Time for M’s to get ‘creative’ in search for bat

 Another day comes to a close and another option for the Seattle Mariners is taken off the board. According to several reports outfielder Melky Cabrera has agreed to a three-year deal with the Chicago White Sox. It’s expected that the total dollar value of the contract will fall in the $42-43.5 million range according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.

The signing comes literally hours after the Mariners were considered the favorites to sign Cabrera. Reportedly Seattle had engaged in multiple discussions with the free agent and had extended a three-year offer, but were unwilling to budge on adding a fourth year. At the outset of the offseason Cabrera was searching for a five-year deal and was willing to take four years.

It is a little surprising to see the 30-year old settle this early. I for one expected him to hold out for another week to get that fourth year. After all, Nelson Cruz was able to secure a four-year guarantee and he is more or less limited to designated hitter duties. Cabrera is four years his junior and is a capable defensive outfielder despite previous health concerns. Both players declined qualifying offers as well. A look back to last offseason when Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew found multi-year pacts hard to come by, and the outfielder’s decision is easily justifiable.

The White Sox have had a busy past couple weeks as they have also inked Adam LaRoche and David Robertson to free agent contracts. The club also managed to acquire one of the big fish at the Winter Meetings in Jeff Samardzija who comes via a trade with the Oakland Athletics.

What the Mariners were willing to offer Cabrera salary-wise is unknown at this point in time. There has been talks that the club wasn’t willing to commit more than the $14 million annual salary Cruz will receive to the switch-hitter. If they were willing to offer exactly that, $14 million a year, that would equate to a $42 million guarantee on a three-year deal — approximately the contract Cabrera has agreed to with the White Sox.

If the fourth year was problematic for Seattle then a mistake was made. It’s completely reasonable that the M’s didn’t increase their offer with no other club apparently willing to go the fourth year, but sometimes this is what it takes to seal the deal. The Baltimore Orioles were willing to go three years for Cruz but not four. Presumably the fourth year is what convinced Cruz to head west.

The major difference in what Cabrera and Cruz bring to the table is power. Otherwise Cabrera is realistically the superior player. There is some logic to not wanting to have a 38-year old Cruz and a 34-year old Cabrera on the same roster — there are only so many designated hitter at bats to go around. But at the same time, this offseason was supposed to be about 2015. Signing Cruz was about 2015. The structure on the Kyle Seager extension was about 2015 and 2016.

Despite the near-perfect fit between Cabrera and the Mariners, GM Jack Zduriencik didn’t sound all that convinced a deal would get done on Friday.

Right field is the obvious gaping hole on the roster, but there isn’t any reason for Dustin Ackley to simply be handed the left field job either — as discussed by Prospect Insider’s Jason A. Churchill and Alex Carson on this week’s edition of The Hot Stove Report. Austin Jackson should rebound and give the Mariners a much better center field performance in 2015 than they received collectively in 2014.

The problem is that the corners are going to be filled with James Jones, Stefen Romero, and Ackley at this point, and that’s simply not good enough. There’s some upside for sure, but Jones is limited and Ackley still has to prove he can produce for a full season.

So, how exactly could Zduriencik get creative with fixing the outfield? Let’s take a look.

Jayson Werth, RF, Washington Nationals | 2014: .292/.394/.455, 141 wRC+, 16 HR, 4.8 fWAR
The Mariners have already been connected to the Nationals, but that was regarding shortstop Ian Desmond. Despite being projected as one of the top teams in all of baseball, the Nats are looking to make some moves to refill the cupboards. Desmond and starters Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister are all set to hit free agency after this season. An extension for Stephen Strasburg is also looming, and maybe the club wouldn’t mind moving some of the $63 million owed to Werth over the next three seasons.

Werth is coming off consecutive years with 4.6 or higher fWAR and will turn 36 next May. He bats right-handed and owns a career 149 wRC+ against left-handed pitching — exactly what the Mariners are looking for. Some of the power has disappeared over the past couple seasons, but Werth is a solid 20-to-25 home run bat and anchored the No. 3 spot in the Nationals batting order last year. In the Mariners lineup he could be a great fit on either side of Robinson Cano who figures to hit in the No. 3 spot. Werth is a better overall hitter than Cruz who will likely take the No. 4 spot and pushing the free agent signee to the No. 6 spot, behind Seager, would make the lineup all that much better.

