In appearance, the trade makes Seattle look like a buyer, when at 7.5 back in the AL West and 6.5 back in the wild card, it might seem more prudent to be a seller.
But Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times thinks that the Mariners might have something else up their sleeve:
Here's another reason why this move might have been made. We'll know by Friday if it was the reason. And that is the idea that perhaps the Mariners now have another deal in the works, a much bigger one involving Washburn, where they can land a top young shortstop prospect.
One problem with this idea is that the market for Washburn seems to be shrinking. The Brewers' recent fade may have convinced them to pull out of the market altogether. Same for the Rays. The Phillies, obviously, don't need him.
That leaves who? The Yankees, perhaps. The Rangers? Not so likely seeing as how the teams are in the same division. The Red Sox? Maybe, if they fail to land Roy Halladay.
Also a possibility, as Buster Olney reports, is that the Mariners will hold onto Washburn and try to sign him to a contract extension, maybe the most likely scenario of all.
Let the head-scratching continue.