The Mariners have traded Cliff Lee and relief pitcher Mark Lowe to the Rangers for Justin Smoak and three prospects.
According to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times, the prospects are pitchers Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke, and second baseman Matt Lawson. Buster Olney is reporting that Seattle is kicking in
$2.5 million in order to help offset the $4 million in salary owed to Lee. In
return, Texas gave a better package of prospects than they otherwise would have.
This is a fairly astonishing turn of events given how the day has been ruled by rumors of Lee going to the Yankees. The return the Mariners are getting for Lee is fairly astonishing as well. The inclusion of Smoak in the deal is a coup enough for the Mariners, but three prospects as well is a very tall price for Texas to pay for what is no better than a rental of Cliff Lee. It may be a great rental — this trade has to make them the favorites in the AL West going forward if they weren’t already, and having Lee in tow will make them a strong team come playoff time — but it’s a rental all the same.
Whether this deal guts the Rangers’ vaunted farm system is unclear. I’m not familiar with Beavan, Lueke, and Lawson, but we’ll do some digging here and find out exactly what Texas has given up.
Either way, this deal may work out for the Rangers, but it’s hard to see how any outcomes short of winning the pennant will make the trade a true success.