Tuesday, December 10, 2013 @ 4:41pm
As the winter meetings hit their midpoint Tuesday, Jack Zduriencik took a few minutes to join "Wyman Mike and Moore " on 710 ESPN Seattle.
While declining to answer most questions about the story that appeared in Sunday's edition of The Seattle Times, the Mariners' general manager did say that the critical comments made by Eric Wedge and other former employees have not slowed him down or hindered his attempts to make deals at the winter meetings.
"They did what they did and that's their decision, and my decision is to take the high road as best I can," Jack Zduriencik said when asked about the critical comments made by Eric Wedge and other former club employees. (AP)
"I've gotten tons of calls and emails and texts. The rooms I have been in and the people I have talked to, I think have had a little different flavor of it. I will just say that. Players want to play, we are trying to build this organization and I think people recognize where we are at and I think they appreciate that and we are here to do baseball business."
A large piece of that business has already been done with the pending signing of Robinson Cano. According to Zduriencik, the dealings with Cano's representation were much friendlier than portrayed by some in the New York media.
"I had a great time with Roc Nation and Jay Z himself," Zduriencik said. "I thought the camaraderie was fantastic. I think Chuck Armstrong and a couple of other people hit it off. It was hilarious to sit there and watch the nagging and the pushing that happened, but there was really, really nothing negative at all. We made a very, very nice presentation to this player, we paid him a lot of money and he made a decision to move to a different scenario for his career. We are excited about it. We obviously have yet to finalize it, but throughout the whole negotiations it was as professional and as cordial as I have ever been involved in."
With that deal all but done pending a physical that is expected to take place Wednesday, Zduriencik has more work to do in order to fill several needs the ballclub still has. The Mariners have been mentioned as a possible trading partner for the Rays in their attemps to move David Price, but Tampa Bay's asking price is high. Zduriencik acknowledged that there had been talks between the two clubs.
"Yes, we have had discussions with that. I think the decision comes down to us as an organization evaluating where we are at and are you willing to take a short-term deal and give up pieces that were going to be with you for a long time," he said. "That's the debate and a fair question. That's what we are wrestling with right now."
The Rays are said to be demanding prize young pitcher Taijuan Walker in any deal for Price. While stopping short of calling Walker untouchable, Zduriencik made it clear that the organization values him highly.
"He is very well thought of and we really relish him, but I think at the end of the day, my thought is Taijuan Walker is going to be a Seattle Mariner," he said.
"I think at the end of the day, my thought is Taijuan Walker is going to be a Seattle Mariner," Zduriencik said when asked about speculation that the Mariners might trade their prized young right-hander. (AP)
"We will let our young kids fight it out for the middle of the infield," he said.
The interview finished with a series of rapid-fire questions.
What is the likelihood that designated hitter Kendrys Morales returns?
"Now, he's a free agent and he is testing the market and now we are in basically in the same seat that everyone else is," Zduriencik said. "If Kendrys wants to come back here or if we choose to bring him back then we have to negotiate with him like everyone else does. The difference with Kendrys is, if he doesn't sign with us then we will get a first-round pick for him signing elsewhere."
What about the rumors that that outfielder Nelson Cruz turned down a five-year, $75 million offer from the Mariners?
"Inaccurate," Zduriencik said flatly.
What are the odds of Shin-Soo Choo signing with the Mariners?
"Depending on where the dollars end up, there's a breaking point for everybody," he said. "We've made one huge sign. You are not going to be able to go out and do two or three more. That just financially isn't feasible for us. So we'll see what happens. Certainly we have had conversations, but it does depend on where the dollars end up."
How about right-hander Bartolo Colon?
"He had a great year," Zduriencik said. "We like Bartolo Colon and we like a lot of players. He certainly is a guy we have talked to. Where it ends up we will see."
What's the plan for Jesus Montero?
