Scott Merkin, MLB.com beat writer for the Chicago White Sox, reports that the Seattle Mariners are in “serious talks” about outfielder Dayan Viciedo. Merkin’s tweet mentions that the Chicago is interested in getting a reliever in return for Viciedo.
This is not the first time that Seattle has been reported to be interested in the right-handed power hitter; they’ve been linked to Viciedo for several years and at this year’s trading deadline. The Mariners have been intent on upgrading the team’s offensive production with a focus on adding right-handed power. San Francisco had been previously reported to be interested this past July.
Source: White Sox in serious talks with Mariners on moving Viciedo. Targeting a reliever in return
— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) December 11, 2014
The 25-year-old Viciedo is a deep threat, which is in short demand in the majors. Despite demonstrating power since his major league debut with Chicago in 2010, he has provided below-replacement level value with -0.7 fWAR in 2014. He primarily hit in the middle of the White Sox batting order and, most likely, would bat sixth or seventh in Seattle.
|Viciedo 2014 Offensive Production
In addition to his offensive shortcomings, Viciedo was a below average defender in 2014 posting -17 in Defensive Runs Saved (DSR) and a -12.8 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). If he were to join the Mariners, he would likely play a corner outfield spot. Last year, he played 53 games in left field and 83 in right field.
Although Chicago is focused on being a contender in 2015, their motivation for moving Viciedo could be financially driven. The White Sox have spent $61 million on lefty setup man Zach Duke and closer David Robertson, another $25 million on first baseman/designated hitter Adam LaRoche, and acquired up starter Jeff Samardzija in a six-player trade with the Oakland Athletics and they may be reaching their budgetary limits. The 25-year-old, who made $2.8 million and projects to make $4.4 million in arbitration this year, is represented by Scott Boras and won’t be be a free agent until 2018.
The White Sox could have interest in a number of Mariners’ relief pitchers after Chicago’s bullpen ranked 14th in the American League teams in 2014. Seattle’s bullpen ranked among the best in baseball in 2014 and may be willing to move relief pitching to land a power hitter. Until now, the White Sox have added the left-handed Duke to their relief corps.
From the Mariners’ standpoint, they would be accepting a great deal of risk by trading for the 25-year-old slugger; Safeco Field is notorious for inhibiting right-handed power. If Viciedo were to realize his potential with the Mariners, acquiring him for a relief pitcher or pitchers would be a coup for General Manager Jack Zduriencik.
It’s quite possible that the numerous trade rumors surrounding the Mariners and various sluggers may be a message to former Toronto Blue Jay Melky Cabrera’s representation that Seattle is willing to go elsewhere to upgrade their offense if they can’t reach an agreement with the switch-hitting free agent.