The right-hander has predominantly played right field the last several seasons and has some experience in center. He’s about average in right with UZR ratings just below the zero mark in the last two seasons. His arm is also average in right and could easily play in left as well.

The financial side of things shouldn’t be a problem either. Seattle was reportedly willing to take on about $70 million of Matt Kemp’s contract in a potential deal and Werth will earn $21 million in each of the next three years. The problem is Werth’s full no-trade clause and the Nationals willingness to move a big piece of their lineup. What makes this feasible however, is the presence of young outfielders Michael Taylor and Steven Souza who appear ready or very close to being ready for regular big league jobs.

Certainly the right package could get a deal done, but it seems more likely, for now anyways, that the Nats will aim to move a Fister or Zimmermann instead.

Seth Smith, LF/RF, San Diego Padres | 2014: .266/.367/.440, 133 wRC+, 12 HR, 2.6 fWAR
The Padres have been one of the more aggressive teams this offseason with failed pursuits of Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas before finally landing Kemp from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Will Venable figures to play a regular outfield role as well, likely in center with Kemp in right. Cameron Maybin, Rymer Liriano, and former Mariner Abraham Almonte also figure into the club’s outfield plans. One can’t forget about incumbent outfield Carlos Quentin either, who should be healthy for Opening Day. There is some talk though that Quentin could be moved to first base.

Smith was thought to be a potential trade candidate last summer but instead of dealing the outfielder, the Padres locked up the 32-year old to a two-year extension that will pay him $6 million in 2015 and $6.8 million in 2016. The deal also includes a $7 million club option for 2017 with a $200 thousand buyout.

Obviously the Mariners’ goal is to add a right-handed bat and Smith hits left-handed, but he has proven that his skill set can play in Petco Park — one of the toughest parks to hit in. Safeco Field shouldn’t be much of an issue. While Smith is coming off of one good year and has largely been a platoon player for the bulk of his career — he has wRC+’s of 63 and 123 against left and right-handed pitching respectfully for his career — he could still play a fairly regular outfield role for the M’s. He’s average defensively and his arm is adequate for right field. He would also provide some much needed pop to the bottom half on the lineup.

Smith helps the Padres in 2015 and it’s possible the club is not interested in dealing the outfielder after extending him a few months back. While the price for the 32-year old likely isn’t very high, San Diego probably would prefer a major league ready piece in return. Their pitching staff has some depth, but a bullpen arm such as Brandon Maurer or Tom Wilehlmsen could be of interest. Roenis Elias is likely too valuable to deal for two-plus years of a No. 3/4 outfielder, but there could be a match between the two clubs.

The free agent market
While the Mariners do have pieces to move, it made sense for the club to flex their financial muscle as opposed to dealing financial assets. Ponying up the extra cash for a Melky Cabrera looks a lot more enticing compared to dealing a James Paxton or Brad Miller. With Cabrera off the board however, there aren’t any real everyday outfielders on the market. Colby Rasmus and Nori Aoki are moderately interesting options that could play fairly regularly and require reasonable commitments. Delmon Young is also available though he is more of a fourth-outfielder/back-up designated hitter than anything else.

Expect to hear plenty of Alex Rios’ name over the next couple weeks as an option for Seattle. His agent Scott Boras will likely drive the price on a one-year contract to the $10 million range or higher. Counting on Rios to play a regular role with above average production in 2015 may be asking too much. But the 33-year old did past a 3.1 fWAR in 2013 and 4.2 fWAR in 2012 — there is some upside here.

Trying to pinpoint what exactly Zduriencik has up his sleeve is difficult. It’s still very early in the winter as clubs are attempting to figure out exactly what they have and what they need. It’s entirely plausible that the M’s acquire a bat that didn’t appear to be available or was seldom mentioned.

