There's a lot of rumors flying around, but not a lot of deals being made. Here's what's in the air, and how it relates to the Mariners.
The market for Shin-Soo Choo had been focused on the Rangers and Diamondbacks. But as the Diamondbacks are nearing a deal for Mark Trumbo, Ken Rosenthal speculated on MLB Network that a trade would take them out of contention for Choo, choosing to then spend their cash on a starting pitcher instead. Meanwhile, the Rangers are posturing that Choo has priced himself out of their range, and Jeff Wilson of the FWST says that the team may be leaning towards a reunion with Nelson Cruz instead. Rejoice!
GMZ appeared on MLB Network this morning, and laughed at the idea of a 5 year, $75 million offer on the table for Cruz (that he allegedly declined, according to rumors Ryan Divish heard), but he didn't exactly deny it. His comments about the Wedge/Blengino fiasco were status quo, and also asserted that he was versed in statistical analysis, though he did say he wouldn't lead a sabermetric convention, or something of that general nature.
Z didn't do much to dispel the notion that the Mariners were in the market for a closer, and now there's reports from Jon Paul Morosi that the Mariners are in on Fernando Rodney, which is an interesting option. Rodney put together one of the best relief seasons in major league history just a year ago, but returned to a good, not great level last year. He's still striking people out (something he couldn't really do that well in his previous years), but the control is once again became an issue, and there's concerns about taking him away from the coaches in Tampa Bay that finally harnessed his stuff. Still, if he comes on a one year deal, there are worse reliever investments to make. There's certainly upside, even if his acquisition would be a complete luxury. I don't know what the budget is, but I do know that it shouldn't be gratuitously spend on closers when the team already has one whose peripherals resemble Craig Kimbrel's. Bob Dutton passed along that closers were not a top priority for the team at this point, so their interest may be preliminary. The Mariners have also been connected to John Axford.
By now you've seen that Z stated he doesn't intend to trade Taijuan Walker, which has always struck me as a slightly hilarious way of giving an opinion. If he trades him, what does he say? Whoops, I didn't mean to do that? Either way, he's now said that Walker should be around twice, but we don't know how much of that is sincere and how much of that is posturing to force other clubs to reduce their demands. Jeff has a good write-up on this at USSM, and personally, I'm not going to read into it. It can't be viewed as anything but encouraging that Z says he won't deal Walker, because he's either sincere or he's using it to gain an advantage in negotiations. Both scenarios are good. Either he'll be here or he won't. I hope that he is, short of in exchange for a few players who probably aren't available anyways.
The Mariners had been previously linked to Rajai Davis, but he's signed a two-year deal with Detroit.
Ken Rosenthal ended the morning MLB Network Hot Stove segment with his take on Matt Kemp and Nelson Cruz, stating that he'd talked to people in the organization about both players, and their odds of acquiring one or the other. Their response was 50/50, presented in a way that made it seem like the Mariners were trying hard to get one of them but not the other. Matt Kemp is still iin a walking boot, and isn't expected to be 100% for Spring Training, so that makes this whole situation a cluster. There's nobody else available who represents a bigger upside OR downside, and he's got a big ol' contract - but it could also represent a possible buy-low scenario. Personally, I'm not sure why the Dodgers feel inclined to move him at this point unless they're convinced he's a lost cause. If that's the case, buyer beware.
Chris Cotillo threw up on Star Tours.