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December 7, 2009 at 7:27 PM

Mariners, Jack Zduriencik ponder options while awaiting Adrian Beltre decision

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We’re heading towards day’s end here at the baseball winter meetings with Adrian Beltre taking the Mariners down to the wire about his pending decision on whether or not to accept arbitration.
I know there have been reports out there that Beltre has declined, a decision I fully expect.
But he has yet to send any paperwork over to the M’s and until that happens, the decision remains up in the air. We’ll know in two hours, at the most.
On Chone Figgins, I’m now hearing he may indeed appear here at the winter meetings tomorrow so the team can make a big splash with their announcement. He may even be bringing family members with him for the biggest payday of his life. It was originally thought that Figgins would not want to make the cross-country trip here after doing so to Seattle from his home in Florida. The physical took place in Seattle today and the M’s say they’ve yet to get the results back. But like I said, if Figgins is going to be here, then they won’t announce anything officially tonight.
Jack Zduriencik met with us a little while ago and said he’d had some closed-door discussions with teams about possible trades that might lead to something.
First off, let’s get something straight: at the winter meetings, teams can be “in” on one or more free agents and/or trades at the same time. Good teams do that. Fans of those teams have to understand that. I see far too much discussion, teeth-gnashing and time wasted here over the logic of the M’s pursuing a free agent like Jason Bay, as if it’s somehow preventing the team from taking a look at Nick Johnson.
First off, one has nothing to do with the other.
You know who the Mariners really would like to land as their left fielder? No, not Matt Holliday. They really would like Curtis Granderson. And they really would like to secure Rich Harden as a starting pitcher.
But both wishes are out of their control to some extent. Harden could price himself out of their range and force them to go to Plan B.
The Detroit Tigers could ask for too much in a Granderson deal. I’m hearing they might want a center fielder back and a truckload of relievers, both from the major league and minor league level. You might need to get a third team involved in a deal like that. That’s how these things work.
I’m told that the M’s explored the possibility of a Granderson deal in recent days, just as they have also looked into acquiring Tigers pitcher Edwin Jackson. As part of such a deal, the M’s would also seek to acquire catcher Gerald Laird, a guy Don Wakamatsu knows from his days with the Rangers. Might as well try to fill all your needs at once if you’re giving up a boatload of players.
Laird makes far more sense as a veteran catcher than, say, Mike Redmond, who I doubt very much is Seattle’s first choice.
But as you can see, it’s a complicated venture this trade stuff.
And if it doesn’t pan out, you turn to Plan B. If you can’t make a trade, you look at free agents.


In Seattle’s case, they can’t afford what Holliday would be asking for even though on paper he seems to be the best choice,
I’m told many people in the Red Sox organization feel that Bay is essentially the same player as Holliday for a fraction of the cost. That even their stats-crunchers and sabermetric guys aren’t cetain Bay’s UZR numbers for Fenway Park are accurate.
Whatever. Bay has been an option — one option — the Mariners have looked at and continue to do so.
What Buster Olney said today was that he doesn’t THINK the Mariners will go in that direction. And do you know what? He may be right. But it’s his opinion for now and he is not stating it any other way. So, those of you reading his stuff have to make sure you interpret it accurately — as one guy giving his opinion on a fluid situation. I can tell you that if the Tigers make a reasonable proposal to a Curtis Granderson deal then you will never hear Bay’s name mentioned in conjunction with Seattle again. But until that happens, you keep the possibilities open.
I think we’ve lost some of this in an era when fans read every headline on MLBTraderumors.com as if it’s gospel. It’s not. Just because it’s in a headline does not make it fact. It’s trade “rumors” dot-com. Not rumors plucked out of a writer’s imagination, mind you, but more like scenarios that teams are running through. Some fans like to hear every scenario and team thought run by them so they can judge the possibilities for themselves. And we try to give that to you here. We don’t run stuff just because Jon Heyman or Ken Rosenthal had it. And if we do, we attribute it to them as the source and we try to run down the chances of the rumor actually happening.
Also, when we hear stuff on our own, through talking with the team, agents, players, other writers, etc., we give it to you as well.
And when you get it, if we’re going strong on it without attributing it to ESPN or SI or FOX, you can be assured we’ve done our own legwork on it. You can debate its merits or validity, but you’d only be guessing.
So, please, when the next MLBTR report comes out saying: “Baker is speculating a Tigers deal with the M’s for Granderson that may include Jackson and Laird for a CF and bunch of relievers”, remember the context that this blog piece where they got the info was written in. It will help give you a better understanding of what goes on here and how things can change. I like MLBTR.com and the service they provide, but some fans (and writers, for that matter) are not reading it in the spirit it was meant to be read in and are grossly overstating some of what’s out there and placing non-existent limits on what they think teams can do from here.
“I think every move has an effect,” Zduriencik told us. “It’s a little bit like a domino. You’re juggling balls and trying to figure out how everything fits in its place.”
For instance, if Beltre accepts arbitration, then the team won’t need Nick Johnson at first base because Jose Lopez will be there and Figgins at second. Russell Branyan likely becomes an afterthought and goes elsewhere. But maybe Johnson doesn’t want to sign with Seattle, Beltre declines arbitration and Branyan jumps back in the picture.
As Olney correctly said on ESPN tonight, there will be a bunch of deals out there early in the new year. Maybe the M’s wait for some of those. Maybe they can’t afford to try to wait that long at key spots.
Yeah, some of you think Vladimir Guerrero would make a great right handed DH for $2 million. But how are you going to get Guerrero to sign as a DH? All of baseball knows he still thinks he can play the OF. If you’re the M’s, are you willing to wait up until late March for Guerrero to finally see the light and try to land yourself a cheapie signing?
See? It’s not as easy as thinking you can. You have to know you can. Otherwise, you may have to try to snatch some of the other stuff earlier on.
“Timing is a key to everything you do,” Zdureincik said.
And so is understanding the process. There is so much more to what is involved with these decisions than merely crunching a few numbers and saying “I’ll take him, him, him and him.”
This isn’t MLB2K10 and teams don’t have that luxury. If they want the full choice, they have to overpay, either in free agent money or trade returns. Otherwise, the choice is taken out of their hands and they have to cross their fingers and hope.
That is what is happening here. The M’s have a wish list, but they also have realistic secondary lists. They are pursuing a multitude of players here and appear close on some, distant on others and have absolutely no clue on a few other scenarios and how they’ll play out.
So, keep tuning in and we’ll try to rule things out as they unfold. But for now, plenty is still possible with this team. We’ll try to update you on more as it pans out. Most of all, try to have fun with it. Been a while since the Mariners were in on this many guys and creating this big of a stir.

Comments | Topics: Chone Figgins

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