Churchill and Carson tossed around the idea of a potential trade for Bryce Harper on The Hot Stove Report — it doesn’t seem likely — and perhaps the club is aiming higher than a stopgap solution in the outfield. If a Taijuan Walker is to be traded, and there is nothing to suggest that will be the case, the club has to make it count. They shouldn’t limit themselves to just a right-fielder either. If the right left-fielder can be had, go for it. The exact positions can be taken care of later.

Cabrera signing with the White Sox isn’t the worst scenario for the Mariners. Plenty of options are out there and there is no reason to believe Jack Z and Co. aren’t doing everything possible to find that missing piece. Whether or not they are able to execute is the question we will be asking.

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Tyler Carmont

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67 Comments

  1. Jerry

    Saunders trade was a retread but the writing was on the wall anyway. The fact that we got Happ for him I thought was a ok haul. I read on multiple reports that the Jays are picking up the difference in salary between the two players as well. That would also improve the value of the trade if it was true. Do I like the trade no way but I am over it and moving on. I have faith that this team will make additional moves that will help this coming year at least if not wait for next years OF FA crop which is said to be much stronger than this one.

    As you have stated that the Cruz signing while too long which I think everyone can agree with was a good move on the part of the M’s. They have the money now to afford that kind of investment that doesnt kill us as far as payroll goes. Remember when the Figgins contract was a albatross at 8m per year, yeah not so much anymore. We are sitting currently at a projected 120+m payroll right now without another platoon or everyday RF which we are still looking for. We are ok as far as Cruz is concerned.

    I agree with what kaehlaone has said about the M’s offseason rating. A solid B on the grading scale. You have to take into account the moves not made as well as the ones that were made. You cant compare other teams trades to what we have though it doesnt work that way. Those teams may have wanted those players specifically and didnt like what we had to offer. There are many ways a trade doesnt work but only one way it will work.

    While we have the talent to pretty much get any player we want (with few exceptions) I am glad that JZ hasnt gutted the farm which he and Mac (scouting director) have built over the past 5+ years. He hasnt (knocking on wood as I type) pulled a previous regime move and gutted it for one player and I have to give him credit where it is due. Is he perfect no he is not but I feel since the trade deadline last year he has been a different GM for the M’s than I thought he was heading and I am surprised by that.

    Sorry for the novel,
    Cheers Nighthawk180

  2. Kaehlaone,

    I don’t want to rehash why Cruz and the Saunders trade were bad. But they aren’t exactly brilliant moves by a creative GM. Cruz only makes sense relative to the absolutely putrid production the M’s have gotten from the DH spot. Cruz makes us better, but he’s not going to repeat what he did last season, and we overpaid even for those 2 good years you mentioned. The Saunders trade was just a completely idiotic move, period. No matter how you justify it, we traded a younger, cheaper, better player at a position of need for lesser talent that costs more. Whenever you make a trade that ends with you paying more for less production, its hard to get too excited.

    The Saunders signing made sense for both sides, but its not exactly a stroke of genius. That move doesn’t make us any better for the next few years, as Seager was under team control. Its a no-brainer move that most teams would make. The reason why I didn’t include it was because the extension doesn’t help us in the W/L column, at least not in the near future.

    Ruggiano is the only transaction we’ve made this offseason that isn’t negative. He’s a useful player, but he’s a guy that isn’t going to get a ton of playing time. The best thing about this is that it makes it less likely Jack will acquire Dayan Viciedo.

    I realize that my negative reaction to this has a ton to do with the timing and circumstances. There were all sorts of rumors that the M’s were close to acquiring an OFer, Wil Meyers was rumored to be on the move, and lots of other teams are making really interesting and aggressive trades. Then the M’s add Justin Ruggiano. Extremely anticlimatic.

  3. Or his father.

  4. I was hoping for Van Slyke but atlas….. I think Seth Smith would be a nice addition now. Cobly Rasmus, I don’t think we need his negative attitude and lousy OBP.

  5. There’s just no pleasing you Jerry..goodness gracious. This is the “first good move all winter”…come on now.

    I know you are going to beat the drum of the Cruz contract being too long, we all would have rather seen 3yrs, but you aren’t getting Cruz at that. It’s the cost of doing business. The hope is that what you get the first couple years is worth the downside on the back…I think that risk was worth the reward. Let’s be real, four years isn’t gonna kill us anyway on that deal if he fell off a cliff. Which I don’t think he will.

