That’s an easy answer, it’s gotten me in front of MLBnetwork’s coverage of the Winter Meetings, I’m constantly updating my open MLBRumors.com tab. I paid for insider status at ESPNmlb. If the M’s wanted to get fans energized and excited about baseball, it worked on me. That the M’s were linked to lots of big names like Matt Kemp, Shin Soo Choo, and David Price is great. Word came across a few minutes ago that the M’s signed right-handed first-basemen/right fielder Corey Hart to a one year deal. Hopefully more deals are coming.
Based on information coming out of Orlando today, the Price and Kemp deals are less likely to happen. The Rays want young first line prospects and plenty of them for Price. Jack Zdurencik has said he won’t trade Taijuan Walker, which was said to the be asking price for the Cy Young pitcher. Further, Price’s agent, Bo McKinniss announced that while Price would be willing to negotiate an extension with some teams, the Seattle isn’t one of them. Thus, if the M’s dealt for him, they are only guaranteed the two years until his free agency. A steep price to pay.
Today the Dodgers announced they’ll likely hang on to Matt Kemp. The oft-injured center-fielder, still in an ankle boot at this time, is owed $21 million a year for each of the next six seasons. It was hoped that for the right combination of prospects the M’s might be able to pry Kemp loose with the Dodgers kicking in a portion of his salary. Kemp would have been another right handed bat who has played center-field, but it remains to be seen whether he could continue playing at his peak level, or if he would suffer a sharp decline, or simply be plagued by injuries.
This doesn’t mean neither of the deals can be worked out, but there are certainly some down-side risks to the Mariners.
However, the news the Mariners have signed Corey Hart is very positive. Hart played right field and first base before missing all of last year recovering from knee surgeries. 2012, the last season Hart played with the Brewers his slash line was .270/.334/.501 with 30 home runs and 35 doubles. Defensively, Hart has been a pretty average player according to both UZR and the Dewan system, with slightly above average range and a slightly below average arm. He also played a lot of 1B after the Brewers lost Prince Fielder in 2012. Honestly, he wasn’t a great defender there.
He does actually present an interesting problem for Mariners, assuming there are no further moves. They could play Hart in left field and move Michael Saunders to right, where Saunders has the better arm. They could decide to move Justin Smoak in a trade, putting Hart there, hopefully a year wiser in the playing first base department. This gives the M’s a somewhat valuable chip to trade., and still leaves a corner outfield spot open for Shin Soo Choo, if the M’s take the plunge on him. There’s still the matter of center field. With the Yankees glut of outfielders, and lack of a second basemen, Brett Gardner may be available (and we now seem to have a raft of second basemen.) The Blue Jays say Colby Rasmus could be available for a pitcher.
Still money to be spent and trades to make, though I’m not always sure Jack Z. knows how to make the right ones. Cano and Hart are in the tank, and both were good moves.