It's time to have a preemptive conversation about free agent rumors as they relate to this off-season, since Jerry Crasnick just mentioned the Mariners in the same tweet as Jhonny Peralta and Carlos Beltran.
First, let's establish a few facts.
- The Mariners have many holes on their roster
- The Mariners have a good amount of money to spend if they choose to do so
- It's safe to assume most front offices will do their due diligence on every free agent they would like to have on their team
Because of this, the Mariners are going to be connected to just about every major free agent this off-season, and a lot of the lesser ones as well. It's important not to overreact to it, and even I found myself in a state of utter confusion until I wrapped my head around what was going on. You're going to hear the Mariners connected to Ervin Santana. You're probably going to hear them connected to Bronson Arroyo, Brian McCann, and Mark Reynolds. At some point, expect to hear them connected to Delmon Young. Don't freak out.
What is being connected, anyways? These days, it's just a simple mention of team A and player B together in a single tweet from a reputable source, or even a semi-reputable one. I could probably start a storm if I wanted by tweeting out something like "Just heard the Mariners are checking in on Robinson Cano." It would be a lie, and it would also be totally mean, but it would probably still be true, in a manner of speaking. The Mariners absolutely should be checking in on every free agent. The Mariners need to know what asking prices are, and which teams are involved in which free agents. It's going to help them decide which legitimate offers to make to players they actually want, and which players they can stop wasting resources on.
Here's today's rumor in question. Crasnick says that the Mariners are immersed in the market, which is a seriously different thing from saying the Mariners are looking to sign these guys. That kind of language means almost nothing. The Mariners are almost certainly not going to sign Carlos Beltran, but why not check in on what his market looks like after Marlon Byrd inks a 2 year, $16 million deal with Philadelphia? It would be irresponsible not to see what everyone is up to. Even though Jhonny Peralta doesn't make a whole lot of sense for the Mariners, he could for the right price, and a team heavily involved with Peralta might not be involved with another guy the Mariners really want. Don't get mad at the front office for this kind of stuff. Being involved in a market is a whole lot different than a source claiming the Mariners are in serious pursuit, about to make a substantial offer, or whatever descriptive verbs are used for the player in question.
Timing is also a big factor here. It seems unlikely that Jacoby Ellsbury is going to sign anywhere soon, given how many suitors he has. He probably won't sign anything before the Winter Meetings, and meanwhile, free agents are already starting to get snatched up. Of course the Mariners are involved in other markets more than Ellsbury's at this point, and it doesn't have much to do with whether or not they believe Ellsbury is the right guy for their franchise. They can't sit on their hands waiting for the big fish and miss out on a bunch of smaller names in the meantime.
Crasnick isn't doing anything wrong, and he isn't even being misleading. He's passing on a rumor that is likely true, at least partially. You're going to see dozens of tweets from other good sources like this over the off-season, and it's important to take everything in context and pay attention to the language used. Today's tweet could easily be skimmed to reach a false conclusion that the Mariners want Carlos Beltran more than Jacoby Ellsbury. We have to be careful, and that's a reminder to myself as much as it is to the reader.
More from Lookout Landing:
- Lloyd McClendon, Jack Zduriencik and analytics: what they're saying
- Kendrys Morales declines qualifying offer, will test free agent market
- Shin-Soo Choo may fit with Mariners
- Choose Your Own Adventure: Seattle Mariners 2014 General Manager
- Rosenthal: Mariners want one of Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo, as well as a starting pitcher and RH bat