    Obviously, we know how we hear that Saunders was our “best” outfielder but the fact is that he is consistently injured, fluke or not. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses at some point. I don’t think JA Happ is the 2nd coming of anything but I think we could get a very good year from him and if Saunders gets injured again, maybe more than Saunders. We lose 2yrs of control for 1yr of control but not a terrible move…just not a great one.

    The signing of Seager longterm was a very good move at very realistic money. I don’t know that you could have an issue with that but if you do, I would vehemently disagree. I also think that non moves like not giving Melky Cabrera 4yrs and holding onto our young talent instead of moving for rentals are indirect good moves.

    The acquisition of Justin Ruggiano, while not an impact move, fits this team very well. I am sure they plan to play a platoon partner with him in RF whether thru acquistion or perhaps internally. In any case, giving up a relief arm that likely doesn’t ever pitch for us, is a good move as well.

    In the end, I wouldn’t say the offseason was necessarily an “A” by any means but I would grade it a solid “B” in meeting our needs and improving our club. I’m also not sure that this is the end of the moves. I could see us potentially getting a backup catcher that hits LH to challenge Sucre. I could see some sort of player acquired that could give Morrison some days off, particularly versus tough lefties. I could see us adding some relief arms to compete in the spring. Perhaps even some veteran starting pitching depth on a ML deal. In any case, I like how we line up right now and I think it may be even better come Spring.

  6. Ruggiano and Colby Rasmus would make a ton of sense, tho.

  7. Ruggiano is a decent bench player, but not exactly a major acquisition. He’s essentially Chis Denorfia.

    This is the first good move the Ms have made this offseason, so that’s somewhat of an improvement. But I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t incredibly anticlimactic.

    Meanwhile, two players who would be absolutely PERFECT for the team – Wil Meyers and Steven Souza – are rumored to be heading to other teams.

  8. I thought they said Zobrist wasn’t involved in either deal….not sure how he’d fit the Nationals although I like Zobrist alot as a player.

  9. Really Marinermutt? I said from what I’ve heard, I never inferred anything about having “inside information”…good lord! Everyone posting here is sharing information they’ve heard from MLB Trade Rumors, ESPN, CBSSports, MLB.com, TV, talk radio, or some other medium.

    In any case, Justin Ruggiano for Matt Brazis is a good acquisition. I don’t think for a minute that this is the last guy coming in. I would anticipate a LH corner outfielder that they can use in a platoon. I wouldn’t be shocked to see us talking to the Dodgers about Ethier as long as they eat a large portion of the contract and don’t expect a top prospect back. I think we could be just fine with Ruggiano/Ethier or something like that in RF.

    As far as James Jones goes, he is a great pinchrunning option but is best served by starting out in AAA and working on his bat. If someone got hurt he’d be solid insurance but as long as Austin Jackson is healthy we don’t need much in the way of a backup CF on the roster. Just someone that can cover it for a game in case of in game injury.

  10. Looks like Souza is going to the Rays for Zobrist. This could also point to signs the M’s could be getting Desmond in a deal.

  11. Matt Brasus? Spell his name traded to the cubs for Ruggiano from the Cubs. We got a 4th OF. Could James Jones be heading out in another trade? I like the deal. Adds a solid depth bat who can play multiple positions.

  12. You make it sound like you have inside information. Everything you spoke about is on Major League Trade Rumors. That is where all of us besides Jason and Tyler get their info.

  13. I don’t hear Myers going to Seattle at all. I’ve heard the Padres and Rays were working on a trade and that some of the pieces from that trade could be heading elsewhere, but not Myers. I also heard that it was the Nationals that were involved and would be sending Souza to one of those teams.

    Not to burst anyone’s bubble but the name I’ve heard is Justin Ruggiano to the Mariners from the Cubs. He’s a good role player but likely not an everyday rightfielder.

  14. There is a lot more to the Padres deal than what we are hearing. If and that is a huge IF, Myers isgoing to Seattle. There are more parts to this deal than we know. For the Padres to give up Wisler Hedges and Gonzalez and only get Walker back.. Uummm NO.

