In Case You Missed It: December 1-7

The Seattle Mariners made shockwaves in the baseball world this past week with their signing of second baseman Robinson Cano to a massive 10-year contract that will pay him $240 million. Undoubtedly, this is likely to be the biggest splash of the offseason for the Mariners who clearly are looking to become relevant again in 2014. As PI’s Alex Carson notes, this signing represents a change in the tide for the M’s who’ve seen their pursuit of past big name free agents, such as Prince Fielder and Josh Hamilton, lead to nothing but disappointment. Obviously there’s incredible risk here, and much has been made about how these mega-deals rarely work in the favour of the club signing the checks. When the Mariners signed Cano they weren’t thinking about years 8, 9, or 10 of the contract, their thinking was geared towards years 1, 2, 3, and 4. Jason A/ Churchill sums up the importance of making the Cano deal count, and takes a look at what other opportunities may come the Mariners way in the coming weeks.

The Mariners’ desire to add impact bats to their lineup has connected them multiple players, and a name that has come up often is outfielder Matt Kemp. Chris Moran takes a look at what can reasonably be expected from Kemp heading into the 2014, and sums him up as a bat first corner outfield type who would add some flare to the lineup, but perhaps not enough value to warrant his financial and potential prospect cost.

While the Mariners’ signing of Cano proved to be a surprise, the man they were most often connected with, Jacoby Ellsbury, turned some heads when he agreed to a deal with the New York Yankees. Steve Simas takes a look at Ellsbury’s expected fantasy value in 2014, while Jason argues that with this signing the Yankees are throwing their luxury tax dreams out the window for now in order to field the best team possible next year. As great as it would’ve been to see Ellsbury bat at the top of the Mariners’ lineup for years to come, $148 million for a player who provides little power would be a tough pill to swallow. That’s not a knock on Ellsbury as he excels in the other aspects of the game, but that’s a huge price to pay for a player who won’t be responsible for driving runs in. Look at it this way: the Yankees will pay approximately $21 million on average over the next seven years to Ellsbury, while the Mariners will pay Cano $24 million on average during the next ten years. There’s an argument for Cano being one of the top five players in the game and he’s a much more complete hitter than Ellsbury is.

The free agent starting pitching market has been slow at this point in the winter, likely due to the unknown status of Masahiro Tanaka, but that won’t stop the Mariners who are in serious pursuit of adding another top arm to slot behind King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma. According to Jason’s sources, there’s validity to a series of tweets by Buster Olney that suggested the M’s were involved in the Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana sweepstakes. Jason suggests the trio will each cost upwards of $15 million on multi-year deals that could exceed five seasons. In the same piece, Jason takes a look at what’s been happening on the trade front for the Mariners, and gives his opinion on the top ten 40-man roster players who’re most likely to be traded.

With the Winter Meetings set to begin this week, expect another busy week of transactions in the baseball world. The hope for Mariners fans is that the Cano signing was a prelude to other moves that are now more possible with a proven all-star agreeing to sign in the Emerald City. If you haven’t already read Geoff Baker’s expose on the Mariners’ front office, do so; it’s a must read.

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Jason A. Churchill

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