"He's got a lot to prove," Zduriencik answered. "Two years ago when we looked at him coming to the big leagues, putting up the numbers he did, I think we were all excited about what this guy could be. Now that said, I think if you are sitting in my chair, he's not a guy you can particularly count on. He may come in and do what we thought he would do when we made the trade but I don't think you can pencil him in and say, 'This is the guy we are going with.' If he rolls into spring training and proves himself, makes this club and is the player we thought he could be because he is a very talented offensive player? But that is all up to him. Most of this has to do with how he prepares himself and how he is ready to come into spring training."
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 @ 4:14pm
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.
Monday, December 9, 2013 @ 3:43pm
By Shannon Drayer
Again, full disclosure: I am not at the winter meetings this year. I am in contact with numerous people both from inside and outside the Mariners organization, so I will do my best to keep you posted with what I am personally hearing from others and what others are reporting.
• The day started out with the release of a statement from general manager Jack Zdrueincik addressing a Seattle Times article that included comments from Eric Wedge and Tony Blengino that were critical of the Mariners' upper management. People I have talked to are split on whether or not he or the team should have made a statement but I believe it was a move that needed to be made if for no other reason than to allow Zduriencik a chance to try and go about the business of baseball at the meetings. It is hard to say whether or not the article will have an impact on his attempts to sign free agents or make deals. I think ultimately the dollars talk, as do the prospects, should they decide to go that route.
• On that note, in his afternoon meeting with the Seattle media, Zduriencik said that he "has no intention of trading Taijuan Walker." That, of course, leaves the door slightly open because there is always the possibility of someone making an offer he cannot refuse. But for the time being, it sounds like the David Price trade possibility, as we have been hearing it, is unlikely to happen.
If all of this sounds familiar, well, yeah, it is. We have been through this before with Felix Hernandez. The difference now, thank goodness, is there are no national pundits exclaiming that "the Mariners must trade Felix! They can't afford him or their needs are too great to keep him." At last check, Hernandez is not a Yankee and that is a good thing.
Obviously the Walker situation is different because he doesn't have the big-league time or numbers behind him that Hernandez did when the must-trade-Felix talk began but I would be curious to know how Zduriencik views this situation in relation to Hernandez. Is the blueprint the same?
• The Mariners would still like to pick up another starter and the market for the more upper-tier pitchers this winter has been slow to get going, most likely because of the the Masahiro Tanaka situation. MLB and NPB still do not have a posting agreement in place. Tanaka's team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, are less than thrilled with the proposed agreement that is expected to be signed this week. Few believe, however, that they will hold Tanaka back for another year. Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times believes that the Mariners will be a prime suitor.
• On to the outfield. While the Mariners still like Raul Ibanez, signing him is not a priority, according to this post by Greg Johns of MLB.com. My feeling on Ibanez is that he has been the fallback plan should they not sign Kendrys Morales. With the acquisition still to come of Robinson Cano (which is still not official until the physical is taken and passed) they are simply too lefty-heavy to consider Ibanez until other right-handed or switch-hitter options have been exhausted. I would not expect Ibanez to still be around at that point as there are multiple teams said to be interested in acquiring his services.
• About that Cano signing to be. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News created quite a stir with a blurb in his morning article.
"By mid-day Friday, Seattle had heard that some team bid nine years and $225 million for Robinson Cano, so the Mariners upped their bid to $240 million and 10 years before apparently realizing the initial bid had come from themselves, too."
This was not news – although several outlets ran with it as news – rather a bit of snark, which is not out of the ordinary for Grant or most sportswriters. Later in the day, when asked about the comment, Grant tweeted:
@lonestarball more tongue in cheek, but they had bid 225/9 and nobody came close, then went 10/240â€" Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) December 9, 2013
• One final note: Former Mariner Eric Thames has been released from the Astros and is heading to Korea to play ball.
