Mariners will miss Cedeno's presence
Shortstop among five players heading to Pirates in swap
SEATTLE -- There likely will be praise for Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik after the Mariners dealt shortstop Ronny Cedeno and Triple-A catcher and first baseman Jeff Clement, along with three Minor League pitchers, to the Pirates for shortstop Jack Wilson and pitcher Ian Snell on Wednesday.
The deal gives the Mariners a shortstop, one of the major areas of concern for a team that has struggled to put runs on the board this season. And the thought is that Snell could be a key part of Seattle's rotation in the near future.But even if players know the quality of teammate they're getting in Wilson -- a former All-Star and one of the better defensive shortstops in the Majors -- it's never easy to watch a guy like Cedeno pack up his things and say his goodbyes. That was the scene in the Seattle clubhouse before Wednesday's game against Toronto, shortly after the trade was announced. "On paper, it makes a lot of sense," said designated hitter Mike Sweeney, a veteran who has been around this kind of situation in his career. "But personally, it hurts to see an emotional Ronny Cedeno leaving this clubhouse." Cedeno, who is in an 0-for-26 slump and is batting .167 this year, said he was a little surprised by the move, but understands this is how the game works. "This is the game," Cedeno said. "It's a business here. I don't have the control of that. I'm really going to miss my teammates here. But it's part of the game." Forgotten in this trade may be that Clement was at one time considered the Mariners' catcher of the future. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Clement tore up the Minor Leagues, but hasn't proved that he could hit at the big league level. Clement has spent the season in Triple-A Tacoma, hitting .288 with 14 home runs and 68 RBIs. He played in 66 games for the Mariners last season, but hit only .227 and struck out 63 times in 203 at-bats. Clement is a career .286 hitter in the Minors, .237 in the Majors. There have also been questions about Clement's viability as a catcher, which is partially why he's been playing first base at Triple-A Tacoma. He also had knee problems that contributed to his struggles behind the dish. Mariners catcher Rob Johnson spent a considerable amount of time with Clement in Triple-A, and doesn't think he'll have a problem being an everyday player in the bigs. "Seeing this guy get on hot streaks, man, it was unbelievable," Johnson said. "That stint before he got called up last year, they couldn't throw him anything. It was like it was contagious. Every ball he hit was a double or a home run, smoked. His swing is really good." As is usually the case, even when a deal figures to make a team better -- and this one has all the makings of a quality trade -- it doesn't make this time of year any easier. "You can't tie your hands," said infielder Chris Woodward. "Obviously, it's just the front office trying to make our team as good as it can be. Sometimes good guys have to leave, and unfortunately, that's the way the game works."
Christian Caple is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.