Now that Robinson Cano is on board, this offseason has completely changed. The plan we laid out for the Mariners going forward has been completely busted, and very little of it still applies. Ready or not, the Mariners are stepping up to play with the big boys, and that means they've got a lot more work to do. Robinson Cano may make this team flirt with .500, but it's only the beginning.
So what kind of moves should we expect the Mariners to do next?
The Mariners will now need to nab another pitcher, and if their offseason wish list (courtesy of Buster Olney) is any indication, they still desire a #2 caliber pitcher. The Mariners have signified this by talking to the Rays about David Price, which would seem to make even more sense now that they have Robinson Cano. It does, but it also doesn't. David Price is going to cost a serious package of young talent, and even though Nick Franklin is now expendable, it doesn't mean it's a great idea to trade him for production you don't have to give him up for.
If the Mariners are ready to start printing money like the Angels have been, then they should spend it on Bartolo Colon or Ubaldo Jimenez (see links to my argument for both players). Both of those players aren't going to cost a higher salary than David Price is due over the next two years, and while their production won't be as good, they also won't require the Mariners to give up their biggest chip. If the cost to get Price is indeed Taijaun Walker, doesn't a future with a 32 year old Ubaldo Jimenez at $15 million a year and Taijuan Walker at the league minimum look at a lot more appealing than one with David Price on the Yankees and Taijuan Walker on the Rays?
The Mariners should also get in on Masahiro Tanaka. The new posting agreement is in place, and the maximum bid to join the party is now just $20 million, and Tanaka will then have his choice of where he ends up. With Seattle's history with Japanese players and Tanaka's former teammate Hisashi Iwakuma already on board, Seattle has a legitimate chance of landing Tanaka. A rotation of Felix, Iwakuma, Tanaka, Walker, and somebody else would be devastating, and the team wouldn't have to sacrifice a pick or talent to get him. This should be the team's top priority, but they can't afford to wait for him. Hopefully his posting gets resolved sooner than later.
While Robinson Cano is going to be at his best now rather than later, he's still likely to be very good in three+ years, and the Mariners should still look to make moves that not only help them compete now, but through both Cano and Felix Hernandez's contracts. The Mariners cannot over-think this situation. If you're going to spend, spend. But save your biggest trading chips for pieces that you cannot otherwise acquire on the free agent market, which may be the following.
Another bat or two
The Mariners still need more offense, especially in the outfield. It looks like Carlos Beltran might be the answer, as his reported 3 year, $48 million offer in hand was not from the Royals, according to Buster Olney. It was previously speculated that the offer might be from the Mariners, and that might made a lot more sense now. Beltran would fill a corner outfield spot and pale in risk when stacked next to the Cano deal. The Mariners are probably out on Shin-Soo Choo at this point, and the Yankees might go binge sign him in retaliation. A mid-level free agent oufielder makes a lot more sense, and the idea of Nelson Cruz still lingers, especially after the Mariners added yet another left-handed batter.
There's always the trade route, too. The team needs to trade Nick Franklin for something, and when combined with James Paxton, he might net a nice outfielder in return. Is it Matt Kemp? If the Dodgers eat some of his remaining salary, which there's been indications they're willing to do, then he could be a feasible, yet wildly risky target for the Mariners if the cost is Nick Franklin and James Paxton.
The Mariners should ignore Kendrys Morales, especially after losing a pick to acquire Cano. The Mariners should look to fill the DH position for cheap, or with internal options. Using their remaining resources should be used for primarily position players and starting pitching, and the thought of giving an only decent hitter with no value in other places is chilling. If Dustin Ackley or Michael Saunders are still around, they can be rotated in at DH for a fraction of the cost for a small downgrade from Morales, who takes away value when he's on the basepaths.
The Mariners have been rumored to want a closer, but it wouldn't be a smart use of their money at this point. The one deal that needs to get done sooner than later is bringing back Oliver Perez, but passing on somebody like Grant Balfour. That being said, don't be surprised if you do see the Mariners nab Balfour on a deal in the 1/$8 range with another option, as he'll likely get slightly less than Joe Nathan received from the Tigers.
- Robinson Cano, Mariners agree on blockbuster deal of 10 years, $240 million
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- Mariners rumors: Robinson Cano afternoon update
- Mariners rumors: Mariners willing to offer Robinson Cano $230-240 million over 10 years
- Analysis: The impatient projection system