Several reports emerged early this morning suggesting that new Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto is hard at work canvassing the market for center field options. Here’s the latest:
- Seattle has engaged with the Yankees in preliminary talks regarding Brett Gardner, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. The 32-year-old faded down the stretch, but nevertheless ended the season with a typically productive overall effort. He’s owed $38MM over three years (including a buyout of a 2019 option), which isn’t exactly cheap but is probably below Gardner’s open-market value. Sherman indicates that New York is in search of controllable starters, and says that the M’s have indicated they are willing to discuss lefty James Paxton in trades. It’s not apparent from the report, though, whether he would play any role in talks on Gardner.
- The trade route to a center fielder seemingly holds appeal for Dipoto and his staff, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. (Of course, the club could also just be exploring its options on that market before turning to free agency.) Rosenthal suggests a variety of possible trade targets: Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos of the Cardinals, Leonys Martin of the Rangers, and Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Red Sox. It’s not clear whether the M’s have specific interest in any of these players, let alone whether actual trade chatter has taken place. It’s worth noting, also, that an acquiring team would likely feel the need to supplement any of these players with a capable reserve option (if not an outright platoon mate, in some cases). It’s not yet clear whether Seattle is inclined more towards that kind of scenario as opposed to a single solution.
- Free agent Gerardo Parra represents another possibility, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writes. Dipoto heaped praise on the 28-year-old, noting that he was coming up through the Diamondbacks system when Dipoto was in Arizona. “Love him,” Dipoto said of Parra. “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.” Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean Seattle will pursue Parra. It’s worth bearing in mind that the left-handed hitter not only carries rather pronounced platoon splits, but has spent most of his time in the corner outfield — especially in recent seasons. Morosi doesn’t make a suggestion for how the M’s could theoretically deploy Parra, but he might make more sense as a heavily-used fourth outfielder than a regular in center.