The Mariners announced Wednesday night the addition of four players to the 40-man roster, thus avoiding them being eligible for the Rule 5 draft. The team added right-hander Logan Bawcom; first baseman/designated hitter Ji-Man Choi; outfielder James Jones; and outfielder Stefen Romero. These transactions puts the Mariners’ roster at 38 players. The team had until 9…More
Category: Winter meetings
Lots to discuss this morning after last night’s tweet and blog post about the Mariners and Josh Hamilton being “very close” to a deal. More on the semantics of that in a second, but first, I caught up this morning with team president Chuck Armstrong as he was coming out of the Rule 5 draft. I asked him about Hamilton point blank and he did not deny interest this time.
“We’re still interested in him, yes,” Armstrong said.
He also said the Mariners are not overly concerned by Hamilton’s past issues involving injury and vision problems. The main concern, as always, remains the money and the number of years committed. But on that front, the likelihood that Seattle would have to go more than four years in a Hamilton deal appears to be shrinking.
As mentioned last night by my source, the big key here is what the Texas Rangers do with free agent pitcher Zack Greinke. If Greinke signs with Texas, the likelihood the Rangers would splurge on Hamilton as well diminishes.
And from what I’m told, the Mariners are far enough along in their discussions with Hamilton that the two sides would not need very long to come to a deal. Armstrong has been getting into the finer details of stuff in trying to play down Seattle’s interest.
“We haven’t even exchanged numbers and figures yet,” Armstrong told me, in a line he’s repeated elsewhere this morning.
But that’s largely semantics.
From what I’ve heard, the Rangers and Dodgers haven’t exchanged numbers and figures with Greinke yet, either. But that deal is not expected to drag out too much longer before it gets resolved. When teams and the agents for players talk at these meetings, they often give each other broad strokes of where they’d like to go with a deal before any formal offers and counter offers are made.
The agent for Hamilton, Michael Moye, is said to have told the Rangers they’ll have an opportunity to match any offer from another team before Hamilton makes a decision. So, there is no real need for the Mariners to make him a formal offer right now, knowing that Moye is waiting on resolution to the Greinke affair so that the Rangers can match any Hamilton bid.
But I was told by my source last night that Hamilton is very interested in Seattle and it is “very close.”
The source added that a deal could happen “very soon” after Greinke makes his decision.
“Greinke holds the cards right now,” the source said.More
It once seemed like Josh Hamilton had become a forgotten man for the Mariners here this week as they pursued a host of other offensive options. But I’m now told the talks between the two sides have been a lot more serious than anyone has let on and that they are actually “very close” to getting a deal done.
The one thing holding the process up is the fact the Texas Rangers are also interested in hanging on to Hamilton and remain the most serious Mariners competitor on that front. But the Rangers also remain engaged in a two-pronged battle with the Dodgers for the services of starting pitcher Zack Greinke and would not be able to land both him and Hamilton.
Yahoo! reported that Hamilton’s agent, Michael Moye, met with Rangers GM Jon Daniels here at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and told him he would have an opportunity to match any offer sent Hamilton’s way. But if the Rangers decide to sign Greinke, they would not have enough left over to match any Hamilton offer as well.
That would leave the Mariners, who, the source said, would likely make a Hamilton deal happen “very soon” afterwards.More
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, as I mentioned earlier, is meeting with some agents and teams tonight before the winter meetings wrap up tomorrow morning with the Rule 5 draft. The Mariners don’t expect to be active in the draft, since their roster is maxed out at 40 players and they are only picking 12th.
In other words, unless something big happens tonight — and I’ve just gotten word that it’s not likely anything will — these meetings are pretty much done for the Mariners without any impact pieces being added. Now, that’s not the end of the world, since many times you’ll see the bigger free agents and trades go down after the meetings. In fact, this might be the first year I’ve ever attended a winter meetings where the main stage in the media room was not used to announce any trades.
The only free agent signing in which the stage was used happened this morning when David Wright’s extension with the New York Mets was officially announced. For the Mariners, you had word today that free agent outfielder Jason Bay was on the verge of inking a one-year pact with the ballclub, though that is not expected to be finalized until after the meetings are done.
Zduriencik said this afternoon, in his briefing with Seattle-area writers, that he can’t comment directly about Bay. But he did reply when I asked him a general question about his desire to land a more veteran bat — knowing full well I was thinking about Bay when I asked the question.
“I think we said from the very beginning that if we could come up with a veteran player — preferably our needs would be a corner outfielder, a corner player, a DH, a right-handed bat — it would be very helpful,” Zduriencik said. “So, that’s one of the things that has been on our agenda. It doesn’t limit us, but it’s certainly something that we have focused on.”
Zduriencik said that his team is by no means done trying to improve.
“We’ve had several meetings today with clubs as well as player representatives,” he added. “We have some tonight as well, so we’re just going to continue to push forward and explore every option. And if it leads to a road well-taken by both parties, then hopefully something gets done. Otherwise, you just keep doing it. You keep doing the work and hope something clicks.”
As I wrote earlier, though, in my post about Michael Bourn, it doesn’t seem likely that much will click over the next 15 hours or so before most team executives will check out of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel for good.
“It looks that way,” Zduriencik said. “I think that if you’re looking at some players still out there, the meetings will be over tomorrow. So, unless something happens between from now until some time in the morning, it forces it to go into post-meeting deals if you will.”More
Just got done speaking to agent Scott Boras, who represents some of the game’s biggest players, including center fielder Michael Bourn, who the Mariners have expressed an interest in. Boras gave his annual “state of the union” address to a crowd of reporters in a lobby here at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. When it was done, I walked with him towards one of his meetings and he told me he’d already met with the Mariners and had no more plans to speak with them here in Nashville.
