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Ex-GM weighs in on Mariners' needs, potential moves

By Shannon Drayer

Jim Bowden, a former general manager and current ESPN baseball analyst, joined "Brock and Salk" Friday to talk winter meetings and what we could see from the Mariners. The meetings get underway Monday in Nashville and Bowden said to expect these meetings to be "crazy."

"This has a chance to be the most active meetings we have seen in 10 years," he said. "Trade talks have been ridiculous from the general managers I have talked to as far as aggressive goes."

The Mariners have been right at the top when it comes to that aggressiveness, according to Bowden, who said that general manager Jack Zduriencik is well aware of the fact that he needs to add offense.

"He's been everywhere, talking to agents for Mike Napoli, Nick Swisher, he has even touched base with Josh Hamilton's agent," Bowden said. "The one thing is for sure, this guy has been extremely aggressive behind the scenes."

Bowden predicted that Hamilton would ultimately come in at $23 million per year, Swisher $11 million and Napoli $9 million and said that the Mariners need to get one of these bats. As for the ever-increasing price tags?

Cleveland-Indians-Shin-Soo-Choo-2
Jim Bowden proposed a deal that would send Shin-Soo Choo back to Seattle. (AP)
"That is just the price of doing business," he said. "I think what is hard for fans to sometimes grasp is how much money these clubs are making now with the recent new long-term extensions with the TV deals and radio deals with ESPN and FOX and MLB Network and all the revenue coming in.

"That is why the salaries are going up and we have seen a pretty significant 10-percent bump in this free-agent market now, and that is just the price of doing business."

Mike Salk pointed out that if the salaries are going up then it would stand to reason that the budgets would need to rise accordingly. Bowden agreed.

"I think that is the point here, we advertise how much the players are getting but we are not advertising how much the Mariners and industry are getting in revenue and that is why the salaries are going up and historically that is the way it always has been," Bowden said. "Any time clubs and owners get a big bump in revenue, normally it is passed down to players."

It should be pointed out that technically that bump has not yet occurred. While it is true that there are new agreements for national television deals, clubs have yet to receive any money from these new contracts and it has yet to be determined how much of this money will go to the clubs and how it will be distributed.

It also should be noted that TV, radio and MLB Advanced Media distributions are separate distributions from MLB's revenue sharing under the CBA. The Mariners are not a team that receives revenue sharing. In other words, the Mariners do not, as of yet, have additional money coming in from baseball. Some clubs will budget for money they expect to come in but the Mariners are a team that traditionally does not spend until it has those dollars in hand.

Away from the free-agent front, Bowden said that he thinks the Mariners need to make at least one big trade. He believes that a package of Kyle Seager, Nick Franklin and Taijuan Walker would be enough to bring Justin Upton to Seattle but said that he would not want to give up all three if he was Zduriencik. What he would like to see the Mariners do is swing a deal for Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo from the Indians.

"These teams do match up well because of the depth of young starting pitching that Seattle has and the fact that is what Cleveland wants back," he said. "You could solve right field, shortstop and you could probably get [Chris] Perez or [Justin] Masterson back as well and add pitching depth. I definitely think that there is a good trade matchup between the Mariners and Indians, I really do. Significant."

He also believes that Zduriencik needed to focus on smaller deals like the Jordan Walden for Tommy Hanson deal the Angels made Friday to improve some of the 18th-25th players on their roster.

With the non-tender deadline being moved up to before the winter meetings, clubs will have made all player decisions relating to payroll before they leave for Nashville. Because of this and the fact that we have already seen a number of trades and free-agent signings, Bowden believes that these meetings will be more about getting deals done rather than setting the groundwork. He expects Zduriencik to be very busy.

"I think there is pressure to make a step in the right direction when you have had the worst offense in the league three years in a row, you need to do something, you can't just watch," Bowden said. "You need to make a trade and you need to get a free agent and you need to do it before the holidays."

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