Mariners deal no more than Rhodes
Minor League arm arrives; Washburn, Ibanez stay in Seattle
ARLINGTON -- A mid-morning trade that sent their oldest -- and one of their most reliable -- relievers across the country was the extent of the Mariners' non-waiver Trade Deadline activity on Thursday.On a one-and-done day, Seattle acquired 22-year-old right-handed Minor League pitcher Gaby Hernandez from the Marlins for 38-year-old left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes.
There had been numerous reports that indicated Seattle would be one of the most active Major League organizations prior to the 1 p.m. PT Trade Deadline. Left-handed starter Jarrod Washburn, third baseman Adrian Beltre and left fielder Raul Ibanez were mentioned in various trade scenarios.But when the Deadline expired, all three were still with the Mariners. The Mariners reportedly had a deal in the works with the Blue Jays involving Ibanez, but it fell through, apparently rejected by the Mariners, although Seattle general manager Lee Pelekoudas would not confirm it. "We came close to a couple of deals and weren't able to get it done," he said. Washburn, who will start Friday night's series opener against the Orioles at Safeco Field, said, "I was skeptical something would happen. I know how it works and the difficulty involved in [making a trade]. I talked to Lee a little off and on, and he always told me that something might happen, but nothing was imminent." The rumor mill had been churning wildly, mostly with him going to the Yankees. "It was pretty intense four or five days ago," Washburn said. "[The media] were asking me about all the rumors, saying [a trade] is almost done, and I had people calling me saying it's a done deal. So, for a few days there, it was a little crazy." Hernandez, acquired by the Marlins from the Mets in 2005 as part of the Paul LoDuca trade, started this season with Triple-A Albuquerque and went 2-8 in 13 starts before being sent to Double-A Carolina, where he was 3-0 with a 4.30 ERA in four starts. During Spring Training, he was briefly in the mix to be the Marlins' No. 5 starter and pitched well during camp, but eventually was sent down. "Our scouts saw a pitcher that is only 22 years old and mature for his age," Pelekoudas said. Hernandez will join the Mariners' Double-A West Tennessee team. Rhodes gives the Marlins a veteran left-handed reliever with playoff experience, while the Mariners receive a potential rotation candidate down the road. Seattle's starting depth in the Minor Leagues was so sparse that left-handed swing man Ryan Rowland-Smith was sent to Triple-A Tacoma to become a starter, and hard-throwing right-hander Brandon Morrow could be taking that same path at some point in the next couple of weeks. Rhodes should bring the Marlins immediate help. Barely one year after undergoing Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, he compiled a 2-1 record and 2.86 ERA in 36 relief appearances for the Mariners. He had an 18-appearance scoreless streak end in Wednesday night's game against the Rangers. Rhodes wasn't immediately available for comment, but Mariners bullpen coach Norm Charlton said he talked to the departing lefty at the team's hotel headquarters. "He's happy be able to go to a team that has a chance to go to the playoffs," Charlton said. "That's why we play the game, and that's why he came back here this year. He felt like we had a chance to win [the AL West championship]. It hasn't worked out that way, but now he's going to a team that's in a pennant race with a chance to make a difference." While the Mariners are buried in the AL West basement, the Marlins are 1 1/2 games behind the Mets in the National League East. The Rhodes-Hernandez swap is the first for Pelekoudas, who replaced dismissed GM Bill Bavasi on June 16. But Pelekoudas has been active, replacing former manager John McLaren with Jim Riggleman and releasing first baseman Richie Sexson. "We came down here with expectations to get something done," Pelekoudas said. "We moved Arthur Rhodes for a young starting pitcher with promise, someone who could help us next year, and we are happy to accomplish that. "We investigated a lot of other possibilities but were not able to reach agreement with any other clubs on a trade. We're fine with that. We will walk away from here not disappointed and move on. We took the first step in making the organization better." Pelekoudas, who has been with the Mariners on the club's current two-city, six-game road trip to Toronto and Texas, told reporters on Tuesday night that the Trade Deadline was "artificial" and deals still could be made down the road as the organization prepares for the 2009 season and beyond. "You can still make moves after Aug. 1, with certain restrictions, but we also have the offseason," he said. "There is a lot of time to make moves. We are not in any time crunch. There is no deadline to get this club turned around in the next two days, the next week or the next two or three weeks. We have time to do this, and we plan to do it systematically, step by step." Riggleman applauded Pelekoudas for not being pressured into making a trade just for the sake of making a trade. "I sat in on a lot of meetings and saw the names that were being offered, and I'm glad we didn't move any of our guys," Riggleman said. "I think we put a higher value on our players than to just say, 'Let's trade them.' Other teams were thinking they were doing us a favor by taking away salary. That wasn't the case at all." The Mariners played the series finale against the Rangers with a 24-man roster. They will fill Rhodes' spot on the roster prior to Friday night's game against the Orioles, probably with either left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith or right-hander Jared Wells.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.