The search continued Tuesday for the Mariners at the Winter Meetings in their quest to find a veteran mid-rotation pitcher. Some new leads but, seemingly, no real traction.
"I feel like we’re making some progress," general manager Jerry Dipoto said, "but nothing is imminent."
The Mariners are already linked to free-agent Doug Fister, a right-hander who pitched last season at Houston, and two bounce-back trade possibilities on the Los Angeles Dodgers: lefty Scott Kazmir and right-hander Brandon McCarthy.
They are now expected to contact Boston regarding its potential surplus arms after the Red Sox acquired left-handed ace Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox for four prospects.
Lefty swingman Drew Pomeranz, in particular, appears to fit the Mariners’ preferred profile. Pomeranz, 28, is a six-year veteran who was 11-12 with a 3.32 ERA last season in 31 games for San Diego and Boston.
The Red Sox are believed to be seeking a left-handed bat or prospects to replenish their farm system.
Buchholz is, by far, the most expensive option. He is under contract next season for $13.5 million in completing a four-year deal. Pomeranz is eligible for arbitration after making $1.35 million. Wright is not yet eligible for arbitration.
A starting pitcher is the last item on the Mariners’ off-season checklist, and Dipoto indicated the club is in no hurry to address the need.
"We could go make a move," he said. "We’re just not going to make a move until it’s a move that we want to make. Right now, our goal is to find someone who makes us feel a little better about the stability of our starting five in the big leagues."
LEWIS MAKING PROGRESS
Outfielder Kyle Lewis interrupted his rehab program in Arizona to attend the Baseball America Awards Gala to pick up his award as the college player of the year.
Lewis, 21, was the Mariners’ first-round pick last June in the MLB Draft and was 30 games into his pro career at Short-A Everett when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in a collision at home plate.
"I’m doing great," he said. "It’s been exciting to see the progress that I’ve been making. I just started jogging. Once you get over that first (mental) hurdle, it’s just working to get up to 100 percent. I feel like I’m on the right path."
Lewis’ recovery timetable remains fluid, but he is expected to return to the field by midseason. He batted .299 prior to his injury at Everett with 16 extra-base hits and 26 RBIs.
"We think he’s a little bit ahead of schedule in terms of coming back," Dipoto said, "but we’re not going to rush him. The likelihood is we’ll see him at some point in the month of June on the field."
Add pitchers Edwin Diaz and James Paxton to the list of confirmed participants next year in the World Baseball Classic. Diaz will pitch for Puerto Rico, while Paxton is slotted as Canada’s top starting pitcher.
First baseman/outfielder Danny Valencia is also expect to play for Israel.
Major League Baseball previously confirmed pitcher Felix Hernandez will play for Venezuela, and that second baseman Robinson Cano and designated hitter Nelson Cruz will play for the Dominican Republic.
Dipoto said the Mariners are making adjustments to their spring plans in anticipation that other players will participate in the 16-nation tournament, which runs from March 6-22.
"We’ll probably be a little quicker to get to our team fundamental work," he said. "We want to make sure that group is all together because we will have a larger contingent going to the WBC.
"We’ll probably bring extra players. We want to make sure we have those innings covered in the spring. We’ll get a long look at some kids from the minor-league satellite camp, and we’ll bring more pitchers to our major-league camp."
O’NEILL TO GET INVITE
The Mariners haven’t yet released their list of non-roster invites to big-league camp, but Dipoto confirmed the list will include outfielder Tyler O’Neill.
That’s no surprise.
O’Neill, 21, was picked as the organization’s top minor-league hitter after batting .293 with 24 homers and 102 RBIs in 130 games at Double-A Jackson. He was picked earlier this week as one of the top prospects in the Arizona Fall League.
"We’ll give him an opportunity to see what he can do," Dipoto said. "The great likelihood is he starts in (Triple-A) Tacoma."
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners