The Seattle Mariners and the Winter Meetings

ChooGetty 300x200 The Seattle Mariners and the Winter MeetingsThere was once a time when clubs went to the winter meetings with a checklist of things to get done. Many of those tasks were about setting the groundwork for deals to get done, either on the final day or two of the meetings, or later in the winter. Clubs talk to other clubs. They talk to agents. They even talk to players.

This year, it appears some teams are down in Florida looking to finish off deals they started this past week, or before that when the general managers meetings took place last month. The Seattle Mariners are one those teams.

That isn’t to say they have a handful of deals that imminent and simply need finalizing, but the groundwork has been laid on several fronts, strongly suggesting GM Jack Zduriencik could come away with a significant addition or two, on top of Robinson Cano, whose introductory press conference is likely to place in Lake Buena Vista.

One down, two to go
Zduriencik told reporters last week that he’d like to add three hitters. Cano is one, leaving two more to go, ideally, anyway. The M’s have been linked regularly to everyone on the market. Included below are some platoon types that can also fit well, but none of those would count as one of the three bats. Together with a quality platoon partner they could.

Note that I have no way of making sure this list includes ALL of the players the M’s have shown interest in, so there are some that won’t be listed here. Also, if a player like Jose Bautista or Giancarlo Stanton truly are available, it’s news to me, therefore they are not listed. If they are, you can bet Seattle has some level of interest.

Also, not all players named under “trade possibilities” is going to be traded. A few may not be available, but I’ve heard the name connected to Seattle in some form or fashion.

Free Agent Bats
Shin-Soo Choo
Corey Hart
Nelson Cruz
Kendrys Morales
James Loney
Rajai Davis
Mark Reynolds
Andres Torres
Delmon Young
Brennan Boesch
Wilson Betemit
Tyler Colvin

Trade Possibilities
Matt Kemp
Matt Joyce
Gerardo Parra
Billy Butler
Dayan Viciedo

The club could also use a catcher, or even two. I don’t like the idea of assuming Mike Zunino is ready to take on the first-string workload.

Free Agent Catchers
John Buck
Ramon Hernandez
Kurt Suzuki
Michael McKendry

Trade Possibilities
Nick Hundley

The Mariners are focused on starting pitching just as much as hitters, but the market has yet to fully develop, with Ricky Nolasco, Tim Hudson and Phil Hughes the only significant deals to date. The trade rumors surrounding David Price won’t die, but there are free agents available that won’t cost premium young talent and Seattle is considering any and all options. There’s always the chance the club signs two starters, perhaps even three — at least one of the lesser free agents requiring little guaranteed money on a 1-2 year deal.

Starting Pitchers
Ervin Santana
Ubaldo Jimenez
Matt Garza
Chris Capuano
Bartolo Colon
Gavin Floyd
Jason Hammel
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Mike Pelfrey
Clayton Richard
Masahiro Tanaka*
Edinson Volquez
Barry Zito

Trade Possibilties
Jeremy Hellickson
Yovani Gallardo
David Price
Cliff Lee

Yes, Lee’s name has come up. Have no idea how serious Seattle would be and don’t know if Philadelphia would move him at this point, after re-upping with both Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley.

Seattle has been checking on relievers, too, but that market hasn’t developed at all yet. It could happen fast in Florida, though, so don’t blink.

Relief Pitchers
Fernando Rodney
Joaquin Benoit
Grant Balfour
John Axford
Kyle Farnsworth
Oliver Perez
David Aardsma
Matt Albers
Rafael Betancourt
Matt Thornton
Jose Veras
Juan Gutierrez
Frank Francisco
J.P. Howell
Francisco Rodriguez

Trade Possibilties
Steve Cishek
Jim Henderson
Dale Thayer

I don’t get the sense, judging from what I am hearing and what others are reporting, that anything is close as Sunday turns to Monday. The meetings only last four days, and it’s really three, plus the Rule 5 Draft, as many executives head home during Day 4.

Don’t be surprised if one of the extremes occurs regarding the Mariners. They could pop three or four major transactions, or they could fly home Thursday without completing anything but making the Cano signing official.

That doesn’t mean the ensuing weeks won’t be littered with deals, or at least sprinkled with them. And January is always the most underrated month of Hot Stove Action.

