Winter Meetings Predictions

Dave · December 3, 2006 at 8:53 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

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.

  1. Sign Jason Schmidt to a 4 year, $52 million contract.

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.

  1. Trade Ben Broussard to Baltimore for a signed picture of Ray Lewis.

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.

  1. Trade Jeremy Reed to Florida for relief pitching

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…

  1. 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.


132 Responses to “Winter Meetings Predictions”

  1. Tom on December 4th, 2006 1:28 pm

    Dang it, if only we had someone gullible enough to take on Sexson’s contract for 2 or 3 mediocre prospects, then that would make me happy.

    I like the idea of Jennings coming to SAFECO although I think it’s a little bit of a gamble, because, idk, he just doesn’t scream solid #2 starter. It could be because he’s pitched over in the NL and in Denver, but still. I think you’d be better off trying to trade for Tim Hudson, Freddy Garcia, etc. but Jennings would probably be ok too.

    But still, I like the idea of trading for another starting pitcher increase the depth of the rotation.

    Jennings/someone else that could be a #2 starter
    Washburn (who when healthy isn’t half bad, but grossly overpaid)
    El Rey Felix
    Thomson/Lehr/Baek (either way, good, healthy competition for the #5 spot)

    It’s not a great rotation and still I think lacking that true #1 “it” guy, but still pretty solid and getting Schmidt in here really wouldn’t be half bad if we trade Sexson for prospects.

    Then it would just be almost literally like trading Sexson for Schmidt.

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmm, trading a .240 hitter that clogs the lineup for a starting pitcher that, well, at least isn’t Pinata or Meche.

    Not a bad idea.

  2. Thingray on December 4th, 2006 1:31 pm

    Thanks Dash!

  3. Mere Tantalisers on December 4th, 2006 1:32 pm

    Am I missing something here? I thought the whole point of moving Sexon was to not pay his salary. If we’re paying him, I’d much rather have him stay here.

  4. Coach Owens on December 4th, 2006 1:33 pm

    99. Probably down not from the Sexson rumors but from what he’s asking. I doubt the possibility is at 95% or 85% due to a 4th year making his salary $60 million and a 5th year $75 million. I would bet it’s right around 70-80 percent now.

  5. Jim Thomsen on December 4th, 2006 1:36 pm

    I’ve been a big Bobby Livingston believer, as I don’t think you can be too dismissive of lefties with good control and fairish stuff, but even I lost faith him last year. His brief but disastrous experience seems to have really untracked him, as he was durably mediocre in Tacoma the rest of the way.

    In his defense, his 10.97 H/9 and 4.59 K/9 numbers in 2006 in Tacoma are completely out of whack with his minor-league career norms, and he’s still young (turned 24 in Sepetmber). I wonder if he was trying to pitch his way through an injury of some kind.

    In any case, I hope the M’s haven’t completely given up on him and resign him as a minor league free agent if he’s healthy. If not, I’m sure he’ll hook on somewhere else before long. I still think he has a chance to surprise a little in the back end of somebody’s rotation.

  6. Tom on December 4th, 2006 1:41 pm

    #101-Of course, then again, the bigger and more complicated question concerning the M’s never ending quest for an ace pitcher you have to ask yourself is do you have your possibly #1 starter with an “it” factor already in King Felix?

    But that’s another question and debate in itself that doesn’t necessarily relate to what the Mariners need for next season.

  7. Mat on December 4th, 2006 1:44 pm

    My point on the Garza/Jennings rumor is that I would rather have Garza now, let alone in the future, than Jennings. While Garza was up-and-down in his debut, his minor league numbers are awesome and there is about a 90% chance he will be significantly better than Jennings next year, let alone in 5 years.

    The knock on Garza is that he relied so much on his fastball in the minors that his numbers won’t translate as well to the majors as you would normally expect. Having seen him pitch a few times, this seems plausible. He’s got a reasonably good fastball, but when major league hitters sit on it, he’s got to throw his breaking stuff and he has had trouble controlling those pitches. When he does throw his breaking stuff for strikes, he’s gotten a lot of swings and misses or weak contact.

