If the Mariners acquire a starting pitcher this week at the Winter Meetings, general manager Jerry Dipoto indicated it will likely be through a trade and not a free-agent signing.
"I feel that is the most likely scenario," he admitted, "that if we do anything here in D.C., it will be via trade."
Dipoto indicated the Mariners prefer to let the free-agent market stabilize, which might delay a decision "perhaps until January." But he acknowledged trade talks are ongoing.
"We’ve had a fair amount of discussion today," Dipoto said, "both in our (hotel) room — in talking about a couple of different targets — and in talking to a couple of different teams. But nothing, I would say, is imminent."
Even so, two trade possibilities surfaced Monday, when the annual Winter Meetings opened a four-day run just south of Washington, D.C., at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.
Both appear to fit the Mariners’ preferred profile for a veteran starter capable of slotting into the middle of their rotation — although both come with major injury concerns and a hefty price tag.
As for free agents, the Mariners continue to show interest in right-hander Doug Fister but don’t seem to regard right-hander Colby Lewis or lefties Derek Holland and C.J. Wilson as viable acquisition targets.
Kazmir, 32, is a 12-year veteran who was 10-6 with a 4.56 ERA last season in 26 starts, although he made just one appearance after Aug. 22 after being diagnosed with thoracic spine inflammation.
McCarthy, 33, is an 11-year veteran who missed much of the last two seasons while recovering from major elbow surgery. He returned last July and went 2-3 with a 4.95 ERA in 10 games, including nine starts.
Both are under contract for the next two years — Kazmir for $32 million, and McCarthy for $20 million — but it’s believed the Dodgers would be willing to eat a portion of those salaries.
Any interest by the Mariners, presumably, would require salary relief but, under Dipoto, they have been willing to acquire players they view as bounce-back candidates.
They have also made four trades with the Dodgers in Dipoto’s 14-plus months as general manager, including a deal last month to acquire catcher Carlos Ruiz.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners