Reports yesterday indicated that the Mariners have placed their talks with outfielder Nelson Cruz on hold, and this morning, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that they're now trying to add another starting pitcher either via trade or free agency. Seattle has touched base with both Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez but is surveying the market in order to find the best fit (Twitter links). Rosenthal adds that it's unclear how the pursuit of a starter will impact their involvement with Cruz, but it's fair to wonder if the team could afford both Cruz and one of Santana/Jimenez at this stage of the offseason.
While the Mariners have been connected to starters for much of the offseason, it's no surprise to hear those rumors fire back up again in the wake of a finger injury that will cost Hisashi Iwakuma at least the next four to six weeks. The 32-year-old Iwakuma followed up a strong rookie campaign with an explosive sophomore season that saw him finish third in the AL Cy Young voting — five spots higher than his teammate and co-ace, Felix Hernandez. Iwakuma turned in a stellar 2.66 ERA with a 48.7 percent ground-ball rate, 7.6 K/9 and just 1.7 BB/9 in 219 2/3 innings for Seattle last season.
The Orioles and Blue Jays are also in the mix to add a starting pitcher at this juncture of the offseason, and each has been connected to both Santana and Jimenez. The Orioles did agree to terms with Korean right-hander Suk-Min Yoon on a three-year deal yesterday, but the small $5.575MM guarantee on that pact shouldn't preclude them from pursuing additional arms, if they feel the price is right.
Should Seattle look to the next tier of remaining starters, Chris Capuano could be available on a one-year deal after a pair of solid seasons that saw him post a 3.91 ERA in 304 innings with the Dodgers. Of course, the trade market offers numerous options as well, although at this point it seems too late for the Mariners to cash in on their previous interest in David Price.