August 1, 2009 in Sports

M’s deal Washburn

Tigers give up two young left-handed pitchers
Kirby Arnold Everett Herald
 
Associated Press photo

Jarrod Washburn should start for the Tigers against the Mariners later this month.
(Full-size photo)

SEATTLE – Knowing they weren’t guaranteed to have Jarrod Washburn beyond the last two months of this season, the Seattle Mariners traded him Friday in exchange for several years of pitching potential.

Less than five hours before baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline, the Mariners traded Washburn to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for two left-handers – 23-year-old Jake French and 20-year-old prospect Mauricio Robles.

French probably will start Wednesday at Kansas City, joining a rotation that has undergone a near-complete transformation in a week.

Staff ace Felix Hernandez is the only one who remains, and even he was the subject of inquiries by other teams that Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik shooed away.

“To move Felix Hernandez would have to be something enormous,” Zduriencik said, without confirming if he had received an actual offer.

French pitched July 23 in Detroit against the Mariners, holding them to two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. His opponent? Washburn, who held the Tigers to one run in a 2-1 victory.

“He had a good start against us,” Zduriencik said. “We look at this as a chance to have a player under our control the next six years. He’s 6-4 and a left-hander who has some major league experience.”

Robles, while still pitching at the Class A level, was one of top prospects in the Tigers’ minor league system, and he also pitched for Venezuela last winter in the World Baseball Classic. Zduriencik said Robles would be assigned to the Mariners’ High Desert team in the Class A California League

After Hernandez, who will start today at Texas, the Mariners’ rotation will be comprised of Ian Snell, acquired Wednesday from the Pirates along with shortstop Jack Wilson; Ryan Rowland-Smith, recalled July 24 from Triple-A Tacoma; French; and Jason Vargas, called up this week from Tacoma. Erik Bedard (shoulder inflammation) is eligible to come off the disabled list Aug. 10, although his scheduled bullpen session has been pushed back twice, this time to Tuesday in Kansas City.

Despite moving Washburn for young pitchers, Zduriencik still wouldn’t say the Mariners had abandoned their hope to win the American League West.

“We are on the outside looking in at the pennant race and certainly have a way to go to get back in this thing,” Zduriencik said.

Washburn is a free agent after this season and, in a market that will be thin on starters, he could command a contract the Mariners may not be willing to match in years or pay. Washburn said he and Zduriencik had discussed the possibility of returning next year, although there were no formal negotiations.

“I will probably go into the offseason, weigh all my options and if Seattle is interested in bringing me back, they will be near the top of my list of places I would like to play,” Washburn said.

Washburn said he’s eager to join a Tigers team that led the A.L. Central but sad to leave a team he enjoyed this season – especially manager Don Wakamatsu and pitching coach Rick Adair.

Adair essentially helped extend Washburn’s career, working with him to add a sinker and slow curve that have been the keys to his best season since he signed a four-year, $37.5 million contract in 2006.

Washburn said last month that he had considered retiring after this season until his newfound success changed his mind.

French pitched last Thursday in Detroit against the Mariners, holding them to two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. His opponent? Washburn, who held the Tigers to one run in a 2-1 victory.

“He had a good start against us,” Zduriencik said. “We look at this as a chance to have a player under our control the next six years. He’s 6-4 and a left-hander who has some major league experience.”

Robles, while still pitching at the Class A level, was one of top prospects in the Tigers’ minor league system, and he also pitched for Venezuela last winter in the World Baseball Classic. Zduriencik said Robles would be assigned to the Mariners’ High Desert team in the Class A California League


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