Royals fan got to see Danny Hultzen at the 2012 All Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium. But could he be part of a deal with the Mariners? Photo Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

Operation Offseason Improvement: Pitching Trade Partners Part One

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Here we sit a week before the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee meaning it’s time to beat the trade drum again. Kansas City it seems will need to trade with a willing partner to fill out the rotation.

I’ve broken this into three parts for each team that has exceptional pitching depth plus might need one of the Royals bats.

Seattle Mariners –

It’s no secret that the M’s need a bat, which might be better looking for hitters since Safeco Field is bringing in the fences in 2013.  While Felix Hernandez would be nice in Royal blue simply put the Mariners aren’t going to trade him unless KC wants to part with those pieces.

After we get past the former Cy Young award winner Hernandez who’s next on the list of trade targets? Seattle has some attractive parts that make up their current rotation but the bigger prizes are probably in the farm system.

The Trade Targets –

James Paxton, LHP: Ranked as Baseball America’s 52nd overall prospect from British Columbia but I included the 23-year-old due to going 12-4 the past two seasons in double-A Jackson. He spent most of 2012 in AA ball going 9-4 with 3.05 ERA, striking out 110 with 54 walks in 21 starts. It’s no doubt a project but he might be a throw in with a later name mentioned as he’s probably a season or two from being MLB ready.

Brandon Maurer, RHP: This right hander is 22 and like Paxton spent all of the 2012 season in double-A. He was drafted out of high school in 2008 spending the first two years in rookie ball. Last season he finally posted a winning year making 24 starts in Jackson. In addition to going 9-2 his ERA was 3.20 with 117 K’s while walking 48 in 137.2 innings. Another throw in candidate who will probably get promoted to triple-A next season but appears to be on the fast track.

Erasmo Ramirez, RHP: Another 22 year old right hander from this organization but hails from Nicaragua. He made his MLB debut on April 9 for Seattle while going just 1-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 16 games with eight starts. He’s another guy who strikes guys out while not walking many, his numbers were 48 SO/12 BB with Seattle then with triple-A Tacoma 58/18 in 15 starts. Since he made the majors he could have five to six years of club control.

Danny Hultzen, LHP:  Hultzen is the same age as the previous two guys mentioned but drafted second overall by Seattle out of Virginia in 2011. In 2012 he spent time in both double and triple-A plus was discussed as a September call-up. After going 8-3 at Jackson he struggled a bit with Tacoma with a 1-4 record but the concern is 75 walks (32 AA/43 AAA) even with 136 strikeouts. The ERA also showed him dominating double-A 1.19 then struggling when moving up with a 5.92 in the next level. To get him KC would need to part with a Mike Moustakas or Billy Butler type hitter for a guy probably more suited for a 2014 debut.

Blake Beavan, RHP: Royals fans saw Beavan a few times in 2012 when the righty went 11-11 for Seattle. His 4.43 ERA is high but he did strikeout 67 to just 24 walks in making 26 starts last season. July was the best month which included beating the KC twice in a stretch from July 17-27. Maybe not a front line starter but just 23 and a former first round pick by Texas he could be a future star. Given the depth of M’s organization he could be on the cheap even with how young he is.

Jason Vargas, LHP: Like Beavan, Vargas was solid in July when the Mariners as a team showed promise that they might be improving as a team. He’s gone from 3, 6, 10 to 14 wins during his time in Seattle which began in 2009 (needs to learn to keep opponents in the part) after being in Florida and New York Mets. He too beat KC twice from July 16-26 when M’s beat down the Royals. What makes him attractive is he’s a workhorse throwing 217.1 innings while striking out 141 with 55 walks. If possible Kansas City should make a play at both Vargas and one of these others for a hitter to help out both teams. He’s a free agent after this season which is a concern.

Taijuan Walker, RHP: Walker would be a great for any deal with the Mariners as Baseball America’s 20th ranked prospect and is 20 years old. Seattle selected him 43rd overall as a first round sandwich pick in 2010 out of Yucaipa HS in California. In 25 starts last season for Jackson, he threw 126.2 innings, striking out 118 with 50 walks. His record was 7-10 with a 4.69. Previous to this last season in double-A he’d been only in rookie and A-ball. I’d like KC to kick the tires on including Walker in any potential deal with the M’s.

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