Baseball’s winter meetings are here, a time where there is a lot of trades and free agent movement. Mariners’ fans are hoping one of the big players this week will be the Seattle Mariners. Having been passed by the Rangers, Angels, and A’s in the A.L. West, the team needs to improve their roster to catch back up. Even though Seattle’s record improved this season to 75-87, the offense again was the team Achilles’ Heal stopping any more improvement. Seattle has money to spend and great young pitching talent they could risk to bolster the offense. It’ll be an interesting week. Here’s what roster moves have already taken place.
Departures. The front office decided to let go of Chone Figgins with one year remaining in his deal. The move wasn’t a surprise as Figgins became a fixture on the bench with his offensive struggles. Never able to give Seattle a spark at the No. 2 spot in the line-up, Figgins only appeared in 147 games over the last two seasons batting .188 in 2011 and .181 in 2012. From his career with the Angels, his OBP dropped in Seattle sixty-one points (.363 to .302). The Mariners also in the offseason declined their option on Miguel Olivo making him a free agent. Olivo (.222, 12 HR, 29 RBI) became expendable with the emergence of John Jason and Jesus Montero. Seattle also parted ways with George Sherill, who was sidelined most of the season because of a left elbow surgery, and Kevin Millwood. Millwood, who gave the Mariners 161.0 IP (6-12, 4.25) and was part of a no-hitter, is deciding on whether to play another season or retire. Seattle also lost two young OFs in Trayvon Robinson and Scott Cousins. Robinson, the plum of last season’s Erik Bedard deal, couldn’t maintain constant playing time in the Seattle OF and was traded to Baltimore. He appeared in 46 games in 2012 batting .221 with 3 HR and 12 RBI. In 90 games as a Mariner, Robinson batted .215 with 5 HR and 26 RBI. Cousins never saw time with the Mariners, last making it up with the Marlins. The Angels claimed Cousins, a lifetime .183 batter.
Arrivals. Seattle’s biggest free agent signing to date was retaining Hisashi Iwakuma. Iwakuma, pressed into the rotation because of injuries, delivered in 2012 and will probably be slotted for the No. 3 spot in the rotation behind King Felix and Jason Vargas. He went 9-5 with a 3.16 ERA striking out 101 batters in 125.1 IP. The Mariners also re-signed relievers Oliver Perez and Josh Kinney to one-year deals. As I touched on earlier, the Mariners sent Trayvon Robinson to Baltimore for Robert Andino. Andino struggled at the plate last season, but the Mariners hope that he regains his 2011 form. In 139 games, Andino batted .263 with 5 HR and 36 RBI. An eight year veteran who has played for the Marlins and Orioles, Andino gives Seattle infield depth.
Rumors. It’s only the first day of the Winter Meetings but Seattle is being mentioned linked to several offensive players. The Mariners were rumored to be in talks with Mike Napoli, before he signed today with Boston. Seattle has talked to Kansas City about Billy Butler (.313, 29 HR, 107 RBI) with the Mariners having the young pitching that might attract the Royals to make a move. Seattle’s young pitching may also be attractive to Cleveland in landing Asdrubal Cabrera (.270, 16 HR, 68 RBI). The Mariners, along with Texas and Washington, are thought to be the main suitors for Adam LaRoche (.271, 33 HR, 100 RBI). Seattle has also been linked to the Pirates and Garrett Jones (.274, 27 HR, 86 RBI) in a possible trade. As a Mariner fan, this is what you want to hear. The Mariners can’t stand pat and expect to make up more ground in the A.L. West. They need to improve the offense and any of these bats would be a nice addition to give Seattle a much needed boost.