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Mariners rumor round-up: M's interested in trading for Matt Kemp, signing Nelson Cruz

Rosenthal reports that the M's are interested in Nelson Cruz, and Morosi says the Mariners are interested in trading for Matt Kemp.


Yesterday, the Mariners were "immersed" in the Carlos Beltran and Jhonny Peralta market, according to Jerry Crasnick. I wrote about it, advising caution to these kind of rumors. It's a reference point for any major names that are floated around in connection with the M's this off-season.

Later, Crasnick said the Mariners would "like to find a way" to add Beltran and Nelson Cruz. This prompted plenty of backlash, and then Rosenthal confirmed the team's interest in Cruz. Dave Cameron thoroughly wrecked the idea of Nelson Cruz being a good idea, and he's dead on. That being said, I think it's still too early to say this free agent rumor has any more merit than any of the other ones being passed around. If it seems like I continue to gloss over Beltran, it's because I am. He's almost certainly not coming to Seattle at this stage in his career, and it seems pointless to pretend he would. If he comes here, it's because the Mariners did something silly and paid him way too much.

Today's rumor is a slightly more juicy one. Our old friend Jon Morosi is reporting that the Mariners have expressed interest in trading for Matt Kemp, which is a more interesting proposition than Cruz or Beltran.

The Dodgers have too many outfielders and a ton of money invested in them, not that it matters to a franchise that takes baths in liquid gold. Kemp comes with a ton of medical red flags, but was an 8 win player as recently as 2011. He'll be 29 for the upcoming season, and he's actually not a bad buy-low target if you ignore his massive contract balance. Certainly, the cost to acquire Kemp, in terms of prospects, is a lot lower now than it was in 2012.

Still, that contract. Kemp is owed $128 million over the next 6 years, through his age 35 season. Kemp is already declining in center field, and would have to be moved to a corner spot sooner than later. You're also banking that his injuries are what has primarily hampered his performance at the plate, and that they aren't going to keep popping up again. They're probably going to. All off-season, when I've talked about Jacoby Ellsbury, I've pointed out that his injuries aren't of a predictable, repeatable nature. I usually finish this argument by saying "he's not Matt Kemp." So.

For a while, there was talk that Kemp's ankle injury could be career-ending. He's also gone through a torn labrum, damaged rotator cuff, and kept hurting his hamstring in 2012. In 2013, he continued having problems with his repaired shoulder until the ankle finally shut him down. The red flags are off the charts, but it's also going to severely reduce the cost to acquire him.

Yeah, it's probably a bad idea to trade for Matt Kemp. Still, it isn't the name that matters, it's the cost. Even with the red flags, Matt Kemp is a good baseball player, and the Mariners would definitely be better with him. The reason many people have a visceral reaction to the idea of free agents like Nelson Cruz or trade targets like Matt Kemp is because they think it will cost too much. I don't know what the cost is, and neither do you. Nobody knows what prospects the Dodgers want, and how much money they could eat to make a deal happen. Don't fully judge the Mariners front office on tweets like this, because they're ultimately hollow, painting only a fraction of the picture. Talking about a Kemp addition means very little without knowing the price to acquire him, and that's a very tough thing to predict - especially for a franchise like the Dodgers, where money seems to mean very little.

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