Monday, December 9, 2013 @ 8:14am
By Shannon Drayer
The Mariners released the following statement from general manager Jack Zduriencik Monday morning regarding an article that ran over the weekend in The Seattle Times:
Over the years, we have chosen to take the high road in talking about former Mariners personnel. It hasn't always been easy but we always felt it was important to do so, not just for the club but also for the individual. And in every case, it proved to be the right way to handle things. However, we believe the comments made by former members of our organization that appeared in the Sunday Seattle Times require a brief response.
Eric Wedge, our former manager, criticized our organization, accusing Howard Lincoln, chuck [sic] Armstrong and me of meddling.
Everyone in our organization, including Howard and Chuck, is focused on putting a championship team on the field. We all care very deeply about this team, just like the fans do. We all see when the team is playing well, and when it isn't.
I've worked for several Major League organizations. Our upper management has suggestions and asks questions, just like CEOs and presidents in other organization do, all to be helpful and contribute to the goal of winning. We all want to win as soon as possible.
When there are areas that need improvement, it's my job to ask questions, suggest ideas and give direction to the field staff. When our upper management has questions or suggestions, it's my job to respond to them. I don't believe meddling is a fair portrayal.
One good example is the issue of the Mariners doing extra work last September. That suggestion was mine. Everyone in the baseball department thought this would be a good teaching time to help us improve our fundamentals with a young team, and help set the tone for spring training.
Howard, Chuck, Eric and I met every five to six weeks the past couple of seasons to make sure we were all on the same page. Never once did Eric complain about our communications during those meetings. In fact, we all agreed that this was a good time to offer and share ideas.
Eric approached me numerous times throughout the year expressing his desire for a long-term contract. Even the day before he quit, Eric called a meeting with me and demanded a contract extension.
I can also say that our current statistical analysis group is doing excellent work. Our dedicated staff and the tools they are using are a key component in our decision making process, and are light years ahead of where we have been. I am engaged with their work on a daily basis and very excited in the improvements made.
We have never deviated from our rebuilding plan. We have stayed the course, and we now have a talented group of young players. We are hard at work looking into every option to add to this core group, as we said we would, and we are looking forward to 2014 and beyond.
Sunday, December 8, 2013 @ 11:07pm
By Shannon Drayer
The Mariners should be very busy at the winter meetings as there are still many roster needs to fill. I will not be at the meetings this year but will do my best to keep you posted on what I am hearing and what is being reported from the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel, which will be home to nearly all of baseball the next four days.
The Robinson Cano deal is not official and will not be until he passes the physical. That is expected to take place Monday. I have yet to hear whether or not the press conference for his signing will take place here in Seattle or at the meetings. They could possibly do two with an introductory press conference taking place in Seattle next week. We will just have to wait and see.
Once that physical is passed and the contract is signed, the Mariners can cross "best free-agent hitter" off their list and move on to other needs. Of most concern is the outfield. If the season were to start today, Seattle's outfield would be Michael Saunders, Abraham Almonte and Dustin Ackley. Obviously some work to be done there.
Trading top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker for Rays ace David Price wouldn't be a worthwhile move for the M's. (AP)
Another need is starting pitching.
David Price is available and the Mariners match up well with the Rays provided Seattle is willing to part with Taijuan Walker. I hope we do not see this for a number of reasons, the first being if Walker is my most valuable trade piece I sure as heck am not giving him up for another starting pitcher, let alone for one that you would have for only two years.
This is not Cliff Lee, Part II. Lee was traded for extra pieces the Mariners somehow had in the farm system at the time. This is different. Not only would they have to give up talent but they would have to also give up dollars. All for how many more wins over what Walker could possibly put up?
Another problem with trading Walker for Price would be that you still have a hole in your starting rotation. When I heard that general manager Jack Zduriencik's plan was to add another pitcher I thought it was to fill out the rotation, giving them three established pitchers at the top with two prized prospects at that bottom. If you trade Walker, Erasmo Ramirez is in your rotation and you have lost your depth of starting pitching. There are some good options remaining that aren't going to cost you players. Bartolo Colon would be one of those.
