The search by the Mariners to obtain a starting pitcher continued to widen Wednesday as the Winter Meetings moved into their final hours.
"Nothing substantive, nothing imminent," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "I feel like we’ve set some stages, and I feel like we’ve made some progress. I don’t think anything is at a tipping point right now, but that’s how discussions go.
"You might think you’re not in the right ballpark and, 10 minutes later, you’re in the red zone. Anything is possible. We have had our fair share of activity and discussion. I’ll sure that will continue into (Thursday).
"And my guess is, if we leave here without filling our needs, it’s going to continue Friday and (next) week."
The Mariners’ list is now believed to include Cincinnati right-hander Anthony DeSclafani and Washington right-hander A.J. Cole, although neither one fits the organization’s previously preferred profile for a veteran starter.
DeSclafani, 26, was 9-5 with a 3.28 ERA last season in 20 starts for the Reds after missing three months because of a strained back muscle. He is not yet eligible for arbitration.
Interestingly, his closest similarity score in Bill James’ ratings is Taijuan Walker, whom the Mariners traded last month to Arizona. It was that trade that created the Mariners’ need for another starting pitcher.
Cole, 24, has even less experience at a mere 92 days of major-league service. He was 1-2 with a 5.17 ERA in eight starts last season for the Nationals after going 8-8 with a 4.26 ERA in 22 starts at Triple-A Syracuse.
The Mariners were previously linked to free-agent right-hander Doug Fister and several trade candidates: lefty Scott Kazmir and right-hander Brandon McCarthy of the Los Angeles Dodgers; and left-hander Drew Pomeranz and right-hander Clay Buchholz of Boston.
RULE 5 DRAFT
The Rule 5 Draft, the final event at the Winter Meetings, gets under way at 6 a.m. Pacific time on Thursday. They’ll be carried live on MLB Network if you want to watch over breakfast. And they go fast. They should be concluded within an hour.
The Mariners have the 18th pick but, as of Wednesday, they had no available space on their 40-man roster. Unless that changes — which is unlikely — they’ll be unable to make a selection.
"We’re at 40," Dipoto said. "We’ll probably be active in the minor-league version. Nothing in the majors."
Players are eligible for the draft if not placed on the 40-man roster after four pro seasons for players who sign their first contract when 18 or older. Those who are younger don’t require protection until after their fifth pro season.
The Mariners are one of 16 clubs that will be limited to the hard-cap minimum of $4.75 million next year in spending on bonuses in the international market under new rules put in place by the new labor agreement.
The 14 other clubs are permitted up to $1 million in additional spending because they are classified as small-market or small-revenue clubs. Bonuses of $10,000 or less do not count against a club’s cap.
The cap applies to players who are younger than 25 years old. While clubs are also permitted to trade their entire allotment, they can boost their cap limit by a maximum of 75 percent.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners