Now that they have officially landed Chone Figgins, the Seattle Mariners are intrigued by the idea of bringing back third baseman Adrian Beltre.
Should they - and if so, for how long and for how much?
The Phillies, fresh off a second consecutive World Series appearance, signed Placido Polanco for three years and $18 million last month, choosing him over Beltre to play third base.
Scott Boras argues that Beltre is the better defensive player, but the bottom line is the Phillies went with Polanco and set the market by doing so.
Beltre is reportedly looking for three years and $30 million, but that seems out of reach. The only three teams seriously pursuing him at this point are the Red Sox, Giants and Mariners. Boston has the payroll to bid high, but why would they?
Bottom line: They haven't. San Francisco isn't going that high and the Mariners? Jack Zduriencik has made it clear, with Russell Branyan and Jack Wilson, that he will offer only what he wants to offer. He won't be pushed.
Landing Figgins gave the Mariners a versatile player that can move around the field as the need arises, get on base and do something once he gets there. Zduriencik got his man.
Beltre is a player the Mariners like, a tough player who has battled injury and his own impatience at times. He's a Gold Glove caliber defender with 25-home run power, but he's not a No. 3 or No. 4 hitter for many teams.
What would you pay him, how long would you sign him for? Now that they have Figgins, the Mariners have options. If Beltre doesn't want what they're offering, they have a fine third baseman in house.
Zduriencik may have overspent to get Figgins, but he did so because he was a player the Mariners wanted - and because it gave Seattle leverage in dealing with other free agents, like Beltre.
Clearly, the Mariners are building a team they hope can contend in the American League West and beyond. If Beltre wants to be part of that, he'll have to come back on their terms, not his.
By the way, if you're looking for reaction in Southern California to the Figgins signing, here's a few stories to check out. The Los Angeles Times and another from MLB.com's fine writer, Lyle Spencer. And Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register looks at 12 Angels who got away - including, of course, Mr. Figgins.
Some other links:
- Left-hander Randy Wolf, offered only a one-year deal by the Dodgers, has a three-year, $27 million offer from the Milwaukee Brewers and could accept it today.
- Milton Bradley is being offered to everyone - twice! - by the Cubs, but the Kansas City Royals don't seem interested. It does make you smile, though, thinking about an outfield with Bradley in left field and Jose Guillen in right.
- One of the most pursued free agents this winter has been Oakland infielder Bobby Crosby, who a handful of teams see as a reserve infielder. The Pirates think they've signed him to a one-year, $1.5 million deal.
- The Twins need help at third base and are considering bringing Joe Crede back for a year. Most intriguing aspect? Minnesota isn't looking at Beltre.
- Oakland has been linked to free agent Hideki Matsui, especially in the Japanese media. John Shea breaks down what would have to happen to make that a reality - and it doesn' look like a match.
- Free agent John Lackey, the best starting pitcher in a shallow pool this winter, wants a six-year contract but isn't finding anyone willing to go there - including the Angels.
- Wonder how rumors are fueled? Check this out: when Zduriencik didn't comment on Jason Bay this week, the headline that followed was 'Mariners don't deny interest in Bay'. Well, it's true ...