Branyan dealt to the Mariners

By Anthony Castrovince/

Russell Branyan is headed back to the Mariners, and Matt LaPorta is coming back to the big leagues.

The Indians pulled the trigger on the first of what could be several pre-Trade Deadline moves Saturday, sending Branyan back to the M’s in exchange for two prospects — Triple-A center fielder Ezequiel Carrera and High-A shortstop Juan Diaz.

The Indians will either pay the remainder of Branyan’s $2 million contract or send the M’s a player to be named later.

CORRECTION: Mark Shapiro said the Mariners will assume the rest of Branyan’s salary, and the Indians will be on the hook for the buyout of his mutual 2011 option, if the M’s opt not to exercise it. Otherwise, the Tribe will send a player to be named.

Clearly, the main incentive of this move, from the Indians’ perspective, is to give LaPorta an everyday opportunity at first base. He was batting .353 with five homers, 16 RBIs and a 1.061 OPS in 17 games since his June 7 demotion to Columbus.

But the Tribe also nets a pair of prospects. Carrera was involved in that three-team, 12-player monster of a trade involving the Indians, M’s and Mets at the 2008 Winter Meetings. A left-handed hitter with speed, the 23-year-old Carrera was batting .268 with a .654 OPS, nine steals six doubles, two triples and 18 RBIs in 64 games for Triple-A Tacoma. In six Minor League seasons, Carrera, a native of Venezuela, has hit .291 with a .750 OPS and 115 steals.

Diaz, a 21-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, was batting .295 with a .779 OPS, seven homers, eight doubles, three triples and 41 RBIs at High Desert. In five Minor League seasons, he’s hit .255 with a .668 OPS, 16 homers and 159 RBIs.

Carrera will head to Columbus, while Diaz is bound for Kinston.

As for the Mariners, not sure what they’re doing in the buyer’s market. They are 31-43 and 13 games back in the West.

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Not to mention completely mind boggling. As AC said, it’s completely insane that the Mariners are trading for major league players. I mean, unless Branyan is the lynch pin of some blockbuster Cliff Lee deal they’re brewing up (odds of that?), I have no idea what this is about.
But I’ll take it! Those are both better prospects than I thought we’d ever get for Branyan, because I didn’t think we’d get much more than a bag of balls.

Wow, that was quick. And rather sudden.

I’m just glad i don’t have to watch him try to play first base. He was awful.

It appears that Mariners fan see this as a positive because of the option on Branyan ($5M, I believe) for next year. He’s already put up better numbers than their other first basemen, although that’s not saying much. I guess they consider him a good option for next season, too.
I find that weird, though, because if they are unhappy with their first basemen, why not wait until the off season? Were they concerned about losing Branyan again for a better deal? Was he really going to be offered more than $5M? The Tribe were clearly not going to pick up that option, so what as the rush?
Supposedly, Carrera has the makings of a solid 4th outfielder, according to Baseball America, which can only mean that he’ll be starting for us next year.

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