AL West Notes: Mariners, Balfour, Tanaka, Astros

There's been quite a bit of managerial buzz around the league with the large number of new openings, but all has been fairly quiet on the Mariners front until now. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Mariners will interview Athletics bench coach Chip Hale for their managerial vacancy. Hale hit .277/.346/.363 in 652 plate appearances over parts of seven Major League seasons (with all but 14 of his PAs coming in a Twins uniform). His impressive coaching background includes two years with the A's, two with the Mets and six seasons of minor league managerial experience with the D-Backs. Here's more out of the AL West…

  • The Athletics are "almost certain" to let Grant Balfour depart via free agency, writes's Jane Lee in her latest Inbox column. The A's typically don't spend big money on relievers, believing them to be too volatile a commodity. The door remains slightly open due to heavy competition for Balfour on the open market, as Joe Nathan, Joaquin Benoit, Fernando Rodney and Brian Wilson will all be free agents as well. In profiling Balfour last week, I pegged his market value at a two-year, $18MM deal.
  • Within his own Inbox column, T.R. Sullivan writes that the Rangers don't think as highly of Masahiro Tanaka as they did of Yu Darvish when they acquired his services two years ago.
  • The thumbprints of Astros GM Jeff Luhnow are all over the Cardinals, writes Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle. Luhnow says that he still has a bond with several of the Cardinals players he selected in the draft and tends to root for them, but he's currently focused on and excited for the Astros' future. Houston owner Jim Crane has repeatedly said that the Cards are the model franchise for the Astros.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

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