red Sox are no longer among them. The teams left are, I dunno, the Reds and the Angels, and maybe the Dodgers, but that's a small group, and Ryan Madson and Francisco Cordero are still free agents. So's Brad Lidge. There's supply and limited demand, which works against the Mariners' favor.

I don't think that a Brandon League trade is in the cards. Not anytime soon, and certainly not while the Mariners are still trying to convince Prince Fielder that Northwest summers really are the best summers. Given the new compensation rules, it's possible that we could see some rumors closer to spring training, but if League gets moved, I think he'll get moved in June or July. Moving him now just doesn't seem worth it, and while some suitor could always offer a huge haul, I wouldn't count on that happening.

We've talked about the potential reliever pile the Mariners have worked to build up so far in the offseason. With League probably sticking around, expect the competition to be fierce come March, because the bullpen already looks most of the way full.

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