    Adjusting for Coors, I’d say Jennings is probably better than Garza next year, but the difference wouldn’t be huge. But those are just details, anyway, we both agree that it’d be crazy for the Twins to do that trade.

  8. aws on December 4th, 2006 1:54 pm

    From the winter meetings report Peter Gammons just claimed the Mariners and Dodgers are in the hunt for Manny Ramirez.

    Any chance the Mariners are doing this?

  9. Thingray on December 4th, 2006 1:55 pm

    I agree with #103. Why trade Sexson if we are going to pay his salary anyway? It’s not as if he’s blocking someone in AAA (or anywhere else for that matter).

    He is still a power threat, which this team desperately needs. Of course I also realize that he is a strike out threat, and runs about as well as a three-toed sloth.

  10. MarinerDan on December 4th, 2006 1:57 pm

    #107 — I think we are mainly in agreement, but I am a little more optimistic on Garza than you are. I have him pegged for a major break-out year next season (and will draft in my fantasy baseball league accordingly). I like Jennings, too, but see him doing more of the same, without anywhere near the upside.

    I would certainly rather have Garza going forward than Soriano — primarily because I don’t think Soriano will ever have the health to start.

  11. Bender on December 4th, 2006 2:00 pm

    From the winter meetings report Peter Gammons just claimed the Mariners and Dodgers are in the hunt for Manny Ramirez.

    Any chance the Mariners are doing this?

    I don’t see what we’d give up to get him.

  12. Mr. Egaas on December 4th, 2006 2:02 pm

    From the winter meetings report Peter Gammons just claimed the Mariners and Dodgers are in the hunt for Manny Ramirez.

    I think Bavasi should focus his time on pitching instead of things like this.

    If it involves Adam Jones, no way.
    If it involves Richie Sexson and/or Jeremy Reed, hooray!

  13. Thingray on December 4th, 2006 2:07 pm

    Not with what I hear the BoSox are asking for. We’d have to give up Adam Jones and Soriano (at least) to even compare to the package the Red Sox are rumored to be asking for.

  14. Coach Owens on December 4th, 2006 2:10 pm

    From the winter meetings report Peter Gammons just claimed the Mariners and Dodgers are in the hunt for Manny Ramirez

    The only way this would be possible would be for Jones or Clement or Ichiro or somebody similar, which is way to much of a risk for 2 years of Manny Ramirez. Bill, don’t get distacted! Focus on pitching.

  15. ChrisK on December 4th, 2006 2:11 pm

    I wonder if Manny would waive his no-trade clause to come here.

  16. furgig on December 4th, 2006 2:13 pm

    I’d take Manny for Sexson/Soriano. But not for Sexson/Putz. I’m not sure what that would do to our quest for pitching, though. If we have Manny on board, it seems like paying Schmidt would be too much. But if we have to trade for Manny, do we have the pieces to trade for a Jennings, or, if possible (if not highly unlikely) a Willis?

  17. joser on December 4th, 2006 2:14 pm

    But breaking stuff doesn’t work as well at Coors, which is why it continues to inflate batting averages even as the humidor brings down HR rates, so maybe Garza getting by on fastballs is a good fit for Colorado?

  18. Coach Owens on December 4th, 2006 2:16 pm

    I wonder if Manny would waive his no-trade clause to come here

    Probably. He was willing to trade it to come here before this season so I’d be surprised if he didn’t do it this time. Plus he has history with Hargrove.

  19. Bender on December 4th, 2006 2:17 pm

    Is history with Grover a good thing?

  20. joser on December 4th, 2006 2:19 pm

    And no one can successfully wear the white shoes of shame. What do you think is keeping the A’s out of the World Series?

  21. Jerry Pezzino on December 4th, 2006 2:31 pm

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bavasi do a Jones/Soriano for Ramirez deal. Problem being Hargrove and the type I can see being discouraged from Jones’ outing last year at the big team.

