For Mariners Its Going to Take More Than Robinson Cano

Mariners RumorsThey boast one of the best starting pitchers in baseball (Felix Hernandez) and now one of the best all-around players in the game (Robinson Cano), yet as the Seattle Mariners’ roster is currently composed, it is arguably their four-best in the five-team American League West.

Considering that they invested a staggering $240 million to Cano over the next 10 years, the Mariners appear interested in seriously contending in 2014. For that to happen, they need more monumental splashes off the high dive, and the next leap could happen at the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings, which starts in Orlando on Monday.

Even with Cano, Seattle’s lineup is starved for offense. Perhaps Cano’s presence will sway free agent DH Kendrys Morales to return on a multi-year deal. Free agent outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz are potential targets for the Mariners, as is Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who might be available via trade and is owed six years and $128 million.

Kyle Seager, who is 26, is a promising power-hitting third baseman who slugged 22 home runs last season. Brad Miller, a 23-year-old infielder who was Seattle’s second round pick out of Clemson in 2011, is a bright spot at shortstop. Mike Zunino, who was the third overall pick out of the University of Florida in the 2012 draft and is just 22, is one of the best catching prospects in baseball and is slated to start behind the plate for the Mariners in 2014.

Mariners Rumors

GM Jack Zduriencik

The aforementioned players have a chance to emerge as valuable pieces in the Mariners’ lineup, but they are mostly unproven, Cano needs more bats to surround him. Seattle is a team to add at least two more bats with pop.

They can accomplish this via free agency (Choo or Cruz would upgrade an outfield that currently has Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley and September callup Abraham Almonte). Or they reach into their cadre of pitching prospects and middle infielder Nick Franklin as part of a package of prospects to land Kemp.

Those same prospects, including pitchers Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, could also be shipped with Franklin and other minor leaguers to Tampa Bay for prize left-handed starting pitcher David Price. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Rays will deal Price, but Rays GM Andrew Freidman will wait for the right offer.

A source confirmed with BNS –  “I know Andrew has a price and if he gets it… There will be a trade…if not then we will take him into next season”

The right-handed Walker and the left-handed Paxton would bolster an already deep and talented group of young starting pitchers with affordable long-term team control in Tampa Bay. Then the Rays front office could ship pitching prospect or two to yield a bat since they need a first baseman and a DH.

Franklin could play second base for the Rays and the club could move the versatile Ben Zobrist to another position. Though he has limited experience there, perhaps he could don a first baseman’s mitt.

Seattle’s rotation includes Hernandez and fellow right-handed Hisahi Iwakuma. Erasmo Ramirez, Brandon Maurer and Paxton are projected to round out the rotation in 2014. Since the club’s batting order will have question marks even if it signs a Choo or Cruz to accompany Cano, trading for Price makes sense. The Mariners could shut down opposing lineups with exceptional starting pitching and hope to scratch together enough runs to win. Price would feel like he never left Tampa Bay, except for the dreary Seattle skies.

Seattle General Manager Jack Zduriencik is not likely done making those big splashes. One with a free agent bat and the other through trading for Price would create added excitement for Mariners fans.