Rumors surround Seattle Mariners, Robinson Cano, David Price

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.comDecember 6, 2013 

Robinson Cano and now David Price?

Credit the Seattle Mariners with this much: They sure know how to stir up the hot stove rumor mill.

After emerging as the top alternative if Cano — an infielder for the New York Yankees and the winter’s top free agent who reportedly was headed to Seattle on Thursday — chooses not to return to New York, the Mariners were linked in a trade rumor to Price, the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner with the Tampa Bay Rays.

According to Yahoo.com’s Jeff Passan, the Mariners are well positioned to land Price, whom the money-crunched Rays are shopping, because they have the sort of young talent — specifically pitching prospect Taijuan Walker — to make such a deal potentially appealing.

Mariners general manager

Jack Zduriencik acknowledged Wednesday, without mentioning names, a willingness to trade some of the club’s much-prized young talent in an impact deal.

“You’d prefer not to,” he said, “but you never know how it’s going to play out. You don’t know how you’re going to cross that bridge until the discussions get very specific in terms of players.

“I do think we like the young core group of guys here. We like what we’ve done. We like the arms that are here. But, again, if you have an opportunity to make your ballclub better, you have to always keep the door open, always make yourself available for discussion and see where it ends up.”

Then came a little bombshell from Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com that the Mariners were willing to offer Cano a 10-year deal worth $230 million to $240 million.

Subsequent reports indicated that Cano asked for $240 million over 10 years, but the Mariners’ current offer is for less than $200 million. Even so, mutual interest is such that Cano is on his way to Seattle for face-to-face negotiations.

The Mariners are armed with significant and much-envied payroll flexibility. Their projected 2014 payroll for the current roster is roughly $50 million. They had a budgeted figure last year of $95 million and spent less, and Mariners chief executive officer Howard Lincoln has said there’s more in the budget for 2014.

Earlier this week, Zduriencik sounded like a man resigned to the reality of mushrooming costs in the free-agent market as he works to improve a 71-91 club.

“We’ve seen these things go the way they go,” he said, “and you have to adapt to the market. In some cases, if you have to stretch more than you want to, you just have to. There’s not much you can do about it.”

The only players to receive deals in excess of $225 million are Alex Rodriguez (twice) and Albert Pujols. Those were 10-year deals, too.

Before Rojas’ bombshell, all indications suggested the Mariners were unwilling to invest $200 million in just one player, preferring instead to make multiple additions.

Maybe nothing happens, of course. Lots of clubs are interested in Price, a 28-year-old left-hander who has two years remaining before reaching free agency. And most knowledgeable observers think Cano and the Yankees eventually will bridge their money gap.

But the winter meetings start Monday in Orlando, Fla., and things suddenly look interesting for the Mariners after four consecutive losing seasons.

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @TNT_Mariners

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