    Could Jennings or Longoria also be apart of this deal? Longoria to Padres and Myers to M,s? Or is it not a 3 team deal and M’s getting Byrd? A club does not give up there top 3 prospects to get a pitcher who is just back from an injury and only has 2 pitches.

    Hope we find out soon.

  15. Walker for Myers would be a great trade.

  16. Wil Myers is pretty good. Or so I’ve heard.

  17. If they’re actually thinking of trading Walker, the return had better be someone good… :/

  18. LOL, watch the M’s are getting Kemp and the Padres are keeping Myers….

  19. New reports have it a 3 team trade and the M’s will get Myers. Holly crap.. If true this could be huge…

  20. A bit more to the intrigue, from MLBtraderumors.com

    7:29pm: Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets that he thinks the Mariners will announce a trade within the next two to three days. Crasnick tweets that his sense is that it’s a right-handed hitter who hasn’t been mentioned in much previous speculation, which would rule out Upton.

    Hopefully the news breaks soon.

    More importantly, hopefully the M’s didn’t do something stupid! With the Padres moving towards acquiring Wil Meyers, I’m both optimistic (teams are trading guys who would be prefect for the team!) and pessimistic (those teams aren’t dealing them to the M’s!). Hopefully Jack makes me eat crow on this, but I have an ominous feeling.

  21. This maybe a 3 team trade in the works(part of the Padres trade?). Is it Desmond or maybe Bruce. Could find out tonight or tomorrow!!!

    @Kaehlaone
    There is smoke on a trade involving Will Myers to the Padres and it is not going to be a small trade. Myers and BLANK(Carson Smith like player) to the Padres (adding a comparison for what it would be if the M’s were to do this deal.) For Wisler(Walker) Hedges(Marte) and AJ Alvarez(A. Wilson).

    Myers is still among the top young talent in baseball. He had an injury year and his numbers suffered. Saying you can get him for Walker or one prospect is like saying hey Griffey got hurt is 1st full season and slumped lets trade him for Jim Abbott.. NOT!!

  22. As many have mentioned last time we heard rumblings of this sort Montero was acquired. Not trying to suggest it is a prospect hitter involved though.

    Lots of guys out there who would fit the description, will have to wait and see!

  23. I keep thinking that what the M’s do next may be predicated on what the Padres do relative to Tampa Bay or Atlanta. In other words, this explains the hold-up as potential acquisitions disappear from the Hot Stove.

  24. Yet another option off the board with the Rays trading JOYCE to the Angels for a reliever…Paging Jack Z, you going to make a move?

  25. Jerry, I am very much on the Souza train with you but I am not sure why the Nationals would trade him. I am sure they would rather trade Werth and wait for Span’s contract to expire at the end of the year. Then replace them with Souza and Taylor. I doubt they’d trade Souza for less than Miller.

  26. The Ms are rapidly losing the game of musical chairs.

    I still think Colby Rasmus makes a ton of sense.

    I also see the Red Sox and Nats as great trade fits. Steven Souza makes so much sense, its ridiculous.

    The smart teams in baseball are making moves to improve their rosters. We overpaid for a DH, and made a bad trade that actually undermined one of our biggest weakness. I know there is still time, but this doesn’t make a bit of sense to me.

  27. Myers has a ROY season under his belt and at least 3-4 years of team control (off hand). A cost controlled asset is even more valuable to the Rays. Walker and Peterson may be a hypothetical asking price, but I’d think it gets done for less than that since Myers is coming off a poor year. But there’s no reason for TB to sell low on him. Still plenty of talent, could take another step forward in ’15.

  28. I forget who said it, but I love the line: KC can afford to pay Rios and Morales $28M over the next two years, but didn’t have enough money for James Shields. I’m sure Morales will be better in ’15, but that’s a huge if. Rios is an enigma of sorts. Who knows what we see next year.

    Morse is off the board too. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Aoki and Rasmus signed before Christmas.

