There 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jason A. Churchill
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