Bloomquist signs, so what next for M’s?

Arizona Diamondbacks v. San Francisco GiantsThis won’t satisfy Mariners fans hoping for a blockbuster move, but veteran utility man Willie Bloomquist returned to his roots on Thursday as Seattle officially announced his signing of a two-year deal.

Word of the agreement emerged on Monday, but Bloomquist had to complete a physical exam before finalizing a contract that will pay him $5.8 million over the next two seasons.

While Bloomquist isn’t the big-name acquisition Seattle fans are clamoring for, he figures to fill a versatile role for new manager Lloyd McClendon as one of baseball’s noted “super utility” players, having played every position except catcher during his 12 seasons in the Majors.

Here’s my full story on Bloomquist, who talks about returning to Seattle, his role and more moves to come.

As for what does happen next and any anticipated blockbusters? As I noted on my Twitter account this morning, I’m skeptical of how interested Robinson Cano really is in the Mariners and also how interested the Mariners are in Rays pitcher David Price. I know both those deals have been hot on the Hot Stove rumor mill. And I do think Jack Zduriencik is pushing to make a big acquisition and has they money to do some things this winter.

But Cano feels far more like a situation where the player and his agents are looking to create leverage by playing up a competing team for the Yankees. And Price, while a marvelous pitcher, doesn’t seem to make sense to give up the farm  for — including six years of team control of premier right-hand prospect Taijuan Walker — when he’s at the high-end of his arbitration years and then will be a free agent in two years.

Prospects for high-priced proven talent like Price is certainly a worthy trade option, but it makes more sense for the Mariners to trade for offense — given free-agent hitters are reluctant and/or costly when being lured to Safeco Field — rather than pitching, which can be signed far more easily in Seattle’s case.

If you’re going to use Walker as a trade chip, I’d expect it would be for a big-time hitter. Zduriencik pursued that last year with Justin Upton and this year’s big target could be Matt Kemp, who has six years and $128 million left on his contract with the Dodgers.

Kemp is a marvelous talent as well, though he played just 73 games in an injury-plagued season last year with three DL stints due to ankle, shoulder and hamstring issues. But that’s one of the reasons Kemp is available now and the upside is one of the game’s premier outfielders and a five-tool stud who is an MVP-caliber player with six years of team control remaining.

Whether that kind of blockbuster is actually in the works remains to be seen as well, but it at least makes more sense to me if we are going to be tossing around Hot Stove speculation.

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