The final reason I don't make the trade with Tampa Bay is simple. Tampa Bay likes Walker and a number of other prospects. You know what that says to me? You are on the right track. If the Rays like those players, the Mariners should like those players. Hang on to them. Or at least don't give them all up for two years of a pitcher.
Zduriencik has also said that it would be nice to add another arm to the bullpen, and I agree. Up until last year, building a bullpen out of nothing seemed to be strength of this organization. Now they need a little help. Last year they got caught short in the depth department. No one was ready when Tom Wilhelmsen faltered. Oliver Perez was a second-half disaster last season and most likely will not be back. They have some nice young arms coming but could use an established arm to if not close at least provide a safety net for Danny Farquhar.
Those pitchers are going to have to throw to someone not named Mike Zunino occasionally and that person has yet to be found. Catcher is another area of concern in terms of depth, and Zduriencik needs to pick up at least one.
Last but not least, after the year of the first baseman/designated hitter roster, the team actually needs a DH. One name you haven't heard at all this winter is Kendrys Morales. There flat-out aren't a lot of teams that need a DH, let alone one they have to surrender a draft pick for. It will be interesting to see if Morales falls back to the Mariners. I have said all along that I believe that Zduriencik has a very specific price that he will pay for him and then be content to take the draft pick if Morales signs elsewhere. I don't think this has changed. I wouldn't be surprised if Morales is one of the later signees of the offseason.
It is quite a list of needs. The good news is that Zduriencik should still have a good amount of money to spend to round out the roster. We should see a trade or two as well. With the number of signings leading up to the meetings there is a good chance we see more actually get completed at the meetings this year than we have in the recent past. It should be a very busy week.
Friday, December 6, 2013 @ 3:22pm
By Shannon Drayer
A look at what others are saying about the Mariners' reported agreement with free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano:
Initial reactions to the news:
• "I was surprised. It just seemed like at some time the Mariners had to do something dramatic here. This was a desperate team in a very good division that really needed offense in several different positions. The best free agent available and they took him from the New York Yankees. I think this is the start of the Mariners moving forward. They obviously have a lot more work to do to surround Cano with some more offensive players, but it has got to start somewhere." – ESPN's Tim Kurkjian on "Bob and Groz"
• "The first thing you think about is the money. I mean, you go. 'Wow. Hold on, 240?' That's a lot of money. That's one of the richest contracts in all of baseball. Then you have to sit back and start looking at why. I wasn't excited about the deal, I said so on our air a couple days ago because I thought you could take that type of money and be able to spread it around. But I think now that I've had some time to absorb it, understand the contract a little more and see where the state of Mariner baseball is at, you had to get a player in there that's going to make other players want to come to Seattle, and you have to overpay for that. And they may have overpaid a bit, but you got a great player in Robinson, and that's the one thing you can't debate is how great a player he is." – MLB Network's Harold Reynolds on "Wyman, Mike and Moore"
• "I think it is a great move for Seattle. Everyone is going to break down the contract in terms of years and money, but you have to think about the cost of acquiring a player. And to get Robinson to leave the New York Yankees you are going to have to outbid the New York Yankees, and that's not easy to do. The question is how much is enough to acquire the player, and I think the Mariners understood that the difference is going to be about $70 million to convince Robinson Cano to leave New York." – Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci on "Brock and Danny"
On the reported length and total value of the contract:
• "This one isn't going to work out very well six or seven years from now, but that is not what the Mariners should be worried about now. They have to get back on the market immediately. This is the time to start to add some expensive pieces and make this organization more viable. I applaud them for trying, no matter how much of an overpay this may be.
