December 28, 2012
Friday, December 28
Mariners hope their biggest splash is yet to come
General manager Jack Zduriencik is cognizant of his fans’ wishes, and he told FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Thursday that he is “wide open” to further reinforcements for his lineup, ideally including a “leadoff man” and “middle-of-the-order bat.” Hamilton denied earlier this week that the Mariners were seriously involved in his sweepstakes, but Zduriencik said on the KJR 950 radio show, “Mitch in the Morning,” that Seattle offered him a four-year deal worth $100 million, with vesting options for 2017 and 2018. The competitiveness of that proposal is debatable, but the GM’s transparency eliminates any doubt that he has abundant payroll flexibility with which to continue improving the team.
That’s a good thing for Zduriencik, because—as Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller mentioned in response to a listener’s email on yesterday’s “Effectively Wild” podcast—Jack Z. is entering his fifth year at the helm, the point when, in most cases, a general manager can be held fully responsible for the state of his organization. Zduriencik’s seat may not be so hot that he would get sacked if the Mariners fail to earn a post-season berth in 2013, but a fourth consecutive losing season won’t be easy for the brass to swallow.
Based on Rosenthal’s description of Zduriencik’s holiday wish list, a certain dawdling center fielder seems a perfect match, as Ben noted in his overview of the possible fits for Bourn yesterday. The Mariners were first connected to Michael Bourn at the Winter Meetings, in this blog post by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, and most of the other teams that Heyman mentioned have since plugged their center-field holes. His bidding is most likely down to the Mariners and Rangers, and while his agent, Scott Boras, is in no hurry to finalize a deal, Zduriencik—given the aforementioned five-year window—might be every bit as desperate as his counterpart, Jon Daniels.
Some hesitation to commit big money to Bourn is understandable on Zduriencik’s part, considering that his four-year, $36 million hitch with Chone Figgins devolved into a fiasco. Coming off of a 7.2 WARP campaign for the Angels, the now-34-year-old Figgins cost the Mariners 2.4 wins over three seasons, before finally getting designated for assignment in November. Bourn is a similar player to Figgins, in that speed and defense play a significant role in his overall value, but unlike Figgins, he is an up-the-middle defender with a relatively clean injury history and a more consistent track record of 3.0- to 4.0-win production.
Another hindrance to signing Bourn, from Seattle’s standpoint, is that he declined a qualifying offer from the Braves, and thus would require the Mariners to cough up the 12th overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. As is evident from the top-10 list compiled by our prospect staff, Zduriencik’s system is teeming with high-ceiling pitchers but suffers from a dearth of impact bats, with last year’s first-rounder, catcher Mike Zunino, possibly representing a notable exception. Zduriencik, perhaps because of the importance of the coming year or two, was willing to part with the pick to sign Hamilton; whether he would surrender it for Bourn remains to be seen.