By now I imagine everyone has seen the tweets and reports that the Seattle Mariners are interested in free agents Nelson Cruz and Carlos Beltran. The club also has been linked to Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp while reports surfaced earlier this month that interest in free agents Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo is not strong. Let’s clear up some of the grey area, and get all the names out there the Mariners have been linked to, according to reports and sources of Prospect Insider.

Bats
In addition to Kemp, Beltran and Cruz, the Mariners have been linked to Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte, free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew, IF/OF Martin Prado and even Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

The general idea that two teams have talked means very little, if anything at all, and can simply mean one club called (or texted in this day and age — yes, that happens) the other to inquire about a player. It doesn’t mean the player is available, it doesn’t mean offers were made and even though no deal has been struck, it doesn’t mean it won’t or can’t happen. It also doesn’t mean offers have not been made — that has occurred in both directions.

Also connected to Seattle: Dioner Navarro is “moving toward a solution,” tweeted Peter Gammons Monday, and the Mariners are believed to have had some level of interest in the switch-hitting catcher … Kendrys Morales is still very much a target of the M’s, but clearly Morales wants to let the market play out some. He was tendered a qualifying offer, so that limits his market as he’ll cost a draft pick. I’m told the player request is at least three years and $45 million, possibly four and $60 million, either in guarantees or via vesting option based on plate appearances. That’s insane … Mike Napoli is certainly a player the M’s like, having showed considerable interest in him a year ago, but it wasn’t reciprocated and the veteran is likely to sign with a contender … I have not heard Curtis Granderson‘s name connected to the Mariners even one single time … Robinson Cano is not an option — it’s sad that I feel the need to add that here, but I do … Corey Hart is on the radar, though he’s not among the club’s top targets at first base, but it does appear the club wants very badly to upgrade at the position … Kevin Youkilis may be a name to keep an eye on if he’s healthy and remains on the market long enough … Wilson Betemit and Mark Reynolds are two other names mentioned, as is Raul Ibanez and Franklin Gutierrez. It does not seem, however, as if Jack Zduriencik wants to “plan” on Gutierrez and trust him to stay healthy … Grady Sizemore is a candidate for a minor league deal if he can show his knee is healthy enough, but he’s not a name I have heard linked to his hometown team as of yet … it sounds like the M’s can trade for Dexter Fowler if they want, though the cost currently is apparently very, very high. I’ll pass, but we’ll see how that situation develops … As for Ellsbury and Choo, the Mariners are interested, but they do not appear willing to become part of a bidding war for either player. Both are Scott Boras clients, so don’t expect a quick, pre-meetings resolution to their situation, but the Mariners could try to jump in after they get another deal or two done on the trade and free-agent markets.

Pitchers
There has been almost not buzz linking Seattle to starting pitching, but they do have great interest in upgrading their rotation. Dan Haren was one option but he agreed to a deal with the Dodgers Monday. Ricky Nolasco, Ervin Santana and Matt Garza have not come up that I am aware of — Phil Hughes has — and it appears likely any No. 4 or better veteran starter will be added via trade, or later in the offseason, as the club is full force after upgrades to the outfield and the 1B/DH spots.

The M’s had interest in Brian Wilson to come in and close, but the Detroit Tigers are set to snatch up the bearded one. Grant Balfour is another closer mentioned, but I don’t see the club being on top of that list, either. Joaquin Benoit, Fernando Rodney, Rafael Betancourt and Edward Mujica could become options as the winter meetings approach.

Mariners players drawing interest
Michael Saunders, Tom Wilhelmsen, Kyle Seager, Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin and James Paxton are the most mentioned Mariners players — Hisashi Iwakuma‘s name comes up, too, but it doesn’t appear anyone is willing to offer the blow-away package it would take. Seager, Mike Zunino and Walker aren’t going anywhere barring such a premium package of young superstars — plural — and Justin Smoak has even drawn a bit of interest since he has so little value.

Dustin Ackley appears to either be favored by the club over Saunders — Merry Christmas, Steve Sandmeyer — or Saunders’ trade value is higher than Ackley’s to the point where his inclusion fills out a package offer where Ackley’s doesn’t.

Erasmo Ramirez and Brandon Maurer are readily available to be included in such a package, but neither can headline a deal for an impact talent, so they’d have to be piece No. 2 or 3 at best.

