On Thursday, ESPN.com contributor Jim Bowden threw out an interesting "darkhorse" trade candidate for the Texas Rangers. He was asked, on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Fitzsimmons and Durrett show about possible starting pitchers who could be available come July 31. And he gave a surprising possibility: Hisashi Iwakuma. Bowden admits it's a deep sleeper, but threw it out there anyway.
I'll be honest: I can't see the Seattle Mariners parting with Iwakuma. But what if the Rangers blew them away with a prospect package? Could they make them at least think about it?
First, let's look at Iwakuma's contract. He is making $6.5 million this year, $6.5 million next year and the contract includes a club option for $7.5 million in 2015 (there's also a $1 million buyout on that option). Iwakuma could make $1.1 million in incentives during the life of the contract.
So the fact that Iwakuma is under team control for potentially 2 1/2 seasons would certainly intrigue the Rangers. But it also adds to what it will cost to get him. He's 32 years old and is 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 11 starts. He has 69 strikeouts to 11 walks and a 0.84 WHIP. He's third in the AL in ERA, first in WHIP and tied for sixth in innings pitched. He's pitched like an All-Star and top-flight pitcher so far.
Imagine how he would look at the top of the rotation with Yu Darvish. No, this isn't the top of deal that includes Jurickson Profar. That won't happen. But the Mariners would have to get some young pitching in return, along with some bats that could produce for them in the future, I would think. What might that include?
It wouldn't shock me if they insisted on something at the big league level now. Perhaps Justin Grimm, for instance? If Mike Olt returns to Double-A Frisco and starts hitting to increase his value, he could be an option as well. What about Joey Gallo or Lewis Brinson? Seattle needs bats and both of those young players have high ceilings. Gallo's season average has dipped to .211, but he's shown good power with 13 homers and 27 RBIs for Class A Hickory. Brinson, a center fielder, is also in Hickory and hitting .235 with 10 homers and 21 RBIs. He's got seven stolen bases, but has also struck out 84 times in 196 at-bats.
Is Alexi Ogando in this discussion? I'd include him if that's what it took. There are others, I'm sure, that could factor in.
Sure, it's a real long shot. But since Bowden brought it up, why not talk about it? What kind of package would you put together for Iwakuma? Remember, you've got to entice the Mariners to move a pitcher who has a favorable contract, so it's got to be a really good package that helps them now and in the future.