The Mariners’ main offseason needs and pending roster decisions are outlined by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune…
- The M’s are expected to revisit trade talks with the Reds about Zack Cozart. The two clubs nearly agreed to a dealing deal that would’ve sent Cozart and a prospect to Seattle in exchange for minor leaguer Luiz Gohara and another prospect, but ran out of time prior to the August 1 deadline, in part because Cincinnati was busy with additional medical paperwork related to the Jay Bruce trade with the Mets. Cozart is only under contract through the 2017 season, so the door is still open for Ketel Marte to be Seattle’s shortstop of the future. Mariners officials think Marte “would benefit next season from taking a step back,” pointing to how James Paxton and Mike Zunino blossomed after taking a reduced role.
- Beyond adding Cozart or another veteran shortstop, Dutton identifies a right-handed hitting first baseman and a hard-throwing lefty reliever as the Mariners’ other big areas of need. Dan Vogelbach will form the left-handed side of the first base platoon, and Dutton speculates that the M’s could re-sign Dae-ho Lee to again serve as the right-handed first base bat. For external options, Dutton believes free agent Steve Pearce is a good fit for the M’s — Pearce mashes southpaws and provides depth at not just first base but potentially several spots around the diamond.
- In regards to the left-handed reliever, Dutton cites the Pirates’ Tony Watson as what the Mariners are looking for in a southpaw who is capable of filling a setup role or just situational work against left-handed hitters. Acquiring Watson himself may not be in the cards, though Dutton notes that the Pirates could look to save some money with Watson getting more expensive through arbitration. Internally, the M’s could use Ariel Miranda for this left-handed bullpen role, though the club prefers him as a starter for now.
- In a separate piece that breaks down every player on Seattle’s 40-man roster, Dutton writes that the Mariners are likely to non-tender Charlie Furbush and let Drew Storen walk in free agency. Tom Wilhelmsen, who is eligible for arbitration, also “could easily get squeezed out” given that he has fallen behind several other arms in the bullpen pecking order.
- The Mariners probably won’t pick up Chris Iannetta’s $4.25MM club option, leaving them looking for a backup catcher. Among internal options, Jesus Sucre is more affordable and has a good relationship with Felix Hernandez.
- “A new deal seems reasonably likely” for longtime outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who is headed for free agency. The M’s also have an interest in re-signing Nori Aoki, even though his presence creates a bit of a logjam with Gutierrez possibly returning and Seth Smith’s club option almost certainly being exercised. Dutton wonders if this could lead to Smith becoming a trade chip if Aoki is indeed brought back.