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News » Baseball's winter meetings Mariners off to Vegas with new shopping list


Baseball's winter meetings Mariners off to Vegas with new shopping list


Baseball's winter meetings Mariners off to Vegas with new shopping list
Baseball's winter meetings Mariners off to

Vegas with new

shopping list

GEOFF BAKER

THE SEATTLE TIMES

LAS VEGAS --The difference 12 months has made for the Seattle Mariners should be hammered home this week.

A year ago in Nashville, Tenn., former Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi spent the Baseball winter meetings discussing a future trade that brought Erik Bedard to Seattle from Baltimore. That deal was supposed to solidify the Mariners' starting rotation and supply the final puzzle piece for a championship run.

One year later, a new general manager and humbled organization head to Las Vegas' Bellagio Hotel with a different winter meetings agenda. The Bedard trade has strengthened the team's pitching depth. But novice general manager Jack Zduriencik will likely need to trade some of those arms to help his power-deprived offense avoid another disastrous collapse.

"Open-minded is, I think, the best way to put it," Zduriencik said of how he's approaching these meetings, which run today through Thursday. "It takes two to tango. I'm not in the mood to give anyone away. I'm in the mood to improve this ballclub."

There can be no sugarcoating how bad the Mariners were offensively during their 101-loss season. Seattle was tied with Oakland for the second-worst on-base percentage in the major leagues (.318) and had the fourth-worst slugging percentage (.389).

And now, things could get worse.

Free-agent left fielder Raul Ibanez is expected to decline Seattle's offer of arbitration by today's deadline and head elsewhere. The team's next-closest thing to an everyday power hitter, Adrian Beltre, is a free agent after 2009 and is expected to draw some trade offers this week.

"They look like a team that needs to make a blockbuster trade," said one veteran major-league scout. "You look at what their needs are --hitting. And you look at what they have to deal --pitching. It shouldn't be too hard to find a match."

The scout suggested that the team need look no further than Zduriencik's former team, Milwaukee, to find a trade partner that could fix a lot of what ails Seattle. The Brewers are about to lose free-agent pitchers CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets and need help in the bullpen.

That could be solved by trading for some of Seattle's arms, including J.J. Putz, Jarrod Washburn, Brandon Morrow, Ryan Rowland-Smith, and even Bedard.

And the Brewers are loaded with bats the team might be willing to part with.

The biggest Mariners names drawing interest around the game on the hitting side are third baseman Beltre and catcher Jeff Clement.

It's almost certain the M's would not trade Felix Hernandez. Nor is it likely owner Hiroshi Yamauchi would OK a trade of Ichiro Suzuki.

ILLUSTRATION: Zduriencik Has plenty of pitchers, will trade


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 9, 2008

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