  29. On Bruce, there’s a link from Churchill in the post, too — https://prospectinsider.com/outfielder-rumors-tomas-joyce-kemp-bruce

    There’s still some upside there after a down year. Depends on whether or not the Reds are willing to move him and what the ask is. CIN looks more like a retooling club after dealing a couple starters, but they are really looking for a middle of the order bat, something SEA doesn’t have to offer.

  30. On Fowler — https://prospectinsider.com/fowler-could-be-a-fit-for-the-ms

    Consensus seems to be a reliever and a lesser prospect would get it done. He’s a free agent in one-year, probably not good enough for a QO. Houston has less need for relief though after signing Gregerson and Neshak. Still, nobody turns down young pitching.

  31. Why would it take Walker and Peterson to get Myers who was hurt/terrible last year? Just asking a legit question as it sounds like a major overpay to me. I don’t mind the idea of Colby Rasmus as he definately has talent. I don’t see why we’d give up two guys to facilitate Upton to the Padres in order to get a platoon bat in Smith. Also, Edison Volquez is terrible…T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E!!

  32. Meyers for Walker would not happen… Myers for Paxton, Peterson is more what th asking price would be. I have mentioned Bruce in other postings. He is not that expensive and off a bad year. Still would take one solid core prospect and 2-3 lower prospects at most.

  33. It would take alot more than walker to land meyers. What would it take to get fowler from houston

  34. Would making a play for a guy like Jay Bruce constitute a ‘creative’ play? The past 5 years he has posted WARs of 4.9, 3.0, 2.1, 4.0 and -1.1. He turns 28 in April and is signed through 2016 with an option year. Some opportunity to buy low on him, good power guy that plays average defense.

  35. Trade Taijuan Walker to Tampa Bay for Wil Myers. Sign Edinson Volquez 2 years $24 million

  36. It seems as though Matt Joyce’s name has been bandied about as someone the Rays would let go in a trade. That dude MASHES RH pitching. A platoon with him and ? might be sweet. Was going to say Kyle Blanks but he just got signed this morning.

  37. There goes Rios!!

    Side note RHP Anthony Varvaro who has a career 2.99 over 153 innings was just designated for assignment. Would be a solid add for our pen.

  38. Wow, Rios gets one year 11 million from KC, who is betting on comeback seasons from both Rios and Morales to get back to the World Series. That leaves Akoi and Rasmus. After that guys like Michael Morse are the remaining options. I sure hope Jack has a trade left up his sleeve or Chavez, GUTIERREZ, or worse yet Ichiro will be in RF next year. Not a good idea…

  39. Rios just signed with kc so it looks like a trade is the only way to fill rf unless they grab rasmus fast. 2 year deal makes sense in case jackson leaves next year rasmus could move over to cf. Jack must be on vacation.

  40. IMHO Allen Craig would be very nice addition to this lineup with a very team friendly contract. The ceiling on this kid when healthy is MVP type numbers! Gotta wonder what the. Sox are asking in return if he is available?

  41. “apparently anyone we talk trade to thinks we want to give them Walker, Paxton, or Miller.”

    I’ve noticed this, too. Maybe Zduriencik deserves a bit more credit for NOT being as desperate to dump youngsters as BB, his predecessor. (Now if Bryce Harper for five more years is the target player, then we can talk young pearls for young pearl.)

    Maybe we’ll see the three way deal that gets JUpton to San Diego with the M’s providing one piece to Atlanta and another to the Padres for Seth Smith. The Padres also send another piece to Atlanta. I’m thinking a reliever and decent minor league Mariner prospect going out for two years of Smith coming back. Again, two solid, but not elite young players to the Braves in exchange for JUpton to SD.

  42. @Jerry

    I am a Souza guy big time. His raw power and D, would play well in Seattle and he needs a job on a MLB team. He has nothing more to prove in the minors. Could be had for a lower prospect. Or part of the Desmond trade.

  43. Why is there so much love for a guy like Souza who has like 23 at bats in the majors or Taylor that is a pure prospect at this point? Neither of those seem like options we should be pursuing to man rightfield frankly. I also think Craig is a poor idea as he can’t really field any position and therefore isn’t really a fit. I do like him as a player and I think he bounces back but he’s more of a role player at 1B/DH to me.

