The Mariners Watched A Few Cubans
The Mariners had a workout for multiple Cuban players today in the Dominican Republic, including second basemen Andy Ibanez and Hector Olivera. In attendance at that workout were Mariners president Kevin Mather, general manager Jack Zduriencik and international director Tim Kissner.
But baseball sources downplayed the presence of Mather and Zduriencik at the workouts. They were on hand for them because there were organizational meetings going on at the facility that same week. Both Zduriencik and Mather were down there for those meetings not specifically to see those two players.
That says almost enough, right there. Zduriencik and Mather watched the workout because it literally would’ve been difficult for them not to. So, this isn’t any kind of indication that the Mariners are totally serious about making an international play, but the fact of the matter is that there *was* a workout, and the Mariners *did* pay attention, and it *is* the beginning of February and the only alternative to thinking about this story is thinking about the Super Bowl and relative to that isn’t this story just the most interesting and compelling story? Let’s talk about this story. Let’s only talk about this story, for at least the next couple of weeks. Let’s talk about this story when we wake up, and let’s talk about this story until we fall asleep. Let’s talk ourselves asleep, with this story.
Of Olivera and Ibanez, Olivera is the bigger name. He’s the guy who’s said to be big-league ready, or just about. Ibanez is more of a prospect. Olivera is a prospect, too, but Ibanez is the kind of prospect who would immediately fit into the low- to mid-minors. The curious thing is that Olivera profiles as a second or third baseman, and Ibanez, too, profiles as a second baseman. The Mariners have one of those, and they have a third baseman, too, and while it’s more possible than you might realize that something disastrous could happen at literally any moment, changing things forever, there’s planning for downside and there’s planning for complete and utter catastrophe. You don’t plan for catastrophes that leave you hopelessly shattered. You just let those catastrophes ruin you.
Now, about this workout: from the looks of things, Olivera and Ibanez were present, but they were not the only players present. Those other players, presumably, have their own talents, even if they don’t quite match up to the higher-profile individuals. It’s possible the Mariners could sign one or two Cubans from the workout, and it’s possible none of the signed players would be Hector Olivera or Andy Ibanez. The hell should I know? If I knew what the Mariners were going to do, I’d tell that to the Mariners, and they’d, I don’t know, do something. Maybe they’d try to do something other than what I predicted, but, I would’ve predicted that already, and — it’s complicated. I don’t really want to get into determinism here.
It’s only natural to let your imaginations run wild. That’s the whole appeal of these rumors and links. And I’m not going to try to stop you from getting ahead of yourself; do what you want, it’s a Friday afternoon. It’s baseball. It doesn’t matter. Here’s what we know: the Mariners are aware of a couple talented future Cuban imports, and they’ve put them through a workout. If Olivera and Ibanez were available to the Mariners for a few dollars, the Mariners would sign both of them, without any question. I guess that’s an assumption, not actual knowledge, but it’s a safe assumption.
But there’s a connection, and then there’s the rest. There’s interest, and then there’s signing a guy. There’s signing a guy, and then there’s worrying about how he fits. The most important thing is the general accumulation of talent. Worry about fits when the talent is actually in-house. Remember that, earlier this offseason, the Mariners were said to have made a run at Russell Martin, even though they already have Mike Zunino. Room can be made if room needs to be made. If the Mariners actually acquired Olivera, he’d fit somewhere. It’s not like anyone on this team is a near-lock aside from Cano and Seager, and someone who can play second base can play a lot of things.
And Ibanez? If the Mariners had Ibanez, he’d just be a prospect. Nothing to worry about. Should the Mariners just ditch the prospects they have who play positions currently occupied by good players? You should just about never worry about a blocked prospect. Miraculously, teams figure out ways to proceed. No baseball team has ever been contracted because it had too much talent at the same one or two places.
The Mariners watched some players work out. They wouldn’t have done that if they had 0-percent interest, so, their interest level might be rightly described as non-0 percent. It’s pretty easy to go from there to “the Mariners badly want one or both of these Cubans!” That would be really blowing this out of proportion. And remember, there’s nothing special about the Mariners’ situation — every team in baseball knows these guys. Many of the teams want them. The odds are highly, highly against the Mariners signing Olivera, or Ibanez, or both, or really anyone decently high-profile. When it’s the Mariners against the field, you always bet the field.
So, probably, nothing comes of this. Already it doesn’t seem like anything will come of this. This story was just a thing that came up that allowed you to think about anything else besides life for a few minutes during a week. That’s either the whole point of why we’re here, or the very opposite of it. I’m still trying to work that out, but I think I’m getting close to the answer.