Here's the latest on all of the players connected to the Mariners.
Bob Nightengale says that Shin-Soo Choo could cost up to $140 million over 7 years, so it's no wonder teams are cooling off. The Arizona Diamondbacks are presumed to be out on Choo after trading for Mark Trumbo, and Joel Sherman hears that the Mariners and Rangers are considered the front-runners for Choo. It's worth mentioning that Divish passes along that the Mariners tried to trade for Choo two years ago, but couldn't work anything out. The Reds are still talking to Choo, but aren't expected to have the cash after failing to deal Brandon Phillips so far.
The Red Sox appear to be fully out on Kemp, according to Nick Carfardo. The Dodgers are, however, ready to eat extra cash in order to make a deal happen, if it means getting a better prospect in return. The problem is that Kemp remains in a walking boot, and his spring training availability is in question. Bob Nightengale says that the Dodgers are unlikely to make a deal before the winter meetings are over, which is problematic for the Mariners and other teams. The outfield market is almost dry, especially for right-handers. Can the Mariners really afford to wait on a deal for Kemp if the Dodgers have no motivation to trade him? If it means passing on Nelson Cruz, yes. The Tigers are also rumored to have some interest, though they'd likely have to move Austin Jackson to make it happen.
If there was any doubt, David Price's agent was asked specifically about signing an extension with Seattle, to which he said no. Bob McKinnis did say Price was open to signing an extension with other teams, but wouldn't specify which ones. Tampa Bay can't be happy about McKinnis' meddling in their negotiations, and it reaffirms how bad of an idea it is to deal Price for a two year window. There was also some nonsense from Jon Heyman last night that the Mariners could include Mike Zunino in a deal for Price, but it was only speculation on his part. The Rays already have Jose Molina and Ryan Hanigan under contract for 2014.
The Mariners are still fully into Nelson Cruz, though nothing seems to be imminent and Zduriencik has shot down rumors of a 5/75 offer being turned down. His primary suitors seem to be the Rangers, M's, and Orioles.
Zduriencik has confirmed that the Mariners have interest in bringing Gutierrez back, and rightfully so. He's looking for a one year deal with incentives, and given the familiarity, lack of RH bats available, and need on their bench, the Mariners should get it done. He may not have made much sense at the beginning of the off-season, but given what's transpired, he certainly does now.
Hart has put together a training video to show how his knees are performing, and Ken Rosenthal reports that it was impressive, though there was no family barbeque. He's also reported to want to return to the Brewers, but Jon Heyman says multiple teams have offers in for him. Fingers crossed for the Mariners.
It's still uncertain if Tanaka will be posted or not, but people inside the Mariners organization seem to be familiar with Z's offseason plan. When Lloyd McClendon was asked during his presser if he thought a lot of teams would bid on Tanaka, he simply said "I hope not." Take from that what you will. The posting agreement has been agreed to and will be finalized on Monday.
I'm getting a lot of tweets about Brett Gardner, and it's worth addressing. He's going to be a free agent in a terrible class in one year, and he is going to get paid. Big. There's very little reason for the Mariners to acquire him, and even less reason for him to consider an extension. It's not difficult to conceive that he could get $100 million plus with another good year.
Miami has put Ruggiano on the block, and he could make a lot of sense for the Mariners as a platoon bat or more. Ruggiano is 31, due $1.8 million in arbitration, and is a good buy-low candidate after a disappointing 2013 in which he still hit lefties well (130 wRC+). He can play all three outfield positions and metrics paint him as average-ish or slightly below in center field. He's an excellent option to get at a cheap cost, and all things consider, I'd prefer him to Franklin Gutierrez for the sad, obvious reasons of health.