With Ichiro, Brandon League, and Miquel Olivo gone, the Mariners have $26.5 million to spend. Trader Jack, the yet to be embattled GM of Seattle, said his priority is either a big bat for right field or first base and he wants a veteran presence. He said he is open to either trade or free agency.
When he says ‘a veteran presence’ it sounds like he wants a leader to headline a young team. That does not sound like Josh Hamilton of Texas and since free agency which is now open season for signings, does not look that strong for those positions. So a trade might be in the works. But who?
Rumors have circulated about sending Jimmy Paxton to Kansas City as part of a package for left fielder Alex Gordon or DH Billy Butler. While Butler, 26, may have the better bat and is younger than Gordon by two years, Butler would push Jesus Montero out of the picture. Montero is a DH-catcher who can play first base, but defensively would be a liability. The catching future belongs to Mike Zunino, so unlesss the Mariners are unwilling to trade Montero, a trade for Gordon is more likely.
But rumors are usually idle chit-chat, nothing but talk from people on the outside, looking through a knothole in the outfield fence. Trader Jack will deny any rumors, whether they are false or accurate, because talks about players are not trades until the paperwork is done, and Jack will not upset the bat rack until he signs the paper.
Jack wanted to make a splash last season, but didn’t. The same could happen this offseason. The Mariners payroll at the start of 2012 was $85 million, give or take a few thousand. They saved over $26 million as stated earlier and raised prices to further add some moolah. Payroll will go up with Jason Vargas arbitration eligible, who most certainly will make more than the $4.5 million he banked last season. Still, the Mariners have money to play with.
This is a make or break season. The Mariners must show progress. And it must be dramatic. It is imperative they be in a pennant race as fans are getting outnumbered by the seagulls flying around the Safe waiting for the few fans left to leave so they can swoop down for spilled food. The pickings have been getting thin according to Homer, the seagull flock leader. He too wants more fans, because that means more eating for his gulls. So Trader Jack better spend his money wisely.