Winter Meetings Predictions
The offseason kicks into high gear tomorrow as the winter meetings officially get underway. Most teams were traveling to Orlando today, but now that all 30 teams are in one hotel hanging out, expect a flurry of major moves in the next few days. While the Mariners aren’t the big player they were two years ago, there’s still a good chance that they could make some big splashes. You’re going to hear them linked to a lot of names, as one of the hallmarks of this front office is exploring a lot of different options simultaneously.
Most of what you read isn’t going to come to fruition. But some of it will. Based on some conversations I’ve had with people in Orlando, rumors that have been kicking around for the past few weeks, and just a general gut feeling, here’s what I’m betting on the Mariners doing before the winter meetings end – but please note that not even Bill Bavasi has any idea what they’re actually going to accomplish, so 95% of this is going to be wrong. Take it with many grains of salt.
Okay, so I’m not going out on a big limb here. Schmidt wants to pitch in Seattle, and despite his agent trying to drum up interest in him from other teams, everyone in baseball knows it. The Mariners know it too, so they’ve been unwilling to bid against themselves, which is why Schmidt isn’t yet a Mariner. But it’d be the stunner of the offseason if it didn’t happen. He wants to pitch here, they want him to pitch here, and they have the money. It’s about as much of a lock as you can have in baseball.
Much to my delight, the M’s are willing to talk about dealing Richie Sexson, but probably a few weeks late. The Orioles and Giants have already signed right-handed first base options (Millar and Aurilia, respectively), and the line of GMs interested in Sexson as a $14 million player doesn’t extend far beyond those two cities. The addition of Jose Guillen gives the Mariners another RH bat with some power to replace Sexson in the line-up, which makes them more amenable to dealing him, but it’s unlikely that they’ll find a team willing to match the price. So, rather than taking Broussard to arbitration and paying him $4 million to play an undefined role, expect the M’s to ship him to the Orioles for a mediocre prospect or two.
Jeremy Reed has no future in Seattle. One of Bill Bavasi’s personal beliefs is that players deserve a chance to have a career, and he’s consistently bent over backwards to trade players in an effort to give them a better opportunity than he can offer. The M’s are going to sell low on Reed, but acquiring a live armed reliever or two will give them the opportunity to…
- Trade Rafael Soriano and a couple of prospects to Colorado for Jason Jennings
The Mariners have noticed the high price that relief pitchers have been fetching in trades the past six months, and none of the relievers moved have been as talented as Rafael Soriano. Due to his continuing arm issues, they’re not considering moving him to the rotation, and J.J. Putz has a hammerlock on the closer job, so he’s pigeonholed as a setup man in Seattle, and there are several teams that would love to hand him the ball in the 9th inning. The Rockies are going to trade Jennings if they can’t sign him to a long term contract, and despite the likely deal with John Thomson, Bavasi would love to add another 200 inning workhorse to slide into the middle of the rotation.
Two small trades, one large trade, and the most obvious free agent signing in history.
All of this is possible. No one knows what will happen this week, but that’s my best guess.