    Not saying it’s the right move, but it’s certainly possible.

  22. KingCorran on December 4th, 2006 2:31 pm

    Jones would be a great trade for Manny. Adam Jones is blocked like crazy in Safeco, and Safeco would diminish his potential greatly. He’d do very well in Boston… and Boston knows it. He’s an amazing centerpiece, and it’s almost not possible to do better for him.

    I wouldn’t send them Putz and Jones unless we couldn’t get them to take the deal any other way… I’m a bit low on Soriano until he proves he’s mentally past the Vlad incident (especially with Lowe in such dangerous ground).

    I’d do Sexson-Jones in a heartbeat. I’d rather do Jones-Soriano-AAA pitcher, if they’d bite… Ibanez at 1B isn’t a pain, but I think many people underestimate Sexson’s value on a short contract, with the ability to hit for good righty power in Safeco.

  23. Edman on December 4th, 2006 2:33 pm

    AM…….If I was Detroit, I’d want someone else to close, other than Zumaya…….he was way too scary in the series. It’s just a feeling, but I don’t think it’s something he’s going to work out of.

  24. IdahoInvader on December 4th, 2006 2:36 pm

    Following these rumors can be sorta weird when you look at the possible (remote as they may be) projections. If we somehow got Manny, kept Sexson, yet lost Soriano, Putz among others in the process, wouldn’t we be a lil’ too close to the shortcomings of the 1996-97 M’s? Granted, those teams at least won…even if scores resembled the Seahawk games.

  25. NBarnes on December 4th, 2006 2:42 pm

    Jones would be really thoroughly blocked in Boston, as well, since they have a very shiny centerfielder of their own coming up in Jacob Ellsbury. If the Sox got Jones et al for Ramirez, I’d except further trading to occur as they spin off some of their excess of outfielders.

  26. msb on December 4th, 2006 2:43 pm

    Geoff Baker is filing updates from the meetings for the Times…

  27. Bender on December 4th, 2006 2:44 pm

    It seems easier to build a bullpen than get an impact hitter like Manny though.

  28. Jim Thomsen on December 4th, 2006 2:46 pm

    If I were Theo Epstein, I would see getting rid of Manny’s contract as an even trade of losing his service. Being the sharpie he is, he’ll come out ahead by stocking the Red Sox organization with a few top prospects.

    He doesn’t need Sexson. Why should Sexson displace Youkilis?

    If I were Theo, I’d hold firm for a Jones/Putz deal.

  29. msb on December 4th, 2006 2:48 pm
  30. Bender on December 4th, 2006 2:59 pm

    Thinking we’ll be able to dump Sexson and get Manny is wishful thinking. As Mariner fans, it’s best to be more realistic.

  31. NBarnes on December 4th, 2006 3:06 pm

    128: I’m pretty sure I don’t agree. The Red Sox are already a very very good team. There aren’t a lot of things they can do to get as much better as Manny Ramirez makes them over their alternatives in left field. Given the crazy contracts being handed out to outfielders this offseason, one of the reasons that Ramirez is being not just shopped around but asked after by other teams is that you absolutely cannot get players of his caliber for $20 a year right now. If Epstein trades Ramirez, he’s not just dumping salary, he’s losing a talent that needs to be replaced if Boston is going to send New York home in September. Since Ramirez’s contract is far from ludicrous, Epstein really doesn’t need to trade Ramirez at all, which is why he’s holding out for some crazy package of prospects from Ned Coletti or Putz+Jones here.

  32. furgig on December 4th, 2006 3:27 pm

    So, if the M’s DO aquire Manny without giving up Sexson, what would that do to our FA acquisition budget? What would be left for pitching, and where would we get it, assuming that our best trade pieces would be given up for Manny?

    This leads me to believe the M’s won’t go after Manny, since we really need pitching the most, and it seems a foregone conclusion that Bavasi will offer Schmidt too much.

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