By Shannon Drayer
While not yet announced by the Mariners, the team has come to an agreement with Jason Bay.
It was rather interesting watching the reaction on Twitter to this news. Yes, it is not Josh Hamilton. Yes, it is not Nick Swisher. Heck, it is not even Nate McClouth. Not a move that is going to inspire too much excitement but I should not have to tell anyone that this deal will not prevent the Mariners from attempting to reel in any of their other targets nor will it block an outfield prospect. It will not cost the Mariners the "seven-figure salary" some reported and as other reporters, myself included, have since been told is not true.
The move will not cost them a player in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft as they most likely will not announce it until after the draft. Someone will need to be dropped from the 40-man shortly after the announcement but there most likely will be fewer teams able to take a team after Thursday, and let's be honest. If some team has been secretly coveting Mauricio Robles for the last few years, well then maybe that is just where Mauricio should be.
Bay may have cost the team Scott Cousins. Beyond that, Bay is a low risk and who the heck knows what return player that it can't hurt for the Mariners to take a look at. Eric Wedge is looking forward to that.
"It's an interesting story, it's an interesting situation," Wedge told reporters today in Nashville. "If you are able to make it happen, you've got to feel good about taking a chance on a guy that's been a great performer at times at the big league level. Add some strength to the right-handed bat. He's a high character guy, hard worker, good person. He's had a tough couple of years. I think that, if it does come through for us, I think it's a great pickup."
Bay will not be handed a job. He is going to have to show something in spring training for the team to keep him. If it does work out he very well could turn into the right-handed half of a platoon in left field, possibly with Raul Ibanez, whom the Mariners are pursuing. The Phillies and Yankees are also interested but a source close to Ibanez tells me it is between New York and Seattle. Hardly surprising. While this deal would no doubt cost more than the Bay deal, again I don't think it would hold them back from any of their bigger targets. They still could add to the outfield or outfield/1B/DH mix. It will not be the final move. Moving on.
On Day 3 in Nashville the Mariners were still being linked to Josh Hamilton, Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. As I said in my previous post they are exploring trade options for other outfielders as well. The Hamilton situation has me absolutely fascinated. My gut feeling is that he ends up back and Texas and if he does then the Rangers played it brilliantly. Think about it. When the Rangers gave him the qualifying offer instead of extending him I think most people (and I am guilty here, too) thought, "Well gee. The Rangers don't want him. They know him best and if they don't want him, I shouldn't go to far for him."
They probably wanted him all along. They weren't going to bid against themselves during the season and the assumptions of others did nothing but drive the market, and most likely his final price tag, down. Bravo, Texas, if you pull this one off.
One other report today I would like to comment on today:
Nothing to panic about here. I do not believe that it was their intent to lock up Felix this fall or even winter. This is something the Mariners plan on taking care of later. Their focus right now is adding to the team. There may have been preliminary talks but I do not believe that they have gone deep into negotiations. Felix is very receptive to a deal but this is not something that will get settled in a week. With Felix returning to Venezuela last week, this most likely will be put on the back burner for time being.