Mariners’ League still in mix as deadline nears

Mariners reliever Brandon League’s name continues to be mentioned prominently in trade rumors as we approach the last 24 hours before MLB’s non-waiver trade deadline — which is 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

League, 29, will be a free agent at season’s end and Seattle is in a seller’s position, sitting 10 games under .500 and 14 games out of first place in the AL West. The right-hander’s name has been linked to talks with the Dodgers, Giants, Angels and White Sox, but Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik plays things close to the vest and most of his previous trades — including last week’s deal of Ichiro Suzuki to the Yankees — came with no advance warning.

The same was true last December when Michael Pineda went to the Yankees for Jesus Montero, as well as last year’s trade deadline deals that sent Doug Fister to the Tigers and Erik Bedard to the Red Sox.

All that is certain now is that Zduriencik is exploring the market for League, a durable veteran whose 181 appearances since the start of 2010 are the most of any American League reliever. League gave up three hits and three runs in Seattle’s 7-6 win over the Royals on Sunday, but has generally pitched well since losing his closer’s role to Tom Wilhelmsen in late May. Since then, he’s posted a 2.96 ERA with 27 hits, 8 runs, 7 walks and 14 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings.

Overall he’s 0-5 with a 3.63 ERA and nine saves this season after saving 37 games in 2011 when he earned his first All-Star berth. League has about $1.8 million remaining on this year’s $5 million deal.

The other two pitchers the Mariners might be tempted to move would be starters Jason Vargas and Kevin Millwood. Vargas, 29, has the most value since he’s under team control for another year as he heads into his final season of arbitration eligibility. He’s also having his best season as a starter (11-7, 3.76 ERA), so Zduriencik wouldn’t likely deal him unless he received a quality offensive prospect or two in return.

Millwood, 37,  is in the final two months of a one-year, $1 million deal he signed as a non-roster invitee. He’s pitched well this season, but lack of run support has left his record at 4-8 with a 3.90 ERA. The veteran knows he could be dealt to a contender, but isn’t spending a lot of time thinking about it.

“That’s just another thing I can’t control, so I try not to worry about things like that,” he said. “Whatever happens, happens.”

— Greg Johns

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