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.
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.
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.
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.
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.