With things being what they are, we know thewill have trouble luring free-agent hitters. One reason is that the Mariners aren't good, and they haven't been good for a long time. Players like to play for good teams more than bad teams because good teams make them feel good. Another reason is that the Mariners play in a famously pitcher-friendly ballpark. Over its history, Safeco has been the second- or third-most extreme pitcher's park in baseball, and everybody knows it. Nobody likes hitting in Safeco, and even if the organization were to make changes to the ballpark, which is by no means guaranteed, it would be years before the reputation could catch up. These are the two big factors working against the Mariners as a spender.
So the Mariners are left with a few options. They can go after lower-tier free-agent hitters, hitters who might not be highly sought after. They can swing trades for hitters, since most trades don't need the players' permission. Or they can look at players already coming from an extreme environment. Via Bill Center, we've got two out of three right here!
Among the teams pushing hardest for Headley are the(Headley has a .333 batting average at PNC Park in Pittsburgh) and the . But the list of candidates ranges from the and from the National League West to the rebuilding Seattle Mariners.
We can presume that the Mariners have at least checked in on Chase Headley's availability. Again, while the Mariners don't leak this sort of information, other teams do, and the Mariners don't act in a universe all by themselves. Although sometimes it feels like they do.
What does it mean? Probably nothing, because plenty of teams have checked in on Headley, because he's a desirable piece, and he might not even get moved. Theare asking a fortune for Headley and a fortune is something the Mariners might not be prepared to spend. But the purpose of this post is really to just call more attention to Headley's unbelievable career splits. They are unbelievable! I tried to believe them, but I could not.
Home: .235/.324/.341 (1217 plate appearances)
Road: .299/.366/.449 (1310 plate appearances)
Headley's a 28-year-old third baseman who's belonged to the Padres all along. He's a switch-hitter who's always called home Petco Park, and while most players are better at home than they are on the road, Headley's OPS split is 151 points in the other direction. Some of that would probably regress, but we're dealing with an isolated slugging percentage that's 42 percent better away. Headley has just been slaughtered by his own stadium, in the way that Mike Cameron was slaughtered by Safeco. A park like Petco hurts all hitters, but it's hurt Headley to an unusual degree, masking his value.
Other teams who are in on Headley see a cost-controlled third baseman at his peak with fine defense and a bat that could play very well in another environment. Petco has been a bear trap gripping Headley by the ankle. The Mariners see the cost control and the youth and the defense, and they probably figure that Headley wouldn't be killed by Safeco because he's already been playing somewhere worse. The Mariners can never know how a new player might adjust to the stadium, but Headley would be coming from the one place that can make Safeco feel inviting.
The message to take away from this is not that the Mariners are in high pursuit of Chase Headley. They probably are not among the most intense suitors, and they probably are not going to trade for him. The message is more that the Mariners are probably considering all their options, which, of course they are, because they can't afford to limit themselves. So what if it feels like the Mariners could be set with Dustin Ackley at second and Kyle Seager at third? Neither looks anything like a franchise player at the moment, and neither is so fantastic that some kind of move would be out of the question. One of the advantages of not being very good is that you have plenty of flexibility when it comes to trying to get better. The Mariners will try to get better however they can.
I don't know what the Mariners are going to do before the trade deadline. Maybe nothing at all. Maybe something or somethings underwhelming. Maybe something huge and kind of out of left field. There were previous reports that most of the Mariners' desirable young pieces were untouchable, but you know how I feel about the word "untouchable". Or maybe you don't. But now you feel like you should. Look how I just made you feel bad and out of the loop.