Written by Jason A. Churchill

Moi2 The Seattle Mariners and the Winter Meetings

Executive Editor
Jason founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at Inside the Park and covering prep, college and pro sports for several news outlets, local and national, including MLB.com and ESPN Insider. He currently serves as co-host of the Steve Sandmeyer Show on 1090 The Fan, CBS Sports Seattle.

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22 comments on “The Seattle Mariners and the Winter Meetings

  1. rotoenquire says:

    Morrison in the OF is a BAD idea. The M’s just added 2 1B/DH types and not addressed the OF issue at all.

    Reports have it that the M’s are done in the F/A market.

    That means maybe a trade otherwise this is the team we are going into battle with. Without added help the Cano signing makes NO SENSE!! Except to put butts in the seats, that may would for the 1st few weeks but after that the M’s will see another drop in attendance.

    M’s need an OF in the F/A market and another via trade. Otherwise this has been a failure of an off season.

    Smoak and Morrison are the same player so I have no idea what the m’s are thinking. Makes Baker’s article seem more real. Was JackZ just looking at the power and nothing else here?

  2. Edman says:

    Where exactly did this rumor come from? Heyman “spectulated” that Zunino could be available. I haven’t seen anything else that even talks about Zunino.

  3. Snave says:

    I think Morrison hits lefties just about as bad as Smoak does? Morrison’s OPS vs. LHP last year was .491, although for his career it’s .707 (still not very good). Maybe they are interested in him for LF?

    As I understood the blurb in MLBTradeRumors, Heyman was saying the M’s wouldn’t include Walker in a trade for Price but they would consider adding Zunino in a package containing top position prospects.

    So, I’m thinking it might be something more like Zunino, Miller, Ackley and Capps… I just hope they don’t rush headlong into something like this without exhausting their chances to sign a FA SP. The FA won’t be as good as Price, but he’ll probably be a good #3 behind Felix and Iwakuma.

    Spend the money and sign a free agent SP, and keep the best kids.

  4. rotoenquire says:

    With the 3 team deal that sent Eaton to the White Sox. De Aza is available for trade. would not mind seeing him in the OF.

  5. rotoenquire says:

    and now Walker and Zunino, Ackley Capps for Price.. Oh Hell NO!!!

  6. rotoenquire says:

    Please NO on Morrison!!! Only reason to add him would be to do a platoon at 1B Smoak against RH and Morrison vs Left. Would rather see Hart or Choi get his full chance.

  7. mgvernon says:

    Z has stated that a backup catcher or a closer are not high priority items for him. He seems okay going with Sucre as the backup and one of last years relief arms becoming the closer. He seems focused on a right-handed bat first and foremost and I presume a rotation arm at some point. He seems to be willing to pass on Raul due to his being a lefty. Plenty of other teams are after Raul, including the Yankees apparently.

    I’m still hoping for Tanaka. The posting cap of $20M will make it easier for the Ms and they have more payroll space than just about anyone but the Dodgers maybe, but even they are trying to shed payroll via Kemp or Ethier. Peter Gammons at Gammons Daily has an interview with Hiroshi Mikirani the owner of the Rakuten Golden Eagles, which was done a couple of days ago in Boston. Mikirani is a wealthy Harvard MBA and owns Rakuten which is a large, primarily internet business with over 10,000 employees. (Who incidentally insists on all of his employees learning English.) Couldn’t help but wish he owned the Mariners. He said he wasn’t going to post Tanaka but if Tanaka asks to be posted he pretty much would have to let him go. Iwakuma used to pitch for him on the Golden Eagles.

  8. rotoenquire says:

    The rumor mill has the M’s offering Cruz 5 years and 75 Mill. Some are saying it is nto true others are. In either case Cruz turned it down. Which makes me think it is not true guy would be stupid to refuse that deal given his age and the PED suspension.

    Another one is Franklin for Gardner pending a contract extension. Makes a lot of sense on both sides if true.

    If Indians are listening to offers for Masterson. He could be a solid get again with an extension and may not cost Walker to get it done.

    The M’s could retain both Ackley and Franklin and it would not hurt the M’s at all. Teams would need to give a solid piece to get either player.

