Thursday, January 29, 2004
Posted 11:13 AM by Sean
The Tigers are reportedly on the verge of signing Ivan Rodriguez to a four-year deal. This is good news for the Angels; one of Pudge's other suitors was rumored to be the Mariners, who recently inherited a $9 million windfall when closer Kaz Sasaki decided to bail on his contract and go back to Japan. The Mariners are in something of a bind, in that just about all of the good free agents have been snapped up by now (you're welcome, M's fans!), but they need to do something with that money if they expect to compete with Anaheim and Oakland in 2004. Additionally, the Mariners' fan base is becoming increasingly agitated with management; their off-season was already being seen as a disaster, and if the organization just pockets the nine mil they're saving on Sasaki we might see pitchforks and torches at Safeco.
Rodriguez may or may not have gas left in the tank - I think he does, but that's not the point. The point is that I'm a lot more comfortable finding out if that's true with him in Detroit than I would be with him in Seattle. Rodriguez could've been a difference-maker up north, if everything had gone right - hopefully we won't get the chance to find out.
This leaves the Mariners with one real "superstar" option, which is trading for Kansas City's Carlos Beltran (who is in his walk year). But KC knows this, and also knows that they have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs out of the knock-kneed AL Central. So any trade they make with Seattle is going to have to net them guys who will help them both long-term and short term, and I don't think the M's can put together a package like that without making some deep sacrifices, perhaps too deep to make a one-year deal worthwhile. Beltran might be induced to do a trade and sign deal, in which he extends his contract with the Mariners, but God alone knows how much that would cost the M's in dollars, in addition to whatever it costs them in personnel.
The bottom line is that the Mariners are caught between a rock and a hard place on this one. If GM Bill Bavasi manages to spend that money on an impact player (or players), I'll be surprised.