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Mariners face tough decision

The Seattle Mariners are 48-47, and seven games out of first place in the American League West. They have not made the playoffs since 2001 and have only sniffed a berth in a few of the years since that milestone.

Seattle was supposed to make a move this year, something that fans in the Emerald City would tell you is an annual battle cry that falls short each season. The front office was fairly aggressive, adding nice pieces in Leonys Martin and Dae-Ho Lee to the lineup. The result is the sixth-best offense in the American League, despite an order that relies quite heavily on the trio of Kyle Seager, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz.

With all that said, we sit here on the morning of July 21, less than two weeks from the August 1 trade deadline, and the Mariners are faced with a stark reality. Should they buy and make a push for the playoffs, or should they sell and once again wait until next year?

While many Seattle fans might implore the team to trade a few young pieces for some help-now guys, the Mariners would be wise to sell off some parts and make a run at this thing in 2017. Perhaps the front office is showing that will be the direction with Wednesday’s trade of reliever Mike Montgomery to the Chicago Cubs, getting back a pair of prospects, according to ESPN.

Seattle’s biggest problem is age. While the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros are young, the Mariners are largely a collection of older guys. Cano is 33 years old while Lee (34), Cruz (36), Seth Smith (33), Nori Aoki (34), Hisashi Iwakuma (35) and Tom Wilhelmsen (32) are getting up there in age. Of the core, only Ketel Marte (22), Felix Hernandez (30) and Seager (28) can be considered in their primes or on the young side of it.

Perhaps the Mariners even make the bold move of shipping Cruz. The 36-year-old designated hitter would likely have to stay in the American League because of his lackluster defense in the outfield, but a team like the Cleveland Indians might be willing to strike a deal. Cleveland has a good farm system and with Cruz only owed $14.2 million over each of the next two seasons, his contract wouldn’t be a problem.

Some would question why Seattle would sell Cruz off now, while he’s hitting .284 with 23 home runs and 59 RBI. Because soon, Cruz will go downhill and the Mariners will get nothing for him. They aren’t winning a World Series in his tenure, so why not get a couple of top-notch, young players for the slugger?

At some point, Seattle might need to tear this thing down and rebuild around Cano, Seager, Marte and Hernandez. It’s not what the folks in the northwest want to hear, but it’s the hard truth.

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