Monday, December 9, 2013

Mariners' Next Steps after Signing Cano

By Kevin Calderhead

Jack Z is going all out this offseason. ROBINSON CANO. Wow.

The Mariners are tired of losing and if they don’t make the playoffs this year, Zduriencik may lose his job. Signing the best second baseman in the American League is a great step forward, but one player isn’t going to turn everything around. There are several more pieces Jack Z needs to add to make Seattle a successful team in 2014.

On a related note, a lot of you are probably asking “Where did we get all this money from?” Well the Mariners have finally paid off players we had released or traded, like Ichiro and Chone Figgins who were being paid a combined $27 million a year. There are now only two players on the roster with large payrolls: Felix at $22.5 million and Iwakuma at $6.5 million. That leaves a load of money for Jack Z to spend.

By himself, Cano can’t fix the Mariners less than average offense. We need at least one more big bat, preferably an outfielder, and Nelson Cruz and ex-Mariner Shin-Soo Choo could be potential acquisitions. In fact, as I write this article, there’s been a report that Nelson Cruz has turned down 5 years $75 million from the M’s. Nothing has been confirmed yet though. Matt Kemp could also come our way, but rumors are swirling that a trade between the Dodgers and the Red Sox for Kemp is brewing. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that another Dodgers’ outfielder, Andre Ethier, is also on their radar, as well as Corey Hart.

Could Nelson Cruz be the next big signing for Jack Zduriencik and the Mariners?
Black Sports Online

By signing Cano, the Mariners’ other second basemen, Dustin Ackley and Nick Franklin, could be used as trade bait. Ackley especially is drawing interest from teams across the league. Outfielder Michael Saunders and pitcher James Paxton have been also been mentioned as trading pieces.

If Kendrys Morales doesn’t re-sign, which he most likely will not, as he turned down our $14.1 million offer, another DH will need to be traded for or signed. Billy Butler, the designated hitter of the Kansas City Royals, could assume this role. Butler batted .289 and hit 15 bombs with 82 RBI’s. His highest home run total in his career is 29, the same year he knocked in 107 runs. But acquiring Cano may entice Morales to sign back with the Mariners. Morales led the Mariners in batting last season.

The Mariners also need another consistent starting pitcher to go along with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. Sources have reported that Tampa Bay Rays’ ace David Price is their top priority. Price won only 10 games last year, but in 2012 he won the Cy Young with a 20-5 record, a 2.56 ERA and 205 punch-outs. I like the idea of a trade, but Tampa Bay wants Taijuan Walker in exchange. Walker is the Mariners’ best pitching prospect, and had a bit of success at the end of last year. Jack Z says, however, that he has no intentions of trading Walker. MLB Network’s analyst Richard Justice has said that any trade for Price would almost certainly include first baseman Justin Smoak.

A Mariners rotation with David Price included within it would be second to none in Major League Baseball.
Mike Carlson/AP

Price isn’t the only starting pitcher Jack Z has shown interest in. Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Bartolo Colon are all possibilities. But I would sure like to get Price, without losing Walker. I’m sitting here imagining a starting rotation with Felix, Kuma, Price, Walker and Paxton and it makes me the most excited for Mariners baseball than I have been in a while.

The last time I was this happy about baseball in Seattle was when we signed Chone Figgins. I don’t even want to think about how that turned out.

But if Jack Z can manage to sign a power hitting outfielder and ace David Price, the Mariners could be good. Like playoff good. When was the last time we said that? We wouldn’t have to worry about whether a field of inexperienced prospects could turn into wins. The fate of the 2014 Seattle Mariners is in Zduriencik’s hands, and it looks like he means business.

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