Mariners trade Cliff Lee to Texas Rangers
The Mariners traded Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe to the Texas Rangers for first baseman Justin Smoak and three prospects.
Seattle Times staff reporter
1B Justin SmoakAge: 23. Bats/Throws: Switch/Left. Height: 6-4. Weight: 220.
Drafted by Rangers: First round, 2008 (No. 11).
2010: Smoak was called up by Rangers on April 23, and hit .209 with eight home runs and 34 RBI in 235 at-bats.
RHP Blake BeavanAge: 21. Bats/Throws: Right/Right. Height: 6-7. Weight: 250.
Drafted by Rangers: First round, 2007 (No. 17).
2010: At Class AA Frisco, Beavan was 10-5 with a 2.78 ERA, in 17 starts. He walked just 12 in 110 innings.
RHP Josh LuekeAge: 25. Bats/Throws: Right/Right. Height: 6-5. Weight: 220.
Drafted by Rangers: 16th round, 2007.
2010: In 15 games at Frisco, all in relief, Lueke had a 3.86 ERA and struck out 26 in 18-2/3 innings.
2B Matt LawsonAge: 24. Bats/Throws: Right/Right. Height: 6-0. Weight: 195.
Drafted by Rangers: 14th round, 2007.
2010: In 76 games with Frisco, Lawson hit .277 with seven home runs and an OPS of .806.
Knowing when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em wound up landing Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik the ace hand he'd been looking for.
Zduriencik was deep into talks with the New York Yankees on Friday that would have brought Seattle top catching prospect Jesus Montero and other minor-leaguers in exchange for starting pitcher Cliff Lee. But Zduriencik had long coveted the Texas Rangers' young first-base prospect Justin Smoak, a switch-hitter previously deemed untouchable until his team put a call into the Mariners on Friday morning as the talks with the Yankees blazed.
Knowing the Mariners were close to a deal with New York — with details splashed all over the media from coast to coast — the Rangers finally put Smoak's name on the table. Three other Class AA prospects were later tossed in by the Rangers; relief pitcher Mark Lowe and more than $2 million in cash were added on by Zduriencik; and Lee was soon joining his fourth team in less than a year.
"We had had a lot of talks with Texas and this is the player that we desired," Zduriencik said at a Safeco Field news conference announcing the deal. "And they threw different things around and yes, there was a point in time this morning when, through the conversations, I said, 'Look, there are other opportunities. If you want to do this deal, this is the player we want.' And they said yes."
Smoak was on a shortlist of players the Mariners were looking to obtain when they first set out to shop Lee, a free agent at season's end.
Smoak will join the team Saturday as the starting first baseman, bumping Russell Branyan to a more permanent designated hitter role. In addition to landing Smoak, hitting .209 with eight home runs and 34 runs batted in for the Rangers in just his second full season of professional baseball, the Mariners also acquired Class AA pitchers Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke and AA infielder Matt Lawson.
Both Smoak and Beavan were first-round picks of the Rangers, with Smoak going 11th overall in 2008 and Beavan being taken 17th overall in 2007. That easily trumps the first-round and compensatory-round draft picks the Mariners could have received by keeping Lee the rest of this season and then letting him leave as a free agent.
Beaven, 21, was 10-5 with a 2.78 earned-run average in 17 starts at AA, while Lueke, 25, was 3-2 with 12 saves and 62 strikeouts in 38-1/3 innings in 32 outings at AA and A level combined. Lawson, 24, hit .277 with a .371 on-base percentage and was the starting second baseman for the 2010 Texas League South All-Stars.
Zduriencik had played a waiting game in recent weeks, hoping to increase the offers for Lee while watchful not to hang on too long and lessen his value. By dealing Lee when he did, he gave the Rangers the chance to pitch him this weekend and for two additional weeks before the July 31 trade deadline.
The waiting game bore fruit this week, with word the Minnesota Twins might have put a package together than included prized Class A outfielder Aaron Hicks and AA catching prospect Wilson Ramos. Talks with the Yankees intensified soon after.
Even Lee thought he was going to be a Yankee. He phoned former Indians teammate CC Sabathia, now with New York, and was told Yankees officials had been pumping him for background information about Lee.
"Obviously, when I woke up this morning, the media had kind of caught on to something," Lee said. "It was all over 'SportsCenter' and everything. I saw the Yankees and that it was on the verge of happening. Obviously, I called CC to see what he thought and if he knew anything. I called my agent.
"It seemed like it was real close. It nearly happened. But it's not what happened. It's definitely not what happened. I'm a Ranger now."
Talks with the Yankees hit a snag, supposedly after the Mariners reviewed the medical files on AA second baseman David Adams, a secondary piece to the Montero package. Adams sprained his ankle in a game nearly seven weeks ago and hasn't played since.
Zduriencik wouldn't comment directly on the players involved in the Yankees talks.
"There are issues here and there; we certainly do it," Zduriencik said of running medicals on players. "You never do a deal without exchanging medicals, and that was certainly an issue in this deal."
Reports after the trade stated that the Yankees were upset with Zduriencik for pulling out of a deal they thought was nearly done. One source stated that Yankees GM Brian Cashman had actually phoned Lee at his Magnolia home to tell him that a deal with New York was close to being completed.
But some New York sources close to the scene contradicted those reports about the Yankees being angry, saying there was frustration, but Zduriencik had a right to do whatever he wanted until a final deal was set.
Zduriencik insisted at the news conference that he, as a matter of principle, does not go shopping for a better deal once he's agreed to something. The insinuation being that the proposed Yankees deal was only in the latter stages when Zduriencik finally got his man from Texas.
"It's hard for me to sit here and go into specifics," he said. "We had ongoing talks with several clubs. And at the end, when you're finished and you go another direction, before you consummate a deal, you always go back and tell the other club, 'Hey, look, this is the direction we're going, this is the decision we made.' "
In other words, he held his cards to the very end. And wound up getting his man.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.