• "In today's Major Leagues, all these contracts are ridiculously high. These payrolls are getting way out of control but with TV money, teams can afford this. The Mariners are all in now and that means they need to do more now, and they need to do it this winter, not next winter." – Kurkjian
• "I think in this case the Mariners wanted Robinson Cano more than the Yankees. And right now the Mariners are obviously a better team and a more relevant team at a time when the fanbase had started to check out on them and for a team that doesn't have anybody other than King Felix signed beyond next year and with lots of money coming down the pike in terms of TV revenues. It really was a step the Mariners had to make. There was no guarantee they could convince him to leave, but in terms of a business plan it was a great move." – Verducci
On Cano on and off the field:
• "There basically hasn't been a better player when it comes to advanced metrics than Robbie Cano over the last seven years. When you watch him play you are just dazzled with just how strong he is and how nimble he is. He can play the piano and he can move it, too." – Kurkjian
• "When you look at what he has done, his numbers? Obviously he is going to produce. And he has missed how many, 13 games the last season? You know he is going to play." – Ken Griffey Jr. to Shannon Drayer
• "Robinson Cano is a very durable player. He's a guy who has put up the numbers year after year without missing really any games. You're not going to find his offense at second base anywhere else in baseball. He has one of the strongest arms of any second baseman. I really felt in watching him in the WBC, for the Dominican Republic he became the team leader and he was very deferential with the Yankees knowing it was Derek Jeter's team – in fact got knocked for playing the game not hard enough – but when I watched him play for the DR and he was really the de facto captain, he was in every way a leader on that team and I think you will see more of that in Seattle than in New York." – Verducci
• "One of the greatest defensive players you'll ever see. I mean, he's amazing. You can look historically with him and you're not going to find many guys who can do the things he does. The great range up the middle, to the left, tremendous arm, pivots off the chart. You're going to see that in flawlessness that is amazing to watch every day. He brings it every day. The other thing on the offensive side, you're going to see a great bat. The guy is as good a hitter as you're going to see in Major League Baseball. He's consistent throughout the year, he's going to hit you 30 home runs, he's going to hit .300, he's going to be consistent all year. He's not going to have peaks and valleys where he's hot one week and he's cold for two. That's not how he does it. He does it consistently throughout the year. You can count on that.
"He's a great kid in the community. He understands his place. I think the one thing you'll see from him is genuineness. He is genuine, great human being. I've watched this guy hop on the subway, he's that humble. He doesn't have to fly on the private jet. He handles his money well, he handles himself with class. He reaches out in communities, and he's bilingual. He speaks fluent English and Spanish. I think that's important in today's game and society. I know a lot of people are hearing that he wants to be a global icon, and caught up in all the hype and different things like that, that's far from who he really is about. I think when you get to know him, he is a quality human being." – Reynolds
On the chances of this move catching the attention of other free agents:
• "I think now you can actually say, 'Hey, listen, you want to come play for the Seattle Mariners for the next seven years then you are going to have Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano, two guys who are probably going to go into the Hall of Fame with Seattle Mariners caps on and maybe get this franchise to a World Series. You want to hop aboard that train. We are a lot more attractive today than we were yesterday.' " – Verducci
• "The next free agent may now look at it and say the Mariners are serious. The worst thing you can be is irrelevant. People not coming to watch you and players not wanting to go a certain place and I think that was what Seattle had become, but now they have drawn a really big hitter there. We will see where they can go from there. This has to be the starting point; they can't stop here." – Kurkjian
• "When one guy produces, it snowballs. He can't do it alone, but there will be other moves. It could be an exciting few weeks. He is a proven winner, he has played on championship teams. It can help in bringing in other players. You hope it gets people to say, 'Hey, the Northwest is not bad.' " – Griffey
On protection in the lineup for Cano:
• "It has to be a guy that they can't just sit there and say, 'We don't care, you are going to first base.' That guy could be there in free agency, it could be there in trade, it could be on the team. I am a firm believer that Justin Smoak can do it. He just needs to settle down. You have got to remember that he is a switch-hitter and that is double problems. They talk about Chris Davis; he is Chris Davis. I am not trying to put any pressure on him but he has a good eye and he will hit. He's had four hitting coaches in four years and he is trying to figure it out and trying to please everyone. Just settle down and go out there and have some fun. It's not fun when you are struggling, but it is in there. You don't need a guy who hits home runs behind Cano; you just need a guy who hits." – Griffey
• "Enjoy it. You got one of the best players in the game. You took him away from the New York Yankees, and the team is not done yet, by the way." – Verducci
Friday, December 6, 2013 @ 7:27am
By Shannon Drayer
The team has yet to confirm, but after a morning of reports of the Mariners' talks with Robinson Cano breaking down overnight, there are now multiple reports of a done deal. Bob Nightengale of USA Today is reporting that the Yankees have confirmed that they have been told Cano is signing with the Mariners.
Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes was the first to report (in Spanish) that the Mariners and Cano had agreed to a 10-year, $240 million deal pending a physical that is scheduled to take place Monday.
What happened in the meetings between the two sides Thursday night is up for debate although a source with knowledge of the negotiations tells me the "explosive breakdown" characterized by several media outlets that took place is not accurate. The resulting agreement would seem to back that up.
|• Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci||• 710 ESPN's Shannon Drayer||• Tim Kurkjian of ESPN||• Harold Reynolds of MLB Network|
It is a staggering amount of dollars for any team, but the Mariners have placed themselves in position to make such a move with general manager Jack Zduriencik rebuilding the farm system and going with a large number of cost-controllable players the last two years as well as the new TV deal. The Mariners had money to spend.
And they are not done. Sources tell me that they are still active on a number of free-agent fronts and are determined to land another middle-of-the-order bat. That bat could be Mike Napoli, who they showed great interest in last year. Nelson Cruz has been on their radar as well. Moves still must be made with the outfield and they will attempt to add pitching as well.
Cano is the first domino.
Thursday, December 5, 2013 @ 12:43pm
5 p.m. update: A source confirms that full Cano's representation, including Jay-Z, is also traveling to Seattle to meet with the Mariners.
One thing is certain: The fact that Robinson Cano is making a trip to Seattle means negotiations for the prized free agent are at a new level. For exactly who is impossible to say.
At first look, the fact that the player is ready for a face-to-face meeting with the Mariners would indicate that there is genuine interest. There very well could be, but make no mistake-- in situations like these, an agent wouldn't hesitate to put his client on a plane if it could ultimately make him tens of millions more. This could be a shot across the bow to the Yankees. I think the biggest question in the Cano saga is whether or not the Yankees will blink.
It would be hard to believe that staying a Yankee is not the preference of Cano or Jay Z who owns the agency that represents him. Cano can be what they both want him to be in the Big Apple. The Yankees have drawn a line in the sand, however. They will go only so far for Cano and for now it appears they are not interested in going over $200 million. I think we all understand that the only way the Mariners will have any chance of signing Cano is if they over-pay him. Over-, over-pay him, most likely. Just what are those extra dollars worth to Cano? As I have said before, I don't think it is just a matter of Cano's interest in this case.
This is also about Jay Z's new agency. He needs to make a splash with this client. It would appear that there was some face-saving going on last week when all of a sudden a denial of the initial $300 million pricetag came out. Cano is going to come up shy of that number. That number could be $100 million off. How does Jay Z look coming up that short in his first negotiation? What about $30-$40 million short?
If the Yankees stick to their guns and the Mariners' guns are a-blazing, will Cano and his representation take the more lucrative deal?
At this point we do not know what the Mariners' offer or ceiling is. The ESPN Deportes report indicated that the team would be willing to pay $230-$240 million. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is reporting that Seattle has not offered over $200 million. That's not to say the first number is not right or the second will not go up. It still could be somewhat early in the game. Or not.