    I would rather find established major league guys or a guy that can play the position even if it’s for a year. I personally think the best fit is Marlon Byrd as he can play virtually fulltime and a reasonable rate. You also don’t have to commit to him longterm necessarily. I like VanSlyke in a role on this team but not sure the Dodgers would trade him.

  44. Thinking outside the box, how about Carlos Gomez or maybe even Braun? I’m not sure what they would cost, but I would rather trade for those two (especially Gomez) than I would for Kemp/Upton.

  45. I continue to feel like Nori Aoki is a great fit. He’s a contact machine who almost never strikes out. And more importantly – he carries extreme reverse platoon splits. http://www.fangraphs.com/statsplits.aspx?playerid=13075&position=OF&season=2014

    So – rather than looking for a RH hitting OF to offset the M’s problems versus lefties, Aoki can be a much more economical option. True, he offers little to no power, but with Cano, Cruz, Seager, LoMo and Zunino the M’s have plenty of HR power. That’s 5 guys who project to hit more than 20 bombs, with Ackley and Miller and Jackson likely to add another 12 to 15 or so each. The team is going to hit 160 or so HR and be in the top 5 or 6 teams in MLB in HR… That puts them in a rare position to not need a prototypical slugging RF type.

  46. I think the best options are some combo of:
    Colby Rasmus
    Alex Rios
    Allen Craig
    Steven Souza
    Michael Taylor

    If Bryce Harper were indeed available, I’d unload the farm system for him. He’s a rare talent. However, the Nats would be dumb to deal him.

    Simple solution: sign both Rios and Rasmus. Rios could benefit from reduced playing time. Between Jackson, Rasmus, Ackley, Rios and maybe the occasional Cruz appearance, we’d have good depth in the OF. Plus, it won’t cost prospects, draft picks, or long contracts.

  47. Agreed on VanSlyke but apparently anyone we talk trade to thinks we want to give them Walker, Paxton, or Miller. I think that Jack should tell Washington to lose his number if they really approached Seattle offering Jordan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond for 6yrs of Walker and 5yrs of Miller. That would be insulting and idiotic if I was the GM.

  48. If the M’s could pull off a Scott Van Slyke/Seth Smith type of platoon, that would be nice. Van Slyke sort of a RH Saunders, can play the corners and slip into CF on occasion as well as 1B.

  49. There is some logic to that, but acquiring a quality first baseman instead of an outfielder isn’t going to be any easier. Not to mention the fact that LoMo probably shouldn’t play in the outfield anymore. He saw a few games last year, but he isn’t a starter there anymore. In this scenario any surplus value gained at first base would probably be lost on defence.

    It’s an option, and Craig and Napoli are available. But the club’s preference is to add to the outfield instead of first base.

  50. Craig could play 1st so morrison doesnt play everyday too. Putting morrison in the of would be a big mistake. I think cruz is even better out there. If they could trade for craig and sign one of rasmus/aoki/rios would make a very solid roster. Rasmus would be best as he can play solid of defense in center or right.

  51. @Ken

    Yes Craig could be had for a couple mid level prospects. Many think he will bounce back and be a guy who bats once again well with runner in scoring position. Say a #2 behind Jackson. No speed for the 2 hole. But, his ablility to knock in runs would be an asset.

  52. Trying to get creative here, but could we shift Morrison back to RF and look to acquire a 1B? We have Jones as a late inning defensive OF sub. Granted, there is no longer a premiere 1B on the FA market, but perhaps there is one via trade. That’s assuming an upgrade in RF isn’t readily available.

  53. Dear GonzoBlogger,
    Don’t take my word for it, today Keith Law had some choice words to say regarding Viciedo (who is now readily available for trade after the signing of Cabrera:

    “…now has more than 3,000 pro plate appearances in the United States that tell us he’s just not a very good hitter…

    The move frees the Sox up to shop Viciedo, although they might have non-tendered him had they signed Cabrera sooner. Viciedo has three full major league seasons under his belt, never posting an OBP over .304 and showing no improvement in any aspect of his approach or, really, in any aspect of his game. He’s a DH with some power that he can’t get to because he’s too much of a hacker — a skill set that dooms him to replacement-level status unless he has a miraculous change at the plate. ”

    The guy is a hack DH with some power. He has no business playing the outfield and the occassional home run does not make up for all his offensive woes.