  9. Snave says:

    Thanks for compiling that list, Jason.

    I’m not spending the M’s money (and I’m sure lots of people are glad I’m not), but I would throw money at Choo despite his splits and get him signed, bring Morales back, sign Buck or Suzuki to help catch, sign Garza for the rotation, sign J.P Howell for the bullpen, and consider signing Balfour or Axford as well.

    If there is a trade that involves any of the top kids, I’d rather it be for a hitter than a pitcher.

    Finally, I hope they can keep Paxton, Walker and Miller. If we’re trading, I’d rather it be for a catcher, like Hundley, or maybe a reliever like Cishek. Guys like that could help the M’s quite a bit, and shouldn’t cost us any of those three kids… or maybe Ackley or Franklin either. Save those three first kids and use them as regulars. Also, it might be better to still have them around July 31. More trade chips could be a good thing then…

    So, no hurry for trades. See what they can do with the free agents first.

  10. rth1986 says:

    Well, he said ONE of Pike, Sanchez and Diaz – not all three. I think that would be an amazing deal for the M’s. Personally, I’d rather they trade Ackley than Saunders though. Ackley would be more useful for the Dodgers since he can spot them at 2B too.

  11. JerryEK says:

    I would hate that trade for the M’s.

    They’d be trading six years of a very good middle infielder, three very good pitching prospects, and Saunders for a bunch of buy-low types.

    Kemp is talented, but he’s signed to a bad contract and is a huge risk in terms of money/performance. He’s more or less a contract dump. The M’s should have to give up much to take his contract (or $18 mil/season). That price would buy you Choo, who is a far safer investment.

    Joyce is a decent OFer, but he’s coming off a down year. Dealing him for Saunders is basically a lateral move:

    Saunders 2013: .236/.323/.397, 1.3 WAR
    Joyce 2013:.235/.328/.419, 1.2 WAR

    Joyce was a good player in 2011-2012, but he’ll turn 30 next season, while Saunders will be 27 next year. Joyce might rebound a bit offensively, but Saunders is just as likely to improve, and is much better defensively and a plus baserunner.

    And Becket would be a waste of a roster spot. He hasn’t been good since 2011, and is a below average player now. He’s worthless.

    In return, the M’s would be giving up a TON of talent. I think M’s fans underrate Franklin. He had a great season last year, and predictably struggled a bit after an aggressive promotion to the big leagues. Despite that, he still was one of our third most valuable player (by B WAR, Fangraphs doesn’t agree). He’s an above average player right now, and will almost certainly get better in the next few years. Pike, Sanchez, and Diaz are all VERY good pitching prospects. They are still a ways from away, but Sanchez was dominant as one of the youngest players in the NW League. Pike is a good prospect. And Diaz has as much upside as anyone in the system. He is the type of guy who could be our top prospect at this time next year. This deal would absolutely gut the M’s farm system, and would only really bring us a guy who is a huge risk and signed to a huge contract.

    That trade is the nightmare scenario right now.

  12. diderot says:

    I think this is the rare Internet-generated trade proposal that actually makes sense. Good job!
    The package to Tampa is more than they could get from any one team.
    Of course, Kemp is a HUGE gamble…but there’s certainly reward to balance the risk.

    Add a DH and one of the FA starting pitchers…and it’s just a matter of piecing together a bullpen.

  13. wsm says:

    M’s, Dodgers and Rays should hook up on a 3-way deal:

    Dodgers get:
    David Price, who they really want
    Michael Saunders, to back up Crawford, Ethier, and Puig

    Mariners get:
    Matt Kemp, at around $18 per year
    Matt Joyce, for RF or DH
    Matt Magill, because his name is also Matt
    Josh Beckett, for dirt cheap, if they think he’s worth having around

    Rays get:
    Nick Franklin
    Joc Pederson
    Tyler Pike, Victor Sanchez, or Edwin Diaz

    This only works if the Rays realize they aren’t getting Taijuan Walker or another Wil Myers deal.

  14. Gibbo says:

    I think Gardner is very good, but I see 6 years of Franklin as worth more than 1 year of Gardner and potentially no draft pick compensation if he leaves. New Yorks OF now… Ichiro, Ellsbury, Beltran, Vernon Wells, Alfonso Soriano and Gardner. Plus they probably need the DH spot to rest some of the aged stars too.

