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The general managers’ meetings are going strong into their third and final day in Boca Raton, Fla. That means plenty of rumors circulating from the usual suspects of Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and Joel Sherman of they New York Post and MLB Network. This is their transaction time.

As expected, the Mariners and new general manager Jerry Dipoto have been mentioned often in the last few days. Why? Well, it’s a new regime and Dipoto is trying clean up a 25-man and 40-man roster in hopes of putting a team together more commensurate with his overall philosophy.

The immediate needs aren’t new. They’ve been discussed and debated:

  • Overall outfield depth with an emphasis on finding an every day centerfielder.
  • Catcher — finding a veteran catcher on a short team deal that can fill in until Mike Zunino figures out his swing
  • Pitching depth — re-signing Hisashi Iwakuma or finding another starting pitcher if they can’t and supplementing the bullpen particularly right-handers.

Dipoto hasn’t been shy about discussing those needs. Teams know it. So they are trying to work out deals.

Sherman had this story in the New York Post.

Brett Gardner was an all-star this past season and would fill the center field need … sort of. He’s probably better as a left fielder (not a great arm).  But he won’t be cheap in a few different regards. Sherman mentions that James Paxton might be the price to pay. Whatever you think of Paxton – fragile, unfilled potential, injury-prone – he’s still got immense talent. Left-handed pitchers that throw 97 mph with plus secondary stuff just don’t come around often. Yes, he’s been injury prone. But he’s also under club control and relatively cheap in cost, making the major league minimum. That’s a legitimate core piece to give up.

Gardner will also cost in terms of salary.  Here’s his contract from Cot’s Baseball

  • 4 years/$52M (2015-18), plus 2019 club option
  • signed extension with NY Yankees 2/23/14
  • $2M signing bonus
  • 15:$12M, 16:$13M, 17:$12M, 18:$11M, 19:$12.5M club option ($2M buyout)
  • assignment bonus: $1M if traded

That’s not insignificant money for a player that just turned 32. The Mariners have to keep in mind that Kyle Seager’s contract really kicks in after this season. The Yankees might pick up some of Gardner’s contract but that might raise the prospect return.

And there is this …

Trading for Hicks could give the Yankees some depth to walk away from Gardner.  Or it could just allow them to have an outfield of Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Hicks in right field with Chris Young a free agent.

 

Rosenthal mentions a few other names in center field for the Mariners,  including John Jay and Peter Bourjos of the Cardinals, Leonys Martin of the Rangers and Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr.

Let’s look at those names.

Bradley Jr. will have the highest price tag of the players for obvious reasons. He’s under club control for four more years and has the most potential of the group. There were rumors last season the M’s could have traded for Bradley Jr. for Charlie Furbush, but that was never on the table, according to several sources. Bradley Jr. had a strong second half of the season, seemingly starting when he torched the Mariners in a three-game series in Boston. He went 9-for-16 with five doubles and two homers in the series.  His strikeout percentage isn’t something that is an issue, but most scouts believe he’s still progressing as a hitter. With Mookie Betts in center, the Red Sox would use Bradley Jr. on the corners now that the Hanley Ramirez experiment in the outfield is over.

Jay is owed $6.22 million next season. But then becomes a free agent, so it isn’t a longterm commitment. Bourjos is lightning fast but has struggled as a hitter with the Cardinals. He’s also kind of the odd man out in the outfield and he wasn’t part of their rotation late in the season. The Cardinals may not tender him a contract because of that. He’s in the final year of arbitration eligibility.

Martin played himself out of his center field spot, losing it to a converted second baseman Delino Deshields. Martin will also be in his final year of arbitration eligibility and is projected to make over $3 million.

 

Morosi tosses free agent Gerardo Parra into the mix and even got Dipoto to make some comments about him. They were together in Arizona.

 

Dipoto said this about Parra to Morosi …

“Love him,” Dipoto said Tuesday, when asked about Parra at the Major League Baseball general managers’ meetings. “Gerardo’s a great kid. Love his attitude. He plays hard. He’s coming off a very good year. The version of what Gerardo did this year in Milwaukee is what we could have dreamed he was going to be when we had him at 18, 19 years old in the Diamondbacks system.

“He can really play defense. He can really throw. And he can rake right-handed pitching.”

Parra has played center field in his career. But his primary positions have been the corner outfield spots of late. He’s also been primarily a platoon player because of his heavy splits and struggles against left-handed pitching.

 

Video 

Here’s my segment discussing the Mariners’ offseason needs on MLB Network. Shirts with collars are not my friend, while it’s obvious that carbs are my best friend.