Now, let me repeat: this is just one of many conversations the Mariners have had with various teams, but I’m told it got beyond the mere single phone call/hang up and that some actual names were bandied about between the squads.
One proposal went something along the lines of the left-handed hitting Jones and Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan going to the Mariners with potentially one other throw-in, in exchange for first baseman Justin Smoak, catcher John Jaso and starting pitcher Hector Noesi.
I have no problem with the Pirates trading Jones or Hanrahan, but this one doesn't make sense. Noesi, a 25-year-old with a weak minor-league record who's coming off a poor season in Seattle, has almost no trade value. Jaso is definitely interesting, but he's already 29, and his career numbers are still confusing enough that you can look at them and see almost anything you want to. Can he really hit in the majors? Well, probably, but who knows? Whoever Jaso is, the Pirates' recent acquisition of Russell Martin suggests that, if the Pirates and Mariners really do swing a deal for Jones, Jaso probably won't be a part of it.
That leaves Smoak, who turns 26 this week. A few years ago, he looked like one of the better young power hitters in the majors, posting a great half-season with the Rangers two years after being drafted. Last year, he hit .217/.290/.364 as a first baseman.
Smoak may still have upside. The Pirates almost certainly would be selling high on Jones. But, four-and-a-half years after the Pirates' last rebuild began, I don't see the point in shipping off Jones and Hanrahan for a couple question marks. I'm sure this proposal is real, but I bet it came from the Mariners.