Like Richie Sexson earlier this week, Adrian Beltre is coming to town, sealed and delivered, but unsigned until he successfully passes a physical.
Like Santa Claus, Adrian Beltre is coming to town.
Like Richie Sexson earlier this week, Beltre is coming, sealed and delivered, but unsigned until he successfully passes a physical that should take place today.
Unlike Sexson, there is no shadow hanging over the health of Seattle’s new third baseman, no reason to think there will not be a news conference this afternoon to announce the signing of Beltre.
“We did a lot of checking (on Beltre), made a lot of calls,” one Seattle official said. “There doesn’t seem to be anything to be concerned about.”
By today, Beltre is expected to have the longest and most expensive contract in club history. The Associated Press reported it as five years for $64 million.
Asked for confirmation, a club executive said, “We don’t have it done,” but that a report in The Seattle Times yesterday that an agreement was close or might already be done was accurate.
The best a second club official would do was allow that Beltre and his money was “between $60 million and $65 million.”
The closest thing to a hangup is that Beltre will need a new number Bret Boone wears No. 29 for the Mariners.
In another take on this week of Seattle superlatives, the combined $110 million to $115 million to Beltre, 25, and Sexson (four years for $50 million) is the biggest dual outlay in club history, bringing back echoes of the $200 million combined the club was reported to have offered Ken Griffey Jr. ($120 million for 10 years) and Alex Rodriguez ($80 million for six years) at the end of the 1999 season in the futile effort to keep both.
“Wow, is about all you can say,” an American League scout said of the Mariners’ blowout spending spree. “These are two good signs. With them Seattle has addressed two of its biggest problems, run production and defense. If they can get someone capable for short, even if it’s the (Jose) Lopez kid improving as he learns the league, this will be as good an infield as there is with the leather.”
If Sexson, 29, stays healthy (and the word is that his problem shoulder is totally healed), the AL scout added, “Seattle has added two big bats to the lineup. Beltre might not hit 48 (homers) at Safeco like he did last season, but he’ll hit. And Sexson is a moose. He’ll hit them out of there in every direction.”
The scout estimated that Beltre might drop to 30 homers, but was willing to go 40 with Sexson, who hammered 45 in Milwaukee in both 2001 and 2003.
“That would be 70 between them,” he said, “and that has to look good to the Mariners, doesn’t it?”
That would look good to any team that hit only 136 homers last season, as the Mariners did.
Having added significantly to their offense and defense, the Mariners are holding a pat hand in pitching.
Except for bringing back Ron Villone, who is expected to accept the Mariners’ offer of salary arbitration by the Sunday deadline, there will be no more forays into the free-agent market for now.
“We’re done with free agents in the current market,” general manager Bill Bavasi said. “Later on, when it shakes out a lot more, we’ll see.”
With the roster at 40 and infielder Luis Ugueto dropped to make room for Sexson and someone to be dropped today (possibly pitcher Aaron Taylor) to make room for Beltre, the Mariners are most likely to add free-agent pitchers as invitees to the spring camp roster.
However, they might trade for pitching.
After this week’s work, Scott Spiezio and Randy Winn no longer have frontline positions. Spiezio lost his with a bad season in 2004 as well as the imminent addition of Beltre. Winn had a good season, hitting .286, but seemingly will lose out to Sexson.
Several clubs have talked with Seattle about Winn, most notably the New York Mets in discussions last week about shortstop Kazuo Matsui that went nowhere.
Because Sexson and Beltre both hit from the right side, left-handed-hitting Raul Ibanez, who prefers greatly to play in the field instead of be the designated hitter, is a strong bet not to be traded.
And the Mariners might lean toward Jeremy Reed, 23, in center field instead of Winn.
Unless a trade develops, most likely for Winn, the Mariners are done for the winter.
Having added Mike Hargrove as manager and five coaches and two stout free agents, that leaves only the usual roster work to be done, and that should not be as dramatic as last year.
This time last year, there was great internal debate over whether to tender a contract to lead pitcher Freddy Garcia by the annual December deadline.
The crisis was averted when Garcia accepted the same contract he had in 2003, for $6.8 million.
This year, the Mariners will tender contracts to pitcher Gil Meche and Jolbert Cabrera, their only arbitration-eligible players. They also are expected to tender a contract to Willie Bloomquist, a two-year veteran, who is not arbitration eligible but could get a jump in pay.
Bob Finnigan: 206-464-8276 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|1995||Santo Domingo (R)||218||8||40||.307|
|San Bernardino (A)||238||10||40||.261|
|1997||Vero Beach (A)||435||26||104||.317|
|1998||San Antonio (AA)||246||13||56||.321|
|2001||Vero Beach (A)||9||0||1||.444|
|Las Vegas (AAA)||5||1||2||.600|
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