Zduriencik acknowledged Tuesday that “there’s probably a window to do something” still on the free-agent front, given the number of unsigned players still looking for employment as camps open this week in both Arizona and Florida. “There’s still pretty good players out there,” Zduriencik said. “If you’re looking for offensive players, starting pitchers, relievers, there are some guys out there. But every club has restrictions when you’re at this point of the year. It isn’t often easy for a club just to say, ‘Give me $10 more million dollars or $15 million more dollars.’ It just doesn’t always work like that. Clubs have done their work, made investments and trades, taken on salaries and committed themselves. It’s unfortunate some of these players are still there and that could be related to budget, could be related to asking prices or need. All those things tie into this.”
“Every guy we’re bringing in has a legitimate shot to make this ballclub,” Zduriencik said. “What I’d love is to have some of these guys with track records in the past be healthy and ready to go. That would make our decisions tougher, but also easier because if they become what they were or close to it, it would help us. We’ll give them a chance to make this club. That’s the challenge. There are no restrictions. No one is going to be held back because of contract restrictions or coming off an injury. If you come in here and compete and you’re the best guy to make this club, you’re making this club.” Source: Greg Johns at MLB Seattle Mariners: Preliminary grade (Jan. 15): B Final grade: B+ Key moves since preliminary grade: Signed RHP Fernando Rodney Our initial report card for the Mariners listed their bullpen (which had a 4.58 ERA in 2013, better than only the Astros’ in all of baseball) among their unfinished business. Signing Fernando Rodney was a big step in the right direction there. We can’t credit them for signing outfielder Nelson Cruz yet, though all signs seem to point to that happening. Still, they get a bump here for adding Rodney to fellow free agents Robinson Cano and Corey Hart and trade acquisition Logan Morrison. Source: Cliff Corcoran at Sports Illustrated A Mariners contingent featuring Zduriencik, assistant GM Jeff Kingston, team president Kevin Mather and others will fly to the Dominican Republic on Wednesday. The group will be part of a ceremony opening the Mariners’ new training facility. The new academy in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic is a 24-acre complex that includes three full-sized fields and housing for 80 prospects in addition to coaches and trainers. Also slated to be there is Robinson Cano, the president of the Dominican Republic Danilo Medina and U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, James Brewster. “I know Robinson is going to be there (for the opening of the new academy). He’s going to be part of the festivities. That will be nice, and he wants to be part of it, Zduriencik said.”
Sources:Ryan Divish at the Seattle Times and Bob Dutton at The News Tribune Source confirms Zach Miner agrees to minor league deal with Mariners. Will earn $750K if he makes the majors and can opt out on 6/15. From: Chris Cotillo at MLB Daily Dish
AL West Commentary
Tommy Hanson deal for $2M plus incentives with Rangers is a major-league deal, there’s a good chance that he’ll be the No. 5 starter. From: Jon Heyman at CBS Sports You can pretty much forget about the Angels signing a starting pitcher on a Major League contract by now. Any rotation help they add prior to Opening Day figures to come via Minor League deals, moves that would add depth without dramatically altering the Major League landscape. And so, despite efforts to sign Matt Garza and faint hopes that an established veteran would come at a bargain rate, it’ll be up to the young, cost-controlled trio of Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs to support Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, fortify the rotation and help get the Angels back to the playoffs. Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto, speaking three days before pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training, sounds comfortable with that. “We felt like [Richards] made a very good turn in the second half of the season last year when given an opportunity to start every fifth day, and we’re encouraged by where he’s headed,” Dipoto said in a phone conversation Monday. “Santiago, because we’ve never heard of him doesn’t mean he’s not good. … I know not a lot of people outside of the South Side of Chicago are familiar with him, but he’s pretty good. We’re excited to see him get the opportunity to go out and sink his teeth into a starting job this spring. And Tyler Skaggs is a guy we are familiar with, both from his past in our organization and from his progression through the Minor Leagues as a prospect. This time a year ago, Tyler was a consensus Top 15 prospect in the industry.” Source: Alden Gonzalez at MLB.com (Skaggs is legit.) Comment From John: Are the Angels really going into the season with only two proven starters in their rotation? 180 million invested in the payroll and not enough starting pitching to contend seems like a waste of time and money? Steve Adams: I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Halos add someone like Chris Capuano still (I think that’d be a very nice bargain, personally). That said, they know Richards better than any organization and clearly feel he’s proven himself enough to be in the rotation, and Santiago has a few hundred innings as a starter under his belt.
