Mariners trade rumors: Seattle could target a starter at deadline

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Even if Taijuan Walker and James Paxton can get healthy, general manager Jack Zduriencik could look to the trade market to galvanize his rotation.

The Mariners are just four-and-a-half games back in the AL West. Their rotation has been solid at the top, and their bullpen has been excellent. However, the back-end of their rotation is on general manager Jack Zduriencik's mind. The team is set to get Taijuan Walker back soon, and James Paxton should return before the All Star Break, but Jack Z could look to bolster the rotation.

Both pitchers are expected to be fixtures in the rotation long-term, but for the immediate playoff run, a veteran starter could help the M's in 2014 -- even if Walker and Paxton are able to contribute.

With Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, the Mariners have one of the best duos in the majors. Both have sub-3.00 ERAs and excellent peripherals. Rookie left hander Roenis Elias has been a pleasant surprise, posting a 3.64 ERA in over 80 innings.

Chris Young has been a great story so far this year, posting a 3.41 ERA in 68⅓ innings. But his fielding-independent pitching sits at 5.38 and his expected fielding-independent pitcher is 5.89. During his career, he's always been able to outperform those metrics on the field, but not by the margin he benefitting from this season. He's bound to regress, and when he does, one of the young pitchers on track to return could fill in, but that would still leave the team with a less-than ideal situation for the fifth spot in their rotation.

The Braves could be open to moving Aaron Harang or Gavin Floyd. The Cubs have Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija as possible trade chips, and several other options will become more apparent as contenders and rebuilders emerge closer to the trade deadline.

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