By Shannon Drayer
With just a week to go before the Winter Meetings take place in Nashville, talks are heating up between teams and free agents and it would appear that some teams may be softening stances on "untouchables" and at least listening to trade offers.
The Mariners are interested in Mike Napoli and had him in town for a visit last weekend. The Rangers and Red Sox are also interested with Boston entertaining Napoli on Saturday, according to The Boston Globe. Interesting to see in that article that not only did GM Ben Cherington meet with Napoli but owner John Henry did as well. This obviously would indicate that they are serious in their pursuit. Serious enough to go the four years most believe it will take to sign him?
Mike Napoli has hit .275 with 54 home runs in two seasons with the Rangers. (AP)
I don't like that he is a 31-year-old catcher. Yes, he can play first but I would like a little more defense there if possible. He falls into that logjam first/catcher/DH position that yes, they can make it work but he's not a corner outfielder, darnit, and that's what I really want to see. Still, I would be comfortable with a Billy Butler trade and he plays one fewer position, so I don't know why I am not completely on board here.
It is the four years but I don't think the Mariners can afford not to go four if they want him. They are in a situation where they most likely will have to overspend at some point. The key will be to do this with the right player. Is this the guy? I really don't know. If they sign him, great, we will see what happens and if not, well perhaps he wasn't the best fit.
Moving on ...
B.J. Upton has also been making the rounds but his search for a new home appears to be limited to the East Coast, having made visits to Philadelphia and Atlanta.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe had several interesting notes at the bottom of his Sunday column, including word that the Red Sox have had ongoing negotiations with Nick Swisher and that while the thought may be that Miami couldn't possibly trade Giancarlo Stanton, many teams are inquiring about his availability.
Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan takes a good look at the Royals and says that outside of Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar, any of their players could be available for the right price, starting pitching. The Mariners have had talks with the Royals but a stumbling block could be that the Royals are looking for a top-line starter. The Mariners have pitching prospects and that does not appear to be enough, for now. If the Royals aren't able to pry loose a proven arm from another team, the Mariners could all of the sudden become a very attractive trade partner as they still need pitching throughout their organization. Could we see another "old-fashioned baseball trade" like the Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda deal with perhaps one of the Big 3 and Wil Myers? It's okay to dream, right?
Ichiro update: New York looked like a good fit for Ichiro and his agent tells the New York Post he would like to stay. I would be surprised if this didn't get done.