  15. Gibbo says:

    Jerry there is no way I trade Franklin to the Yankees for Gardner, the Yankees would need to throw something else of value back. Does a Maurer + xxx prospect work for 1 year of Gardner? I really don’t know what the yanks need.

    I think Franklin gets involved in a trade for our RH bat we need and Ackley for a decent SP or the other way around, they can the fill out the roster with signing a catcher, Rajai Davis and some BP help. Still would sign Hart too, if he fits in the budget. I like Brett Anderson, but he is just another Bedard, loads of talent and injury proned.

    Is Jeff Smardajza a target? Not sure what the cubs need?

  16. Shawnuel says:

    Eh….just not all that excited about Choo. He isn’t a disaster defensively but he is hardly good anymore, even in RF. He is getting older and he is probably going to be the belle of the ball at the winter meetings, so he will likely cost a bundle. He also seems to get injured a lot. I like the idea of platoons. Ackley with Guti could work. Would like to find a platoon op for Matt Joyce. I like the idea of Cain as well…….although he also is brittle, it seems. I don’t think Franklin will garner Gardner, who has had a 6 win season and a couple 4 win seasons and is only 30.. NYY would have a terrific OF with he, Ellsbury and Beltran. I doubt they break that up. Ichiro will have to be a fourth OF/defensive replacement for Beltran or be traded.

  17. JerryEK says:

    One huge question regards the teams plan wih the surplus at 2B. Ackley turned a corner last year, and has some defensive versatility, but I’m not sure I like him as a full time OFer. And Franklin now is obvious trade bait. Will they deal both? Or keep Ackley in CF, where he could end up being very good if he can build on his solid second half.

    I think a trade involving Nick Franklin for Brett Gardner makes some sense. The Yankees obviously need help at 2B now. They have a bit of surplus in the OF, with the addition of Ellsbury pushing Gardner out of CF and leadoff. But he’s essentially a slightly better version of Ackley with only one year of team control left.

    There are some other names missing from the list of trade targets:
    -Matt Joyce
    -Josh Willingham (great buy-low candidate if he’s made available)
    -Brett Anderson (legit #2 starter if healthy)

  18. rth1986 says:

    I wonder if a Franklin for Lorenzo Cain + Tim Collins would make sense for both clubs? Then the M’s should fill the rest of their needs via free agency: Choo, Hart (or Morales), Colon, back-up catcher, and reliever.

  19. wsm says:

    My wish list:

    RF Choo
    DH Hart
    LF Kemp (for Franklin, Saunders, etc.)
    Guti
    Kurt Suzuki
    Garza (or Colon if the price for Garza gets crazy)
    Benoit
    Freddy Garcia

    Its a pretty ambitious list, but I think the money is there to make it happen.

    I’m ok with giving Ackley a shot in CF. I don’t think he’s that far from turning into the guy Seattle thought they were getting with the #2 overall pick. The outfield defense is rusty, but I expect Ackley to improve on that quickly. They should be working on Guti as a 4 th OF who would be a perfect compliment to Ackley.

    Seattle should limit their trading to Franklin, Saunders, and their low level minor leaguers. That may be enough to land Kemp and not Price, which is fine with me.

    On the free agent front, I’d make Choo a priority. That kind of OBP would be welcome here.

    Bringing Hart in would be ideal as well if the price doesn’t get too high.

  20. ripperlv says:

    It’s time for JZ to shine. Bring on your ‘A’ game dude. Show me what you got.

  21. Gibbo says:

    Agreed… So many potential targets and pieces to trade. I think the mariners need to clear some roster space too. We are sitting at 39 on the roster and still need to add at least 4 or 5 guys. So maybe an early trade clears some space.

    Also I wonder if Lorenzo Cain could fit for us trade him for Ackley or maybe Colby Rasmus or Dernard Span. I would like us to get a better CF and Ackley has way more value at 2B than CF.

  22. Edman says:

    This will probably be the most active Winter Meeting that we’ve seen in a long while. Not just the Mariners, but it seems like all teams are gonna be active. Should be fun.

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