Boras said he plans to continue discussions with the team by phone in the days and weeks ahead.
“I expect that we’ll have the usual follow up,” he said. “We know where they’re at and they know where we stand but I imagine we’ll continue talking.”
The Mariners face an interesting choice in whether to bring in Bourn or go an entirely different route with somebody like corner outfielder Nick Swisher. The pricetag for outfielders keeps on climbing at these meetings, to the point where the Mariners will likely have to hand out more than they’d hoped upon arriving here.More
ADDITIONAL NOTE: Be sure to follow our coverage on Twitter @gbakermariners
Mariners manager Eric Wedge hopes to hear soon that Jason Bay has agreed to a one-year deal with the Mariners. Bay would be used, as we discussed last night, as both a left fielder and a designated hitter if all works out the way the team hopes.
“He’s a guy that we’ve been talking to but nothing’s done yet,” Wedge said. “It’s an interesting story, it’s an interesting situation. But if you are able to make it happen, you’ve got to feel good about taking a chance on aguy that’s been a good performer at times at the big league level. He adds some strength with a right-handed bat, he’s a high character guy, a hard worker. Good personality. He’s had a tough couple of years.
“So, I think that if it does come through for us, he’s a great pickup.”
I asked about whether Bay would be used as a DH.
“Not purely,” Wedge said. “If we can make this work, he can play in the outfield or DH.”
I asked about some type of left-right platoon with Michael Saunders. Wedge, you may remember from past comments, is no fan of platooning young players.
“I don’t think you have to pigeon-hole him,” Wedge said of Bay. “I don’t want to pigeon-hole anybody with that. Especially with our young kids. Let’s give them a chance to play and if it works in that direction, then we can go there.”More
ADDITIONAL NOTE 12:46 p.m.: My source tells me that “nothing is finalized yet” on the Jason Bay front. He apparently has taken a physical already and the Mariners have a six-figure offer on the table, but nothing has been signed off on. So, while it still seems highly probable that Bay is joining the Mariners, nothing is done yet and it’s very unlikely anything will get announced before the team leaves Nashville.
Our annual manager’s lunch session with Eric Wedge ended just a few minutes ago and when we were leaving the ballroom, word came out via Twitter that Jason Bay has agreed to a one-year deal with the Mariners pending a physical.
Andy Martino of the New York Daily News had the report on Twitter. I’m trying to get my own confirmation of the deal and will try to find out more of what the Mariners have planned for Bay. But we pretty much covered it in last night’s blog posts.More
We’re well into Day 3 of the baseball winter meetings in Nashville and the Mariners continue to be the team that is most linked to every available hitter out there without actually landing any of them. One that will not be landed is Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals, unless teams step up their offers to acquire the slugger.
Royals manager Ned Yost would not be talking like that unless he was pretty certain that Butler was staying put. The Royals have talked to several teams about a Butler deal, but, reading between the lines here, it sounds like nobody was willing to step up and meet their rather steep asking price. We got an indication of that from the Mariners yesterday when they suddenly seemed to shift focus from acquring a 1B/DH type and an outfielder and instead are now exploring the two-outfielder scenario we explored in-depth on the blog and in today’s paper.More
Got it confirmed from a source late this afternoon that the Mariners have indeed contacted the agent for Raul Ibanez about a possible return to Seattle for a third go-around with his initial franchise. Ibanez spent last season with the New York Yankees and hit some pretty big post-season home runs for them.
Earlier today, I confirmed through a different source that the Mariners were “close” to a deal with Jason Bay. Remember, being “close” is not the same as being “done” so let’s not pencil anyone into the lineup just yet.
But what the heck is going on? Ibanez is 40. Bay is 34. Not exactly a youth movement.
And then, there was the report by Jon Heyman of CBS earlier today that the Mariners are going hard after free agent center fielder Michael Bourn. While I have not directly confirmed that via a source, I can tell you that Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik did nothing to dissuade me from thinking he was going after Bourn when I questioned him in front of other Seattle writers about whether upgrading with an established leadoff hitter had entered his thought process. Zduriencik actually smiled and wondered aloud where I could possibly be going with the questioning, which had everyone else in the room laughing as well.
Like I said, he did nothing to throw anyone off the trail.
So, is there a tie-in between Bourn and the Mariners shopping for the likes of Bay and Ibanez?
I think there just may be. In fact, if the Mariners do ink an older, lower-cost bat, it will spell the end of the team seeking two higher-priced additions. Instead, the Mariners might choose to go after one prize on the bigger end of the scale — which would explain all the increased chatter we’re hearing about Bourn, Josh Hamilton and Nick Swisher lately.
All along, it’s been assumed the Mariners might upgrade with one new player for the outfield and a second one who could play first base and DH.
But given the pricetags we’ve seen so far — in both dollars and trade return requests — for that plan to pan out, what would stop the Mariners from bringing in two outfielders, one of them premium and the other at a lesser cost? Nothing, replied Zduriencik, adding that it’s a possibility
“Sometimes, you get the multiple-position guy who can play the outfield and first base.”
And for me, that opens up a whole different avenue to explore.
The Mariners won’t sign both Bay and Ibanez. It would have to be one or the other.
But here’s why they would.More
There have been whispers for much of the day that the Mariners might sign outfielder Jason Bay to a contract. Moments ago, I had a source confirm that the talks surround a major league deal and that the two sides were “close, but nothing final…yet.”
The Mariners first tried to land Bay three years ago at the baseball winter meetings in Indianapolis. At the time, Bay had been offered just a one-year deal to stay with Boston because of worries about his prior knee injury. The Mariners figured they could land him on a shorter-term deal, but that fell apart when the New York Mets came through with a four-year, $66 million contract.More