Day Two morning update from Orlando
Welcome to Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, where not a lot happened the previous day as teams spent more time talking and getting settled in after a hectic prior week where many of the top free agents came to agreements.
One of those obviously was Robinson Cano, and I keep getting questions about when that deal with the Mariners will become official. All I can tell you at this point is that Cano is flying to Seattle soon for a physical exam, after which the deal — assuming all goes as expected — will be signed and the team will hold an introductory press conference in Seattle. I expect all that to take place by the end of this week, but that’s just a presumption at this point as the Mariners continue their policy of not confirming anything until a deal is completely in place.
As for the action here in Orlando, Jack Zduriencik made the rounds on the TV circuit in the hotel lobby this morning as he continues being a sought-out person in the media, given the Mariners remain linked in reports to many of the top names still on the board.
Zduriencik told us yesterday that he won’t trade Taijuan Walker, but he isn’t saying his club is out of the picture if the Rays are willing to trade David Price. I’m not sure what package of prospects it would take to pry Price away, but it’s hard for me to imagine giving away so much of its prized young talent I remain skeptical on that front.
I do know the Mariners continue pushing hard for a right-handed outfield bat, with Nelson Cruz a prime target. But the Rangers are also interested in keeping Cruz and that one will be competive. It seems far-less likely that Shin-Soo Choo winds up with the Mariners, given his left-handedness, the massive contract he seems headed toward and the fact he may not have been all that keen on his initial experience in Seattle.
The Mariners are exploring numerous outfield options beyond Cruz, but the dominoes seem to start with Choo and Cruz, so it’ll be interesting to see if one or both of them sign in the next few days.
Seattle tried a pair of right-handed power bats in the outfield last year in Michael Morse and Jason Bay, but neither panned out. Morse is being mentioned as a free-agent of interest by the Rockies, Rangers and others. But Bay, I learned this morning, appears headed to the Yomiuri Giants in Japan.
Bay took a lot of heat from Mets fans, but he’s a great guy who obviously just wants to keep playing baseball. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
On the flip side of the Japan exchange, the future of Masahiro Tanaka may soon become clearer when the Rakuten Golden Eagles decide whether to post their ace right-hander. Rakuten’s owner is expected to arrive in Orlando today, which figures to be an interesting situation as the Japanese clubs try to sort through MLB’s new posting system that caps posting fees at $20 million.
I’m not sure why Tanaka hasn’t been mentioned more prominently as a potential Mariners’ target. Maybe the Mariners are just lying low, but seems to me he could be a natural fit as a former teammate of Hisashi Iwakuma’s at Rakuten. Imagine sliding Tanaka into a rotation with Felix Hernandez, Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker. He won’t come cheap, but the $20 million posting limit makes it more realistic and the 26-year-old seems a far better bet than the questionable “high-end” free agent possibilities currently on the market.
New Mariners skipper Lloyd McClendon will meet with the media today at 1 p.m. PT, so I’ll have an update from that as well as our afternoon get-together with Zduriencik. So we’ll talk again then …