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
The Twins will be at a showcase Thursday for Cuban INF Aledmys Diaz and Cuban right-handed pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne. Both will sign soon. From: Darren Wolfson at 1500 ESPN Source told me O’s interest in Ervin Santana has increased since Arroyo signed with Arizona. Not sure of intensity, but they are still in on Santana. From: Dan Connolly at the Baltimore Sun Source says Yoon and Orioles are not in agreement. Photo he tweeted might have been a joke between friends. O’s one of five clubs in mix. From: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports
Masahiro Tanaka is getting a crash course in the craziness of the New York media. Check out the New York Post headline about his $200,000 Poodle Flight from Tokyo to the Big Apple: Tanaka, 25, signed a seven-year, $155 million contract with the Bronx Bombers. Under the deal, it will take him less than a game and a half to earn back the cost of his fancy flight. Yankee insiders were worried the team may have another splashy spender like Alex Rodriguez on their hands. “The last thing we need is a T-Rod,” one official said. Source: Dan Zinski at Call To The Pen At this rate, Tanaka’s $155M will be gone by July. From: Jon Heyman at CBS Sports Who knew a $35k moving allowance would be vastly insufficient? From: Darren Heitner I wonder what he would fly if he was the number 1 or 2 starter? From: Keith O’Halloran Mariners’ icon Ken Griffey, Jr. is currently in Cuba on a cultural and sports exchange program promoted by the Educational Alliance Travel agency in Boston. “Baseball is big in my country, and this is a big island,” Griffey told The Associated Press. “It’s the little things we can do to help each other. (An exchange of this type) has a great significance.” Source: Bob Dutton at The News Tribune Citing MLB’s rules governing Latin American signings, Brewers GM Doug Melvin said he could not comment on a report of a preliminary agreement with Yirver Gilbert Lara, one of the top prospects in the next international signing period that begins on July 2. Kiley McDaniel at MLB Scout reported last week that Milwaukee will sign Lara, who is a 16-year-old third baseman from the Dominican Republic, for a $3.2 million bonus. Melvin and other Brewers officials are aware of that story, but said they could not talk about specific players. Lara’s trainer, Jaime Ramos, said the Brewers, Royals, Yankees and Twins are among the teams still competing for his player. “I read that [about Milwaukee] but there is nothing concrete and there are still a lot of teams interested in him,” Ramos said from the Dominican Republic on Tuesday. “We still have to go to the United States and visit some teams. I don’t have 100-percent agreement with anyone. Maybe in March or April, I’ll make a deal.” Adam McCalvy at MLB.com
Comcast SportsNet will announce Jamie Moyer and Matt Stairs have joined its Phillies broadcast team as early as tomorrow. Sources said today contracts are nearly finalized. Sources told MLB.com last week the network had begun negotiations with the pair as replacements for Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews, whom the network declined to bring back as part of its recently negotiated 25-year contract with the Phillies. Moyer, who has worked with ESPN, interviewed three weeks ago. Stairs, who has worked with NESN, interviewed two weeks ago. Comcast originally intended to hire just one broadcaster, but both impressed during auditions. Both are members of the Phillies’ 2008 World Series championship team.
Comment From Ms Fan: Is Seattle still interested in Santana and Cruz? Steve Adams: Yes and yes. I think the M’s are one of the 3-4 serious suitors for Santana that Tim Dierkes reported yesterday, though no firm confirmation on that at this time (otherwise we’d have reported it). Comment From Ms Fan: What are the odds the Mariners make the playoffs? And, if so, is Taijuan Walker AL ROY? Steve Adams: I don’t think the Mariners finish better than third in the AL West with the current roster. I also don’t think Walker will win ROY… there are better candidates in my mind. Tanaka, Abreu, Castellanos come to mind. Comment From Ms Fan: Will the Mariners end up signing Cruz? Steve Adams: I think so, yes… Adam Katz [Cruz’s agent} is likely still pushing for a team to give a third guaranteed year. Personally, I think he gets it. Comment From Legit Question: Why isn’t James Paxton getting the same kind of hype as Taijuan Walker? He was more impressive than Walker. Better stats and faced better teams than the Astros like Walker did twice. Steve Adams: Paxton’s ceiling isn’t as high as Walker’s. Minor league stats are nice, but if reading them told the entire tale of why to like a prospect, scouts would be out of a job, and organizations like Baseball America would crumble. Walker has better tools. Comment From Sewie: What’s the WAR with Cano? Steve Adams: Somewhere in the 5-7 range that you’d expect of an elite player like him. Comment From James: Cruz to the Ms on a multi-year deal a bad idea? Steve Adams: Depends on the AAV. If they can get him at 2/20 or 2/22 or something, meh, not bad. If it’s 3/39 I like it significantly less. Comment From David: If Colby Rasmus repeats his 2013 season, what do you see him getting in FA after this year? Steve Adams: Way too much money, especially given the terrible market for outfielders or free agent hitters in general. $100MM+ wouldn’t be out of the question. Comment From right left wrong: Next Free Agent To Go Where? Steve Adams: Ervin to Baltimore or Seattle.