Bourn would present interesting option for Mariners
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik continues pursuing every available option to improve his club’s offense and his agenda Tuesday at the Winter Meetings included a sitdown with agent Scott Boras, whose top available client is free agent center fielder Michael Bourn.
That’s an interesting scenario for the Mariners, who previously had been thought to be looking more for a corner outfielder with some pop.
Zduriencik didn’t name names — as usual — when he updated the media Tuesday evening, but acknowledged being open to adding two outfielders to his roster in the right situation.
“It would be great if you could add a speed guy. That always helps,” he said. “And it would be great to add a power guy. If you look at the two things we’d love to be able to do it would be to bring somebody in to be a base-stealing threat and somebody who could hit the ball out of the ballpark. Those would be two nice additions.”
Zduriencik seems intent on adding two veteran hitters, if possible, with first base one option. But with a returning quartet of Michael Saunders, Franklin Gutierrez, Casper Wells and Eric Thames in the outfield, Seattle clearly has room to add now that Ichiro Suzuki and his $18 million contract are no longer on the roster.
“It’s very possible,” he said of signing two outfielders. “I’m not saying we would, but I could see that. Sometimes you get the multiple-position guy [who could also play first], sometimes it’s just an outfielder. One piece may be bigger than the other, that type of deal.”
If you connect the dots, it’s conceivable to see the Mariners pursuing a pricey leadoff hitter like Bourn and then also bringing in a lower-priced veteran with some pop like Raul Ibanez or Jason Bay, both of whom are on the club’s radar and would be available on one-year deals.
Bourn, 29, is a two-time All-Star with the Braves who hit .274 with 42 stolen bases last year and is one of the premier free agents available. A two-time Gold Glove center fielder, he could fit nicely into Safeco Field as another quality left-handed bat.
Do the Mariners need a leadoff hitter, a role handled by Dustin Ackley after Ichiro’s departure?
“I think you just look at options and try to make the club better,” Zduriencik said. “As you go through the whole process this week, you should engage in every opportunity that presents itself. And at the end, you evaluate.”
As for center field, Zduriencik noted that Gutierrez would be the starter there at the moment and he hopes for a strong year from the injury-plagued veteran. But Gutierrez played right field in his early years in Cleveland and could move over if it was a better situation for the team, with Bourn an outstanding defender himself.
That would make for quite an outfield if Gutierrez did stay healthy, with Michael Saunders also a fleet defender who can play any of the three positions. And if Bay or Ibanez were to make the roster as a veteran platoon or pinch-hitting option and clubhouse presence, all the better.
Bourn, of course, will be tough to sign. And he likely will extend things awhile, seeking his best deal in a very competitive market. But if it did work out, certainly an interesting thought for the Mariners and a different way of improving the team.
Even though Chone Figgins didn’t work out, I continue to think that speed is a valuable weapon in Safeco Field, even with the fences coming in this offseason. So we’ll see.