Here is the Mariners’ latest winter league update.
Just got off a conference call with Jack Zduriencik to preview the winter meetings, which begin next Monday in Dallas. Not surprisingly, he was hit with questions about Prince Fielder (even less surprising to me, since I asked a few of them).
In Zduriencik fashion, he didn’t reveal too much, declining even to acknowledge any contact with Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras. (He did say, in answer to a more general question, that he does not currently have any offers out to any free agents, though there was considerable dialogue taking place on numerous fronts).
He did stay consistent to his general theme, which is acknowledging that the Mariners “could use a bat, no doubt about it,” but hastening to indicate, without mentioning Fielder by name, that they need to see how high the bidding goes before deciding how heavily to jump in.
“There are a few options to fill our needs,” he said. “In all these things, you have to figure out where it’s going to end up. Often years are a factor, dollars are a factor, and where you currently stand is a factor. There’s a point with any player where you can go down the road a certain distance, and in the end find out it’s not exactly where you want to go. A lot is up in the air. We’ll explore several options, even via trade, if that’s possible. There are no promises in these things. We don’t know where it’s going to end up, and the other party’s sincere desires. These are all things that need to be gauged.”
I asked him if his prior relationship with Fielder, having been the scouting director when the Brewers drafted him in 2002, would help provide an entree for Fielder with the Mariners. Many analysts have cited that as a reason for the Mariners being a candidate to sign Fielder, and I’ve always been skeptical. While I have no doubt their relationship is good, I don’t think it will be much of a factor in where he ends up. Zduriencik seemed to agree in answering my question. Yet it could get them in the door.
“I’m not sure about that,” he said. “A lot of times these thigns come down to just exactly what a player and his agent view as the best opportunity for them. You have to gauge that on many fronts. I’ve known Prince since he was a young kid in high school. But at the end of the day, Prince or any other player has to do what’s in his best interest. We have a nice relationship. That might, with any particular player, help to open the door and get them to listen. Ultimately, though, we’re all adults and when you’re a free agent going through the process, you’lldo what’s in your best interest, and relationships probably come secondary.”