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December 3, 2013 at 11:20 AM

Hot Stove happenings: A few links and notes

Update 7:05 p.m.: In between discussing how the Mariners are willing to overpay for Cano, the Yankees were agreeing to overpay for Jacoby Ellsbury. As most of you know, multiple reports are out there that Ellsbury will sign a 7-year, $153 million dollar deal, pending a physical. This is more than the 7-year, $135 million contract Scott Boras floated to the Red Sox near the end of the season.

Does this somehow make it more possible for the Mariners to sign Robinson Cano? Yes and no. Obviously, the Yankees have already invested a gargantuan amount of money in Ellsbury and Brian McCann, but there are reports that they still could sign Cano if he were to agree to that the 7-year, $170-180 million contract.

The Yankees do what the Yankees do.

Update 3:44 p.m: Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York, who wrote the story below, had this to say on a phone interview on ESPN.

“It comes down to: “Does Robinson Cano want to be a Yankee or does he want to get every last dollar that’s out there for him? At least people in the Yankees organization believe that the Mariners are willing to go as high $200 million for nine years for Cano, and the Yankees won’t say they go anywhere near that.”

So there is that.

Update: According to ESPN New York, the Mariners have emerged as major players for Robinson Cano. Cano is looking for a contract of $200 million or more, per this story they’d be willing to give him an 8-year, $200 million contract.  The easy assumption from this report would be that the Mariners are being used as leverage. And it’s not wrong to think that. The Mariners do have interest and general manager Jack Zduriencik has met with Cano’s representatives. That’s a lot of money and a lot of years, even for the best free agent on the market. 

So the Mariners’ first move of the offseason is to sign free agent Willie Bloomquist. Judging by twitter, a few comments on the blog post and Dave Cameron’s rather critical blog post, it seems as though people were slightly non-plussed with the signing. It’s understandable. While Bloomquist fills a definite need, the length of the contract, the fact that he’s yet another former Mariner retread and age 36 makes it all a little frustrating for fans. I get that.

Really, the fact that it is the first move and only move so far in an offseason with much expectation is understandably galling to fans. Had the Mariners signed Shin-Soo Choo and  Bartolo Colon and then signed Willie Ballgame, well, maybe it doesn’t generate quite as much vitriol.

To make matters worse, the rest of baseball seems to be making moves hourly in the days leading up to the winter meetings.

Yesterday, old friend Doug Fister was traded to the Washington Nationals for three players, including Steve Lombardozzi. This is a huge get for the Nats with a relatively minimal cost. He’ll join a rotation that features Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman.

Also the Oakland A’s continue to make solid moves in the offseason, signing lefty Scott Kazmir to a two-year, $22 million deal. The A’s also traded for Orioles’ closer Jim Johnson, giving up second baseman Jemile Weeks, who didn’t seem to be in the future plans. Johnson will fill in for free agent Grant Balfour. The A’s also just traded prospect Michael Choice and minor league second baseman Chris Bostick  for Rangers outfielder Craig Gentry and pitcher Josh Lindblom.

Kazmir was a pitcher that would have fit nicely in the M’s rotation and not cost a ton of money. But his signing pretty much ensures that the team won’t sign Bartolo Colon.

The Mariners are definitely interested in Colon and have had discussions. The interesting aspect will be contract length. The A’s were willing to give Colon a one-year deal. But at age 40, he believes he can pitch for three more years. For the Mariners to sign him, they will likely have to give him at least a two-year deal.

Obviously the team needs outfield help. Jacoby Ellsbury’s name has been used often. Scott Boras was reportedly looking for a 7-year, $135 million contract. From what I’m being told, the Mariners think the asking price and the year commitment is a little too high. They are said to be much more interested in Choo, whose asking price won’t be quite as high. Of course, the Mariners had Choo in their system. It’s difficult to say whether his past experience in the organization will affect his decision. Initial reports had Choo and Boras looking for a five-year, $100 million contract.

Expect the Mariners also to look to possibly add to the outfield depth by adding someone like Rajai Davis. No it’s not sexy, but other than Michael Saunders, there really isn’t much legitimate outfield depth on the roster.

Jon Morosi has tweeted about the Mariners interest in acquiring Matt Kemp because of a crowded outfield. There really is no way to gauge the level of “interest.” We’ve heard this often about the oft-injured center field, who signed a $160 million contract before 2012. He’s owed about $130 million still. Kemp played in 73 games last season and a few scouts believe he’s breaking down at a rapid rate. Any trade for Kemp would have to be judged on how much money the Dodgers would pick up on his contract.



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