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SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports' Steve Gardner discusses the top landing spots for two-way star Ohtani, the player who is being called the Japanese Babe Ruth. USA TODAY Sports

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The Seattle Mariners and Miami Marlins, separated by 2,732 miles and going in complete opposite directions, pulled off the most stunning deal of the offseason Thursday, satisfying each other’s needs before the holidays.

It left the Mariners with a legitimate playoff berth and a prized Japanese import in their sights while the Marlins have dollar signs dancing in their heads.

The Marlins got to officially launch their firesale, dumping second baseman Dee Gordon and the remaining $38 million of his contract, while the Mariners added a dynamic ingredient to their lineup while giving them a little more cash to stuff into Shohei Ohtani’s holiday stocking.

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The Mariners, saddled with baseball’s longest playoff drought at 16 seasons, not only are planning to move Gordon, a two-time Gold Glove winner, to center field for the first time in his career, but are making room for the first true two-way player in 40 years.

The Mariners are one of the seven finalists for Ohtani’s services, and the Mariners are trying to make themselves a whole lot tougher to resist them with their latest trade. The Gordon trade comes with an extra $1 million in international money, and in the last 24 hours, the Mariners have now come up with $3.557 million to give to Ohtani as a signing bonus.

Yes, it also just so happens to be the most money any team can offer.

Go ahead, mark it down, Dec. 7, 2017. If the Mariners are finally in the playoffs, this will be the date that will forever be cherished.

It will be the day they got Gordon, and perhaps Ohtani as well.

If you’re the Marlins, this will also be the date the latest, and perhaps greatest start of the Marlins’ firesale.

The trade of Gordon now permits them to hang onto All-Star outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, while still hoping to dump Giancarlo Stanton and the remaining $295 million of his contract.

The Marlins, who a year ago believed they were stuck with Gordon’s contract until his sensational 2017 season, also got back the Mariners’ top pitching prospect in Nick Neidert and two other minor leaguers, infielder Chris Torres and right-hander Robert Dugger.

If everything goes right for the Marlins, they’ll be able to stop bleeding money, while also building a contender within a few years. In the meantime, they’re asking for even more patience by the Marlins’ battered fanbase, who booed owner Derek Jeter when shown on the scoreboard last weekend at a Miami Heat game.

Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto, on the other hand, is trying to become the first executive since Hall of Famer Pat Gillick to bring the Mariners to the playoffs. He has now made 61 trades in 27 months, and perhaps no trade has been bigger since his arrival.

He not only has a stolen-base king and a former National League batting champion, but that extra  international money that could prove to be the difference-maker if they’re able to land Ohtani.

Really, the biggest gamble in the entire deal is Gordon’s ability to move from second base to center field. He played nine games in center field during winter ball four years ago, but has been strictly a second baseman and shortstop in his career. Yet, they are so confident he can pull it off that they didn’t even ask Gordon his thoughts until the trade was consummated.

“I don’t think the transition to center field will be terribly difficult for him,’’ Dipoto said. “We feel like it will be a pretty seamless transition for him.’’ 

“I was shocked really,’’ Gordon said. “I honestly never heard of a situation where a guy, a Gold Glove-caliber position player, is asked to turn over to a new position. I was definitely shocked, but at the end of the day, I am a team player.

“I want to win. I’ve seen the roster, we’ve got a pretty good team, and I’m excited to be part of it.’’

Yet, what the Mariners can bank on is having one of the most dynamic offensive players in their lineup. He hit .308 with 60 stolen bases last season, and has led the league in stolen bases three of the last four seasons.

“We want to be more athletic,’’ Dipoto said, “we want to be faster, and more dynamic on the bases. Very few players on the planet are more dynamic on the bases than Dee Gordon."

Certainly, time will tell how this all sorts itself out, but if everything goes according to plan, Dec. 7, 2017, could forever be remembered as the date that changed the fate of two franchises.

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