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Kurkjian weighs in on Mariners' offseason options

By Shannon Drayer

ESPN MLB analyst Tim Kurkjian believes the Mariners should be serious in the their pursuit of free agent Josh Hamilton.

"Logically, no team needs Josh Hamilton more than the Mariners do," he said told "Brock and Salk" Friday morning. "They have to add an impact hitter to the middle of their lineup."

Kurkjian, who declared "there is no more talented player in the game than this guy," conceded, however, that the Mariners should proceed with caution should they chose to pursue Hamilton in earnest.

"Is it a worthwhile investment?" he asked. "There is a real danger here obviously with Josh Hamilton because of the baggage he carries and baggage that really nobody else in the major leagues has, certainly no superstar free agent player has, so they're going to have to weigh all of this.

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Tim Kurkjian mentioned leadoff hitter and outfielder Michael Bourn as one player who might interest the Mariners. (AP)

"Is it worth the investment and are we going to be able to keep him as a really good player for the length of that contract? These are serious questions that the Mariners and other teams have to ask."

The .177 Hamilton hit in July was of particular concern to Kurkjian.

"That simply cannot happen," he said. "When you are this talented it raises a red flag. What actually are we getting here? Are we getting a great player every month of the year or a guy who just for one month seems to go away? That is a troublesome situation."

With Hamilton there is a lot to weigh, he continued.

"The injury history is obviously a troublesome situation and that's why you just can't, in this case, wipe away the history of Josh Hamilton because it comes up all the time and that's why it is such a dangerous spot here and yet the talent level is so extraordinarily high," Kurkjian said.

If not Hamilton, how could the Mariners improve their offense? Kurkjian doesn't believe much help will be available via trade. He does not believe that Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez will be traded from the Rockies nor does he think Shin Soo Choo or Asdrubal Cabrera will be moved from the Indians either. With both teams bringing in new managers he does not believe the GMs will handcuff the new skippers by trading away established talent.

He does believe Justin Upton will be traded and is intrigued by his free-agent brother, B.J. While conceding that B.J. Upton has not quite lived up to expectations as of yet he finds it tough to ignore the talent.

Ultimately, Kurkjian believes the Mariners will need to find help on the free-agent market.

"I think Jack Zduriencik needs to look at every offensive component he can find even if it is Michael Bourne, who is a terrific defender, can really run and is a better offensive player than people think," Kurkjian said.

"I think you have to do it in free agency and spend the money rather than trading for established players that are going to cost you an awful lot out of your farm system," he concluded.

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