The Seattle Mariners general manager knows where his team is: seven games under .500 at 45-52 and 11 games behind first-place Oakland in the American League West standings.
The odds of rebounding and making the postseason in the final 65 games are about as good as wining the Powerball. A winning season -- something that hasn't happened since 2009 -- isn't impossible, but not necessarily likely.
Really, the Mariners have all the markings of being a seller at the trade deadline. And Seattle has plenty to sell.
And yet, Zduriencik has yet to start the bidding process on the players that aren't a part of the organization's future.
No, he's choosing to wait.
"In all fairness, I don't think I'm going to be aggressive," Zduriencik said a few days before the All-Star break. "I don't think I'm going to go out there and start shopping our players. I don't think that's the right thing to do.''
The official trade deadline is July 31. And it's likely in the next week or so, Zduriencik's stance could change based on what he sees from his team.
And even if the Mariners are playing well, it's not as if he can't still make sensible moves.
"You have to entertain calls when people call, and they are calling," he said. "You have to listen to what they have to say and you ultimately have to do what is best for the organization."
Zduriencik is in an odd position. He's in the final year of his contract and no extension has been formally announced. Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln and team president Chuck Armstrong could be using the second half of the season to determine Zduriencik's fate.
And that leaves Zduriencik trying to determine whether or not to make a trade that would help the team in the future or hang on to players that could help the Mariners salvage the second half of the season.
How much does a record near or just over .500 mean to Zduriencik? To the fans? To the ownership?
Zduriencik is loath to talk about such scenarios and the concept of decision making to maintain employment.
"I'll do my job as I'm supposed to do," he said of trades. "I'm certainly going to listen."
The Mariners have 11 players in the final year of their contracts, and will be up for free agency. Of those 11, none are looked as key components to future seasons. They are veterans and bench players and expendable.
There are a few moves Zduriencik could make that wouldn't cripple the team's 25-man roster.
Left-handed pitchers Oliver Perez and Joe Saunders could have value on the trade market and dealt without drastic repercussions. Even with a little hiccup before the All-Star break, Perez has still been Seattle's best reliever. The veteran lefty has shown the ability to dominate both left and right-handed hitters. He is 2-2 with 2 saves and a 1.75 ERA in 38 relief appearances with 50 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings pitched. With teams like Detroit, Boston and Cleveland all in desperate need of relief help, Perez's versatility will make him highly valuable.
After a sluggish start, Saunders has pitched much better. He's 8-8 with a 4.24 ERA in 19 starts with Seattle. While he isn't overpowering, he's dependable. And team's in need of an experienced fourth or fifth starter, who makes every start, and usually pitches into the seventh inning with playoff experience, has value.
Shortstop Brendan Ryan has lost his starting spot to rookie Brad Miller. Ryan has been serving as a backup infielder, but teams in search of a sure-handed glove and not concerned with his anemic offensive ability could pick him up as a bench player. The return won't be large. The same minimal return would come in deals for starting pitcher Aaron Harang and outfielders Endy Chavez, Jason Bay and Franklin Gutierrez.
The real conundrum for Zduriencik will be with sluggers Kendrys Morales, Raul Ibanez and Michael Morse.
It seems likely the Mariners will keep Morales around. The switch-hitting designated hitter is batting .280 with 14 homers and 53 RBI.
The Mariners would obviously like to sign Morales to a multi-year extension, but having Scott Boras as an agent makes things difficult. Boras is a firm believer in the value of the open market over extensions. But the Mariners actually have some leverage.
Because of Morales' service time, the Mariners can tender a one-year contract to Morales for next season for roughly $14 million (the average salary of the top 125 players in baseball). He can refuse it and opt for free agency. But by doing that, any team that signs Morales to a free agent contract must give up their first-round draft pick for next season as compensation for signing him.
Morse has power and can hit. But he hasn't been healthy for much of the first half. However, if he were to get hot in the next 12 days, an offensively-starved team would take a chance on him. Still, his injury history will likely decrease the return value in a trade.
Ibanez is also an attractive proposition to teams looking for power from the left-side. The 41-year-old outfielder has hit 24 homers in the first half of the season. But Ibanez also has value to the Mariners as a middle of the order of the bat and a clubhouse presence for the glut of young players in the Seattle clubhouse.
But would the return in a trade for Ibanez equal what he gives the team on a daily basis.
Zduriencik says he isn't going to be aggressive when it comes to the trade deadline But he still should be prudent.
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