Lately there's been talk that themight be gearing up to swing a big trade. That's just a guess on my part, by the way, and I don't have any inside information, but it's a safe and accurate guess because there's always talk about the Mariners and big trades. "There's been talk" means that at least one person has been talking. Have you ever read Twitter or a message board? "There's been talk" casts a very wide net and so it means very little.
One might think that the Mariners might try to do something big, though. The trade deadline's approaching, the team could arguably use a shake-up, and hell, they were rumored to have tried for Justin Upton before. Will the Mariners make an aggressive play? According to a guess I'm making, maybe. According to this Ken Rosenthal post, highly doubtful. Because:
While one Mariners official says the team is "wide open" on potential deals, rival clubs report that the M's have made a long list of players untouchable in trades.
The list includes right-hander Felix Hernandez, second baseman Dustin Ackley and third baseman Kyle Seager, plus the Mariners' four top prospects, according to Baseball America - right-hander Taijuan Walker, left-handers Danny Hultzen and James Paxton and shortstop Nick Franklin.
The usual response to published Mariners rumors is that they have to be bullshit, because the Mariners famously don't leak anything. If a balloon doesn't spring a leak, all the gas remains inside. The Mariners don't really leak anything, but that doesn't mean that other teams are the same way, and the Mariners talk to other teams. They get involved in negotiations, and loose lips might partially explain how the Mariners are thinking.
So I don't think this is something we should just dismiss. And now we get to that weird word of "untouchable". Players are frequently described as being untouchable, but what I don't know is whether that's something the teams are saying, or whether that's media interpretation of a stance. Last year, it was said that Jeff Baker was untouchable, and if you don't know who Jeff Baker is, precisely. If rival executives are saying the Mariners have made those players untouchable, does that mean they absolutely will not be traded, or does it mean they'd be hard to trade for?
I probably don't need to explain where I stand on this, because my stance isn't unique, but as long as I'm here - I don't think any player should ever be untouchable, or off-limits, or however you want to say it. Even Felix, from a rational standpoint, although with Felix I don't have a rational standpoint. Why ever close yourself off to possibilities? It makes so little sense that I can't imagine a team actually acting this way. I can't imagine that, if another team called the Mariners asking about Kyle Seager, the Mariners would just hang up and get back to whatever they were doing. He's Kyle Seager.
And even with an inarguable superstar, what makes a superstar unmovable? You never know what other teams might offer, basically. You never know unless you open yourself up to the offers.
A big deal has been made about the Mariners' impressive crop of top pitching prospects, and there aren't many teams with groups of young arms that compare. We've been told that the Mariners intend to build around those guys, and some other guys, in the very near future, as none of Hultzen, Paxton, or Walker are all that far away. But would you want those pitchers to be untouchable? As talented as they are, they're young pitchers in the minor leagues. I'd much rather have a trio of impressive young position-player prospects. On principle, I wouldn't be opposed to dealing any of or all three of the pitchers, because young pitchers are like ambitious home-cooked dinner plans. Even if you follow the recipe closely, the meal only seldom turns out the way you want it to.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mariners have made seven players untouchable in trades. Curiously not among them are Jesus Montero and Justin Smoak. I've never understood or believed in the notion of untouchability, but here we are, and you're free to make whatever you want of this morning's report. To a point, of course. This morning's report didn't say "Jason Vargas, two others charged with murder." Don't make that of it.