What’s next as Mariners head home from Nashville?

WedgeIt should be no surprise that there were far more rumors and reports than actual news to come out of the Winter Meetings, which are wrapping up this morning here in Nashville.

The Mariners are flying home without any new players officially under wraps, though they’re very close to finalizing the deal for outfielder Jason Bay. Once Bay is added, they’ll need to make a move to clear a spot on their 40-man roster.

Considering that the big-market Yankees, Dodgers and Mets all depart without making a move — along with a number of other teams — it shouldn’t be alarming that Seattle didn’t make a big splash in Nashville. There were ripples here, but the big action still awaits on Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher and dozens of other top free agents.

There were no blockbuster trades either, though reports arose Wednesday night that the Mariners could be partners in a potential four-team deal that would bring them pitcher Derek Holland from the Rangers while they would give up Jesus Montero or top prospects.

Interesting talk — and no doubt lots of trade ideas been bandied about in the executive suites at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel — but a whole lot of dominoes have to line up for those type of deals to happen.

Jack Zduriencik did engineer a three-team, 12-player deal in his first season with Seattle that brought Jason Vargas, Franklin Gutierrez, Mike Carp and others, so these things can happen. But I wouldn’t hold my breath on this one.

“We had a lot of engaging discussions,” Zduriencik said Thursday before heading to the airport. “I was up late last night ‘til about midnight having meetings. You never know what’s going to happen. So many times a lot of guys come in here with big hopes of things working and you try to go down every avenue. I think that’s what a lot of clubs have done. We’ve heard a lot about three- and four-player deals. They get complicated and I do think clubs are just trying to do their due diligence.

“In the end, when the dust settles and you get away from here, reality kind of takes over and you just decide, OK, this is where we’re at and if we want to make a decision, here it is. That’s why sometimes action happens when you leave here rather than when you’re here.”

Another report emerged late Wednesday  night from the Seattle Times indicating the Mariners were “very close” to signing Hamilton if the Rangers signed Greinke, taking up their available money.

But while Zduriencik declined to comment on Hamilton or any specific free agents, team president Chuck Armstrong told reporters that Seattle wasn’t close on Hamilton and while they had met with him, there’d not even been any financial figures discussed.

Bottom line, the Mariners continue to push for an impact bat and met with virtually every team and the agents for every prominent free agent hitter – from Hamilton to Nick Swisher to Michael Bourn – as well as representative for veterans like Mark Reynolds and Raul Ibanez.

There weren’t a lot of deals done by any teams at these Meetings, but things eventually will shake out, often in different circumstances than those being tossed about in the media.

If I had to guess, my money would be on Swisher eventually winding up in Seattle, with Hamilton going back to Texas and Bourn signing with the Phillies. But, hey, it’s not my money being spent at these meetings, which did see some very high salaries being handed out in the few deals that were done.

So buckle up. The music is still playing as we leave Nashville. Rest assured, every good player will end up somewhere before it’s done. And the Mariners still have all their commodities — their available payroll and promising prospects — to use as best they can.

1 Comment

Why doesn’t Chuck Amstrong just shut the hell up? What purpose does he serve at the Winter Meetings exactly?

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