  54. They may be getting tired of his act

  55. I would trade walker, peterson, and mauer plus for harper but the nats would never trade him

  56. Sign me up for a Walker for Harper trade.

  57. Tai Walker for Bryce Harper

  58. Rasmus and trade for allen craig

  59. Some people are having nightmares about the M’s acquiring Dayan Viciedo. Mine is worse. Howard Lincoln calls Jack Z into his office and insists that his GM sign Ichiro Suzuki for a farewell season. Zduriencik responds by signing both the 41-year-old Ichiro and trading a bullpen arm for Viciedo.

  60. In not signing Cabrera it’s obvious that the JackZ’s staff has proprietary formulas for valuing (or not valuing) players in determining $$’s and Years offered. We’ve seen that the M’s have not been players much at all in the upper-middle-tier Free Agency market which in todays terms are those players that are not elite like Cano, PrinceFielder, JoshHamilton, but still get QO’s. Chone Figgins was signed before the QO, but he is a rare example of a four year $30MM plus player signed here. Iwakuma was a risk with great upside, but his salary is more mid-tier even though his value has turned out to be more elite (unlike Figlet). Joe Saunders, Russell Branyan, Casey Kotchman, Miguel Olivo, Aaron Harang, FRodney were/are examples of mid-Tier, one-to-two-year Free Agents signed to shore up pitching or provide stopgap support while the first two rounds of auditioning youngbloods are given enough ABs for the M’s to see their ML potential. Smoak, Saunders, RobJob, AMoore, Seager, CasperWells, Balentien, Ackley were in the first wave and NickFranklin, BMiller, Zunino, Walker, Paxton, XAvery, AbeAlmonte, JamesJones, EricThames, CTaylor, RoenisElias in this second wave.

    In other words, just the fact that Zduriencik was willing to go to three years/ $40ish Million with Melky, especially in light of his PED’s and tumor history, seems to mark a shift in approach. Whether this point in the team’s rebuild is typical of teams taking this approach and very few of the young prospects actually stick is a different point. (In looking at the list above, under JackZ, I grade the hitting development at a D+, pitching development at an A-). The evidence is clear, with so many failed auditions, that the M’s are now done with their painful rebuild where there is an over reliance on young prospects to fill out the lineup.

    This is why I find the next move/s to address the hole in Right Field is so fascinating to watch. If Taylor wins the SS job, then I would rather see Brad Miller worked into the OF mix, than another round of the mediocre outfielders that have worn down the Safeco grass under Zduriencik’s watch.

    Surprise us, Jack!

  61. I think colby rasmus should be looked at as well as rios. Rasmus could be a nice pickup for short terms and provide solid defense in right and play center when jackson is off. He provides a potential power bat as well as the availability to play all 3 spots well

  62. Aoki’s OBP, cost and short commitment are what make him my choice of the readily available, Viciedo would be the worst option IMO.

  63. Can we stop with the Viciedo stuff…good lord. I don’t want him as a starter in RF either but to say he isn’t worth a roster spot is overblown. In a bench role he could provide some pop off the bench from the right side and play corner outfield in a pinch. In the long run it may prove to best that we didn’t go for the 4th year with Cabrera. My personal preference would be the same as mid year last year. Bring in Marlon Byrd to play RF…I believe we were removed from his no trade list and he shouldn’t be expensive.

  64. The two F/A options left are Aoki and Bonifacio. Both would not cost a lot. Could do a 2 year on Aoki and a 1 year incentive based deal for Bonifacio. Sign both for that matter.

  65. Well that sucks! Maybe Jack Z.’s big move is to bring Gutti back and plug him into right field….

  66. I figured Melky would go to a team closer in the East if the M’s refused to go four years. My biggest fear now is Chicago will be looking to unload Viciedo, and the guy isn’t worth a roster spot! Hopefully the team can put a band aid in RF for this year and next year sign one of the big name free agents. Right now the decision to trade Saunders looks REALLY BAD! They should have had his replacement lined up before shipping him off to Toronto.

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