Updated Dec 10, 2013 - 5:18 pm
Mariners notes: In defense of Cano's contract
By Shannon Drayer
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik did the television and radio rounds Tuesday morning and made his first comments about the club's pending deal with second baseman Robinson Cano.
"For the first several years of the contract, even though it is a ton of money, we got a very good value. I think in this particular case it is going to benefit us early. You know, at the back end of the deal, we will see what happens. This kid is a terrific young hitter and is proven, has a great track record, this is why we made the investment," he told on ESPN's "Baseball Tonight".
There has been plenty of Cano talk among both the media and front-office personnel at the winter meetings as many appear to have been caught by surprise by the Mariners' outlay of stratospheric dollars to reel in the former Yankee. Some have called the move irresponsible, but Grantland's Jonah Keri told 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Danny" on Tuesday the numbers were irrelevant.
"I got a lot of criticism for supporting the move, but here's the thing: The Mariners have more money than God. Pretending otherwise is just silly and misleading," Keri said.
Keri pointed to both the national television revenue sharing – which gives each team around $26 million this year – and the Mariners' majority ownership in ROOT Sports as reasons why the team's pockets are deeper than what many perceive. While some teams elected to spend some of the national money before they had it in hand, the Mariners made attempts but came up shy, which, according to Keri, was a good thing.
"They kept the powder dry," he said. "Two years ago, the rumors they might get (Prince) Fielder, that didn't happen. Last year, no big moves. I don't think that just making a splash to make a splash is good, but I share in M's fans frustration that (if) the money is just going in owners' pockets, it's not being spent in any other way, so heck, if you have got a lot of money and Robinson Cano is the best player available clearly, then whatever. He is worth 192 million or 207 million. It absolutely doesn't matter that much.
"Maybe that is blasphemy to say that as a stat head – he's not worth his dollars per WAR – it doesn't matter. He is a star player now, he will be a star player for the next at least three, four, five years. And yeah, he will decline. He won't be a great player when he is 40. Cano is going to help this team. They needed help. They have a ton of money; go for it. I don't have a problem with it."
The Mariners have been very active at the winter meetings, and Keri expects there to be more moves, most likely after the meetings end.
"I think Seattle will be one of the most active teams," he said. "It might be next week that we see a really big shoe drop for the Mariners or somebody else. Because frankly, if you get Cano and nobody else, it doesn't make any sense. Now you are a pretty good team but not a very good team. You can't stop now. I would keep going. Maybe it doesn't happen between now and Thursday but within the next seven days I feel pretty confident you are gong to see some pretty big news."
There are plenty of rumors coming from the meetings Tuesday that could point to what that "pretty big news is." Below is a quick rundown on what we have heard from Orlando.
• One of the more surprising reports:
taijuan walker looks untouchable, but mariners will consider trading top positional prospects for price, maybe even zuninoâ€" Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 10, 2013
On Monday, Zduriencik said that he did not intend to trade Walker. That, of course, keeps the door open to at least the possibility. I can't see him trading catcher Mike Zunino. He is a huge piece of Zduriencik's plan and there isn't a lot of catching available right now. Finding a backup for Zunino will be work enough. I am not saying it couldn't be done, but it would put them in a position of having to make a move, which can be dangerous, especially later in the offseason.
• Another interesting couple of reports have multiple teams showing interest in Dustin Ackley and Zduriencik being open to the possibility of keeping Nick Franklin. I think it is important to point out that the addition of Cano does not mean the Mariners absolutely have to move either player. Ackley, for now, is penciled in at left field, and while Franklin had his struggles last year at the big-league level, he should still be viewed as a valuable prospect and not moved just because he no longer has a position.
At his meeting with the media on Tuesday, Zduriencik said that Franklin could be moved to shortstop or third base. That doesn't mean that he is looking to move Brad Miller or Kyle Seager, but it does mean that they have flexibility with him and are not desperate to make a trade. Could be posturing or we could see them hold on to him and take a bit more time to figure out what he is at the major-league level.
• Other rumors have the Mariners linked to Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison and perhaps ready for round two with Franklin Gutierrez. Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports that Gutierrez is looking for a one-year, incentive-laden contract.
• Finally, we should find out soon if Masahiro Tanaka is posted. Rakuten Golden Eagles president Yozo Tachibana is at the meetings and still undecided if he will post his superstar in light of the new posting rules, which will cap the fee the home club receives at $20 million. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports has a rather comprehensive account of the situation.
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