Carter Capps is a possible third or fourth player in a multi-player deal. I know the Pirates like him a lot, as do the Rangers, Giants and Diamondbacks.

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Jason A. Churchill

Churchill founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at InsidethePark.com. He spent several years covering prep, college and pro sports for various newspapers, including The News Tribune and Seattle PI. Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio prior to joining HERO Sports in July, 2016. Find Jason's Mariners podcast, Baseball Things, right here and follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider.

9 Comments

  1. Snave,

    When we find a way to transfer/migrate over, we’ll make sure everything works out for subscribers for sure.

  2. Message for Jason: I had contacted PI earlier via my Facebook page, and used to post here as Mackie. I was finally able to get a WordPress account after several months of trying, and will have to post here now as Snave, but I wanted you to know, for lifetime membership purposes and all, Mackie and Snave are the same person. Thanks much! John Evans aka Snave

  3. This is probably just wishful thinking but I do wonder if they are holding back to see what happens with Tanaka. Hopefully the posting system will be revised and approved next week and everyone will be able to see where he’s going and the other dominoes can start to fall. The next two weeks should be interesting, what with the winter meeting taking place and teams doing their Christmas shopping.

  4. I really thought the M’s would be tied to some of the middling free agents signed so far, but they haven’t at least as far as I can tell. I kinda expected the M’s to be in on Chris Young and Nolasco. Not that I care that much. But too me, it says the M’s are going to be in on some high ticket players this winter. I wonder if they might go for Colon/Hughes or they are going to make a play for Tanaka. Nice blog JC.

  5. I really like the idea of Navarro… I can’t believe there aren’t more teams lining up for his services: Above average D; switch hitter, competant from both sides of the plate; been with a winning organization… Be a great mentor to Zunino, and probably pretty good trade bait at the deadline or next winter.

    Starters wise, count me in the Hughes/Capuano/Hernandez crew, and no thanks to Garza/Santana/Liriano bunch… Too much risk for the reward of a 3/4 starter.

    If I’m the Ms, if a regular-caliber OF becomes available (Fowler,Rever, etc.) then yes, Ramirez and the low-minors guys are fair game, but Walker et al only are for premier bats.

    Speaking of which… I heard a rumor today the Pirates are willing to make Sterling Marte available, provided giving him up seriously upgrades the rest of the team. HE is the kind of guy I would break the bank for: Young with serious upside and cost controlled… For him I’d definitely be wiling to discuss one of the following packages: Paxton/Franklin/Capps, or Ramirez/Miller/Capps… Hurts, yes, but that is a real talent they’d be acquiring.

    Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving, All!

  6. This is turning out to be a strange offseason market. With midrange guys like Peralta getting surprisingly large contracts, the upper level guys might be a better value. I wonder if Hart and Cruz will sign for crazy money. If so, the M’s should either go all-in (Cano, Choo, Ellsbury) or just continue to build via trade, internal guys, and bargain bin types.

  7. Hart is waiting on a medical report due on December 3rd. He has sent out video’s showing him working out and reportedly looking good in them. He’s lost some weight and feels he’s ready to play in the outfield if needed or 1B. I do hope they get Dioner Novarro, I think he’s an attractive get now. I’d like to see them get two rotation pieces for depth, that hurt us bad this past season. Colon and Arroyo would cost but only on short term deals which limits the team’s exposure. I think they will go where for the money at this point in their careers. So far they haven’t bit for the free agents that have signed early, although that doesn’t mean they didn’t make an offer. The high ticket players are going to take some time, there’s too much money involved and a lot of uncertainty with the Japanese posting hold-up and the A-Rod saga impact on the Yankees payroll availability next year.

  8. Nice update, thanks. I think Corey Hart has the potential to be a great steal in this years free agent market. He is a potential good fit here too. I think Elsburry could be one of our guys too, it’s not going to be cheap. We probably need 6 major moves needed… 2 OFers, maybe 3. 1 decent SP, Catcher and probably BP help to cover what we trade away. I could see these guys all going Franklin, Wilhelmsen, Capps, Medina, Rameriz, Maurer and Stefan Romero too.

  9. It could be an interesting winter. We really have no choice but to put our faith in JZ and company. Let’s see what you got.

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