The latest name to pop into the Mariners’ sphere of interest is old friend Mike Cameron, who replaced Ken Griffey Jr. in center field in 2000 and was such a big part of the success that followed.
Cameron has already been an intriguing fallback name this winter, even at age 37. He still has a good glove, and in left field he would contribute to the Mariners’ excellent outfield defense. Offensively, he strikes out a lot, can pop about 25 homers, and gets on base at about a .340 clip. He’s a great guy in the clubhouse and community, with a special rapport with Ichiro. Last year, for the Brewers, Cameron hit .250/.342./.452 with 24 homers and 70 runs batted in.
His agent, Mike Nicotera, declined today to comment on his discussions with any ballclub, but other sources confirm that the Mariners have at least some level of interest in Cameron.
Nicotera was willing to discuss, in general terms, Cameron’s feelings for Seattle.
“Mike loved playing in Seattle,” he said. “He loved the city, and felt like he grew up there as a player. It’s where he became the guy he is now. Seattle is a very special place to him, whether it’s baseball memories, family memories, or a combination of the two.”
Nicotera noted that Cameron has said publicly that in the right situation, he would consider moving out of center field to play left. He declined to say if his client is looking for a multi-year deal. “The teams we’ve talked to know the parameters of the deal Mike is looking for.”
As for a timetable to working out a deal with a ballclub, “We’ve certainly made some progress here, but whether things will go quickly or not, I can’t say,” Nicotera said.
Keep in mind that Cameron is just one of many players being considered by the Mariners. They’ve also been linked to Marlon Byrd, and don’t cross Jason Bay off the list quite yet. So much depends on what happens in other negotiations on parallel paths. Cameron wouldn’t be the power bat so many crave, but the Mariners can either look for that down other avenues, or load up on frontline pitching with the money they have left to spend. Cameron earned $10 million last year for the Brewers but isn’t likely to command nearly that much this year.
(Seattle Times staff photo)