My favorite time of the offseason is here. It’s MLB Winter Meetings. Where the hot stove is roaring, the rumors are spreading, and fake Twitter accounts will be passed as serious news at least once or twice. While several teams will be very active this coming week in National Harbor, Maryland, I don’t expect the Seattle Mariners to be as active. Jerry Dipoto has been going nonstop since the end of the season wheeling and dealing, including six trades in November.
Here is who the Mariners have traded for and signed so far:
C: Carlos Ruiz (acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers)
1B/OF: Danny Valencia (Oakland A’s)
SS: Jean Segura (Arizona Diamondbacks), Taylor Motter (Tampa Bay Rays)
3B/OF: Richie Shaffer (Rays)
OF: Mitch Haniger (Diamondbacks)
LHP: James Pazos (New York Yankees), Zac Curtis (Diamondbacks)
RHP: Max Povse (Atlanta Braves), Robert Whalen (Braves)
They also signed reliever Marc Rzepczynski to a two-year deal this weekend. That fills the need for a late inning lefty out of the bullpen.
So with all the moves and areas of needs addressed what is left for the M’s?
While the M’s have picked up a couple of possible future starters, the hole in the rotation from the Taijuan Walker trade hasn’t been completely plugged. While they have five starters (Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, Nate Karns, and Ariel Miranda), the need for a solid fourth or fifth established starter is fairly obvious. Dipoto stated earlier this week with the weak free agent pitching market that they may need to get creative to find another starter. So, who are some names that may come up during the Winter Meetings?
Doug Fister. Several writers have mentioned that the Mariners are in contact with Fister. This is no surprise to me, as I mentioned Fister as a possible fit earlier this offseason in my Mariners Wish List article.
Derek Holland. A name familiar to many Mariners’ fans. Holland has pitched the last six seasons with the Texas Rangers but has dealt with injuries the past couple of seasons. He is a veteran starter who could come at quite a discount with a nice upside to hold down a fourth or fifth spot in the rotation.
Other notable names are Rich Hill and Ivan Nova. They are probably the best options in the free agent starting pitcher market. While Hill would be an excellent addition to the rotation, his price tag will likely be too high for the M’s liking, and reports are suggesting he might be heading back to the Dodgers. Nova was 5-2 with a 3.06 ERA in 11 starts for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2016 after being acquired from the Yankees. With a weak market his price will likely be driven up just due to the fact of not many other options available.
All signs are pointing to the Mariners being set with their position players. That can change with a single phone call or meeting, of course. The M’s are looking at platoons at first base and the corner outfield spots. Valencia and Dan Vogelbach are set to hold down first base. Seth Smith, Haniger, Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia, and Nelson Cruz more than likely will all see time in the outfield. Smith, Hangier and Gamel at this point will more than likely see the most action. Cruz will be mostly DH with a couple starts in right field here and there.
Expect at some point in the upcoming week, the Mariners are going to be connected to almost every free agent starting pitcher plus any that might be available via trade. Dipoto has done a nice job early this offseason to get their needs addressed before the asking price goes up later in the offseason.
The Mariners don’t have a lot of money to spend but Dipoto has suggested that they have the flexibility to add some payroll if it makes sense. The only way I currently see them adding a bigger contract to the payroll would be a trade for a solid starting pitcher.
It’s the most wonderful time of the offseason for MLB. Sit back and enjoy the week, just look for the little blue check before you retweet a deal or rumor from a writer on Twitter.