Mariners waiting out slow-moving market
Jack Zduriencik was chatting with a fellow general manager on Monday morning about the slow-moving free-agent market. By the end of the...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Jack Zduriencik was chatting with a fellow general manager on Monday morning about the slow-moving free-agent market. By the end of the day, it wasn't so slow moving.
Pat Burrell signed a two-year, $16 million deal with Tampa Bay. Milton Bradley signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the Cubs. And Jason Giambi supposedly was close to returning to Oakland.
"We were waiting for the dominoes to fall," Zduriencik said. "Apparently, they've started to fall."
Now the questions are if and when the domino effect will reach the Mariners, who still have some obvious holes to fill.
"I'd love to have an outfield bat, and I'd love to have another infielder," Zduriencik said, listing the Mariners' remaining priorities. "And everyone is looking for pitching."
Zduriencik said the Mariners currently have one offer out to a free agent — possibly a relief pitcher, though the GM wouldn't divulge details. Zduriencik added he is "very optimistic" the deal will be consummated.
Beyond that, "we have several discussions ongoing," he said. "We have some feelers out there."
With Burrell, Bradley and Giambi off the market, apparently without much heavy involvement from the Mariners, other free-agent bats still available include outfielders Adam Dunn (who sources say has a strong preference to remain in the National League), Bobby Abreu, Garret Anderson, Rocco Baldelli and Jim Edmonds, and infielders Jerry Hairston (who can also play outfield), Orlando Hudson, Kevin Millar and Sean Casey.
There's also Manny Ramirez, of course, but there is no indication of any Seattle connection there. There's always Ken Griffey Jr., but despite strong apparent interest from Griffey's camp, there's no sign at this point that he's on Zduriencik's front burner.
"I've talked to Brian Goldberg [Griffey's agent] on a couple of occasions, and we'll probably continue to talk," Zduriencik said.
One name to tuck away is outfielder Gabe Kapler, who came out of retirement to have a strong 2008 season as a part-time player for Zduriencik's Brewers.
With just 40 free-agent signings at this point, and 131 players still available, many teams are apparently trying to wait out the market. The reasoning is that in light of the slumping economy, prices will come down as spring training approaches.
"Sometimes it can work to your benefit to be patient," Zduriencik said. "You don't always get the player you most want, but someone might fall to you that you didn't think you could get."
In making decisions on free agents, he added, "you have to balance making your club as good as possible but not doing something that will tie your hands as you move forward."
Zduriencik said the Mariners will hold a staff-wide summit meeting, of sorts, Jan. 16-18 in Seattle to discuss all aspects of the club. New manager Don Wakamatsu and his coaching staff will attend, as well as the entire baseball operations staff, including scouts.
"We'll try to fill them in on why we did certain things," Zduriencik said. "It will run the gamut of where we're at and what we want to accomplish — our game plan, if you will.
"We'll let them know what we're expecting out of them, as well as what we're expecting out of certain players. Everyone will be encouraged to offer their thoughts and opinions on how we can improve."
Monday was the first day for eligible players to file for arbitration. The Mariners have two arbitration-eligible players: pitchers Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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