Mariners deal Washburn for two pitchers
Young left-handers French, Robles acquired from Tigers
ARLINGTON -- One of the busiest trading sprees in Mariners history ended about five hours before the non-waiver Trade Deadline on Friday afternoon, and when it was time for roll call, manager Don Wakamatsu had, among other things, a revamped rotation.
"The challenge is to add without subtracting too much, and I feel we've done that," Wakamatsu said. "We're getting re-organized here and there will be a little bit of a transition, but we're excited about getting this caliber of talent."Just when it appeared the Mariners might be keeping veteran left-hander Jarrod Washburn for the remainder of his four-year contract, and possibly even beyond that, he was traded to the Tigers for left-handed pitchers Luke French and Mauricio Robles. French joined the team prior to the Mariners' game against the Rangers and might make his first start for his new team Wednesday night against the Royals in Kansas City. Robles, a 20-year-old lefty from Venezuela, will be assigned to Class A High Desert of the California League. "I really did like Luke French," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I think he's going to be a good Major League starting pitcher. The main thing is we felt like we had to [add more] experience [to] ourselves. I think it's a very excellent trade for both teams." The pre-Deadline deal on Friday follows by just two days the acquisition of All-Star shortstop Jack Wilson and right-handed starting pitcher Ian Snell from the Pirates for catcher Jeff Clement and three Minor League pitchers. Wilson made his Mariners debut on Thursday night against the Rangers and Snell will make his first start for Seattle on Sunday night against the Rangers. Snell was expected to report to the Triple-A Tacoma club, but joined the Mariners on Friday, replaced Washburn on the 25-man roster, and threw a bullpen session. He's good to go for Sunday's series finale -- a game Washburn was going to start until he received a phone call from Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik at about 9 a.m. CT on Friday. "He didn't wake me up," Washburn said. "I am a pretty early riser. Even when I sleep in, I usually don't make it to 9." The news didn't exactly surprise the 34-year-old pitcher, but he said that when he left the visiting clubhouse at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington following Thursday night's game, "I thought it was 50-50 that I would traded." "I thought it very easily could happen, and it very easily might not happen. Obviously, it did." Now that the non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams, he cannot be traded. The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player, or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player. There is another deadline, Aug. 31, that is very important to contending teams because players must be on the Major League roster by midnight on that date to be eligible for postseason play. Washburn, who is eligible for free agency at the end of the season, is having a terrific season, posting an 8-6 record and 2.64 ERA, the third best in the American League. Washburn's trade value was at its peak, and several organizations inquired about his availability. The Tigers made an offer that Zduriencik accepted. "Our thought process was that it gives us an opportunity to acquire two left-handed pitchers, both starters, one highly touted in the Detroit system [Robles] and certainly a big league-ready pitcher [French]," Zduriencik said during a conference call with Seattle-based media. "At the end of the day, my job is to sit back and evaluate the organization as we move forward, not only what's good for the short term, but the long term. To acquire some talent as we move forward was an important thing." In French, the Mariners are getting a 6-foot-4, 220-pound starter with a 1-2 record and 3.38 ERA in seven big league appearances, including five starts. His Major League victory came against the Royals and the Mariners handed him one of his two losses -- a 2-1 decision at Comerica Park July 20. "I looked at some of the highlights and his breaking ball is what really impressed me," Wakamatsu said. "He also has a quality changeup." Robles, who turned 20 years old in March, has split this season between Class A West Michigan and Lakeland, going 8-6 with a 4.24 ERA and 111 strikeouts over 91 1/3 innings. He allowed just 79 hits in that span. "Our scouts had seen him throw and he has a very nice arm," Zduriencik said. "He's a very aggressive kid. He's 20 years old playing in high-A ball. We see an upside with this young kid. "He's a few years away. It would be nice to see him finish the year in Double-A, but we're not going to push this kid. We'll let it unfold. What we want to do is put them in our [Minor League pitching instructors'] hands. Each player has his own timeframe. How quick is he to the big leagues? It's hard to say." Washburn finds himself a lot closer to another playoff appearance than he was on Thursday. "I have mixed feelings," he said. "I'm happy and sad. I'm going to miss all the guys here. They are a great group of guys and had a lot of fun with this team. There is a great coaching staff here and Wak is a great manager. "We were doing some great things here. It is sad to be leaving that, but at the same time I'm very happy and excited to be going to a team that's in first place. I am happy to be joining them, will try to help them get to the playoffs, and hopefully win another ring." The Mariners, meanwhile, have one eye on the present and the other on the future. "To move Jarrod, we wanted to get a nice piece in the Minor Leagues, which we acquired, and get a degree of big league experience, which was important as well," Zduriencik said. "That became intriguing as we talked through some of these names." At least three other organizations had discussed deals for Washburn. "Without getting into specifics, at the end of the day we made the best deal we thought we had on the table," he said.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.