Time for M's to answer the A's

Five potential trade targets for Seattle Mariners to stay in the AL West race

Updated: July 8, 2014, 6:31 PM ET
By Dan Szymborski | ESPN Insider

Justin Morneau, Josh WillinghamGetty ImagesJustin Morneau and Josh Willingham could help a Mariners offense that ranks 26th in OPS.

While you were watching fireworks and eating delicious charred food, the A's fired the first salvo of July, landing Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel for a package headlined by their top prospect, Addison Russell. In the Insider space last week, my esteemed ESPN colleague Paul Swydan made a solid argument for why the Mariners should stay the course, and because I rarely pass up the opportunity to be a contrarian, in light of last week's trade, I'm taking the exact opposite viewpoint: Now is a great time for the Mariners to improve the team.

I was ambivalent about the Mariners' chances going into the season, seeing them as a team more likely to be around .500. But the Mariners have been better than I expected, especially considering they have dealt with injuries to starters Taijuan Walker and James Paxton and several disappointments in the starting lineup. If the season ended today, the Mariners would earn one of the wild-card spots, and that's not some crazy bit of Pythagorean fortune, as the team has the third-best run differential in baseball.

As such, the Mariners are a real contender, not a pretend one, and it makes sense to keep pushing to make the team as solid as possible for the rest of the summer.