Will Mariners return from Winter Meetings with a new right fielder?

Dec 8, 2014, 7:34 AM | Updated: 8:18 am
With the resources to make another big acquisition but no glaring need to do so, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik is in a strong negotiating position as the Winter Meetings get underway. (AP)

The Winter Meetings are underway in San Diego and I’ll get this out of the way right off the top: I’m in Seattle. While I’ll sadly miss the annual Scott Boras “State of His World Address,” plenty of work can be done these days from just about anywhere. Posts, thoughts and news as it comes or is discovered will be covered on this blog, and all without me having to expense $15 breakfasts of coffee and a danish.

It should be an interesting – and possibly a very good interesting – week for the Mariners. As I mentioned after the Nelson Cruz signing, Jack Zduriencik has put himself in possibly the best negotiating position he has had in his tenure as the Mariners’ general manager. While he would like to make another big move, he doesn’t have to. He has dollars, he has prospects and he has his cleanup hitter, which enables him to step up to the table holding a good number of cards. He has choices, something that makes it more difficult for the teams and agents he is negotiating with. He’s got the cards and he is playing the game.

“Our kids are growing, they are maturing. Now I look at our club and I say we have some nice pieces in place and we are going to continue to get better,” Zduriencik told “Danny, Dave and Moore” on 710 ESPN Seattle last week. “We are going to look at every way we can to help our club, but I don’t think we are going to do anything that basically is going to be earth-shattering.”

“I don’t have motivation to trade our starting pitching right now,” Zduriencik told MLB Network Radio on Sunday.

During the same interview, Zduriencik was asked if the Mariners have enough in the minor leagues to make a big trade without giving up a starting pitcher.

“Yeah, but the question is, am I motivated to do that?” he said. “You trade for a big outfield bat who is a one-year guy … This organization has been through this for a long time now and I think we all of a sudden have our head right, where we can see what’s ahead of us as well as what is behind us.”

Does he want a long-term answer if he could?

“Without a question,” Zduriencik said.

Statements that he doesn’t have to make a move. Statements that he likes and values for the future what he has. Oh, he most likely is going to add a right fielder, the caliber of which is yet to be known, but the impression he is putting out there right now is maybe he will, maybe he won’t. No pressure on his point. It’s up to you if you want to play ball. He could sign Melky Cabrera and hold on to all of his young players. Of course, that could take awhile with talk that the team has been close to a deal since Friday, so hey, Dodgers, if you are serious about getting a deal done, acquiring some of those prospects not named Taijuan Walker or James Paxton that you like, you might want to get going.

You see what is going on here?

The Mariners like both Cabrera and Matt Kemp but are in a position where they shouldn’t have to grossly overpay for either of them. They like Justin Upton at the right price. As much as they like those players, they know they are in a position where they don’t have to land one of them. Having signed their designated hitter puts them in that position. Now there are a number of things they can do. A number of options.

Cabrera, Kemp, Upton are the names we have heard the most, yet it is still tough to handicap which if any is most likely to land in Seattle. Yoenis Cespedes is not a name we have heard much lately. The Mariners have been split about him for some time but will monitor the situation in Boston. There are other names that could pop up as well, names that could be brought to Zduriencik as the Mariners have a number of players that have drawn interest, most notably the shortstops and the majority of the bullpen. There is a chance we could see a combination of these players moved for a younger, club-controllable outfielder.

While landing a right fielder will be the top priority for the Mariners in these meetings, they will also have their eyes open for another lefty reliever – Joe Beimel is still available and the team would like to have him back – and I wouldn’t be surprised if they picked up another starter, someone who can be kept at Triple-A to further shore up depth.

It should be an interesting week for the Mariners.

Date Starting Pitcher
Friday, October 7 @ 1:07 pm Luis Castillo vs. Alek Manoah

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Will Mariners return from Winter Meetings with a new right fielder?