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<  Shannon Drayer

Mariners may not be out of the Swisher sweepstakes

By Shannon Drayer

All had been quiet on the Mariners front since Josh Hamilton signed with the Angels, but that changed Tuesday as Nick Swisher embarked on a rather high-profile tour of interested teams, starting in Cleveland.

The Indians pulled out all of the stops, putting his picture on the big screen in the stadium and playing up to his Ohio roots (he was born and raised in the area and attended Ohio State University) by running a specially produced video featuring OSU coaches Urban Meyer, Thad Matta and Greg Beals encouraging him to return to his home state.

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Free-agent slugger Nick Swisher has hit .268 with 105 home runs over the last four seasons, all with the Yankees. (AP)
After having lunch with Indians executives, Swisher left with a reported four-year, $50 million deal in hand. He was scheduled to visit with another unnamed team later that day and there was some speculation it was the Mariners. That was put to rest quickly by CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, who tweeted, "The Swisher tour does not currently include the #mariners. get feeling they want to do protect that No. 12 draft pick."

This tweet set off speculation that the Mariners were out on Swisher or that Swisher was possibly out on the Mariners. That speculation may be a bit premature. Sources tell me that while there has been debate about giving up the No. 12 pick, it by no means would be the deciding factor in whether or not to attempt to sign him. The organization has had a number of talks with Swisher's agent and it appears that he is still on their radar.

As for Swisher being out or down on Seattle, multiple sources close to him tell me this couldn't be further from the truth. Seattle is a city he has always enjoyed and the fact that it is close to his home in California very well could be a plus for him.

I am interested to see where Swisher was headed after Cleveland on his recruiting tour. The Phillies, Rangers, Orioles and possibly the Red Sox are all said to be interested. If the West Coast factor comes into play then the Rangers would most likely be the biggest competition for the Mariners. At that point it could come down to years and dollars and this is where the draft pick would come into play. The Mariners would have to weigh the value of that pick along with the years, dollars, need and projections for Swisher.

I have thought all along that Swisher would be a nice fit for the Mariners and wasn't too troubled about having to lose a draft pick for him. My feeling is if Tom McNamara can nab Taijuan Walker with the 43rd pick in the 2010 draft I would have faith that he could work some magic with his second-round pick in 2013.

The one thing that probably needs to be taken into consideration on this matter, however, is while losing that pick for one year isn't a big deal, what happens if the Mariners sign another player who requires their top draft pick the following year? Losing back-to-back first-round picks could have significant impact on an organization that is committed to building through the draft. It most likely would be easier for Texas to give up its pick, which is much lower.

What Jack Zduriencik has to do here is weigh the value of the draft pick plus a player who would require compensation versus what he might be able to add without giving up the pick.

Is Swisher – minus the pick, minus the dollars and years required to sign him – better or near equal to player B, keeping the pick, fewer dollars spent, less commitment and perhaps a complementary player no doubt of much lesser name but who can add wins above replacement if used correctly?

Tough to say with the remaining thin free-agent market and unpredictable trade market.

Michael Cuddyer, Cody Ross, Raul Ibanez and Brennan Boesch are all players that have been talked about. Mike Morse could be an option if the Nationals re-sign Adam LaRoche. The names aren't exciting but could still represent upgrades in the outfield.

The Mariners are focused on a number of players and despite recent reports could very well still be focused on Swisher, too.

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