Look for the rumor mill to start churning faster this week because baseball’s general managers are gathering in Phoenix for their annual off-season meetings.
These sessions often set the stage for trades and free-agent signings that occur later in the offseason.
Already there are some chewable items concerning the Mariners, who make no secret of their determination to add one or more impact bats to bolster their lineup.
Here you go:
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***Many industry sources believe the Mariners will be the top competitor to Detroit’s efforts to retain designated hitter/first baseman Victor Martinez, an All-Star coming off the best season of his 12-year career.
This is no surprise if you’ve tracked the Mariners since the season ended.
Martinez is likely No. 1 on their wish list.
But signing him figures to be a tough hurdle because he received a one-year, $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Tigers.
Martinez rejected that offer prior to Monday’s deadline, which means the Tigers will receive an additional draft pick next June if he signs elsewhere. It also means any club except the Tigers would lose a draft pick.
The Mariners, if they signed Martinez, would lose their first-round pick — currently No. 21 overall.
Martinez, who turns 36 in December, is believed to be seeking a four-year deal at $60 million or more. That doesn’t mean he’ll get it, although some industry analysts believe the bidding could push it higher.
Whatever the price, the Mariners would likely need to beat Detroit’s best bid…and surrender their top pick…to land Martinez.
Ramirez, who turns 31 in December, received a qualifying offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers despite a somewhat disappointing season. Like Martinez, he rejected that offer prior to the deadline.
It will be interesting to see how that qualifying offer affects Ramirez’s market value. He made $16 million this season and is believed to be seeking a deal in the $100 million range.
A year ago, many players — including DH/first baseman Kendrys Morales, who rejected a qualifying offer from the Mariners — found their value severely affected because clubs didn’t want to surrender a top pick.
So Ramirez’s price could come way down.
***If the Mariners are willing to push $100 million in their roster-building efforts, that reignites the possibility of a trade with the Dodgers for outfielder Matt Kemp.
Multiple reports contend the Dodgers want to move a high-priced outfielder, either Kemp, Carl Crawford or Andre Eithier.
The Mariners have long had interest in Kemp, who is the only right-handed hitter among the three. The sticking point: Kemp, 30, is still owed $107 million over the next five years.
Rosenthal reported Sunday that the Dodgers are “willing to include anything from no money to significant money depending upon return” in a deal involving any of the three. That is consistent with previous reports.
So…depending on what the Mariners are willing to give up, Kemp’s price could come down significantly.
Hart, 32, labored through an injury-filled year while batting .203 with six homers and 21 RBIs in 68 games. He signed last December with the Mariners after missing all of 2013 because of two knee surgeries.
***Atlanta is looking to deal outfielder/catcher Evan Gattis, according to Joel Sherman of The New York Post and others.
Gattis, 28, fits the profile — a right-handed hitter with pop — of what the Mariners are seeking. He hit 43 homers over the last two years.
***Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik is expected to try to gauge trade interest in outfielder Michael Saunders over the next few days.
Saunders, who turns 28 later this month, is a left-handed hitter who doesn’t appear to fit with the club’s future plans. Even so, club officials believe Saunders has value; nothing suggests they are looking to just dump him.
One possibility is Toronto, which is looking for someone capable of playing left and/or center field. Saunders is eligible for arbitration, but his projected $2.9 million salary makes him a potential fit for many clubs.
Mariners ace Felix Hernandez will learn Wednesday whether he will win the American League’s Cy Young Award for the second time in five years.
Hernandez is generally viewed as a favorite for the award after being selected by his peers (the Players Choice Award) and league executives (The Sporting News) as the AL’s top pitcher.
The Cy Young Award is determined by a vote of 30-member panels from Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Balloting took place prior to the start of post-season play.
The BBWAA will announce the winners for each of its eight awards this week in a series of four nightly telecasts on MLB Network.
The Jackie Robinson Rookies of the Year will be announced Monday; the managers of the year on Tuesday; the Cy Young Award winners on Wednesday; and the Most Valuable Players on Thursday.
The other finalists:
*American League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year: Jose Abreu, Chicago; Dellin Betances, New York; and Matt Shoemaker, Los Angeles.
*National League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year: Jacob deGrom, New York; Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati; and Kolten Wong, St, Louis.
*American League Manager of the Year: Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles; Buck Showalter, Baltimore; and Ned Yost, Kansas City.
*National League Manager of the Year: Bruce Bochy, San Francisco; Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh; and Matt Williams, Washington.
*National League Cy Young Award: Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles; and Adam Wainwright, St. Louis.
*American League Most Valuable Player: Michael Brantley, Cleveland, Victor Martinez, Detroit; and Mike Trout, Los Angeles.
*National League Most Valuable Player: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles; Andrew McCutchen; and Giancarlo Stanton, Miami.
IWAKUMA ON FRIDAY
Plans call for Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma to start Friday in Tokyo for the Major League touring team in its five-game series against Japan’s national team.
It will be Iwakuma’s only appearance in the All-Star Series, which begins Wednesday in Osaka. He will be limited by the rules to 80 pitches.
“This is the very first (such series) in eight years,” Iwakuma told MLB.com, “and I'm participating in this event as a representative of Major League Baseball, so I feel very honored.
“I was really looking forward to coming back here as an American representative, so I'm very happy for that.”
Iwakuma spent 11 years at Kintetsu and Rakuten before signing with the Mariners prior to the 2012 season. He was 15-9 with a 3.52 ERA this season in 28 starts despite missing a month because of a finger injury.
“This is one of a very few chances that I have to show my pitching as a Seattle Mariner,” Iwakuma told MLB.com. “I'd like to let the fans enjoy my pitching, and I'll do my best.”
Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano is also on the MLB club.
The MLB team opens play at 1 a.m. Tuesday Pacific time with an exhibition game against a team composed of players from the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants in Osaka.
The actual series begins Wednesday in Osaka before continuing Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Tokyo. The final game is Nov. 18 in Sapporo. The tour concludes Nov. 20 with an exhibition game on Okinawa.