While seeking free agent talent, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said he would take the “high road” after a scathing Seattle Times story called his operation dysfunctional.
So the Mariners front office is willing to spend recklessly. That was made clear last week when it negotiated a soon-to-be-finalized 10-year, $240 million deal that poached second baseman Robinson Cano from the Yankees.
Rumors persist that Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik will make another high-profile move in Florida this week at the MLB winter meetings.
It’s new territory for a front office that recently finished a decade of traction-less activity.
According to a Tuesday report from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Mariners catcher Mike Zunino is possible bait in a trade for Tampa lefty David Price. Given that Zunino, 22, hit .214 in 193 plate appearances during his rookie season, Seattle would likely have to package more players to land the 28-year-old Rays ace.
Meanwhile, Taijuan Walker, Seattle’s prized flame-throwing right-hander, is apparently off-limits to potential suitors.
“He is very well thought of and we relish him,” Zduriencik said Tuesday on 710 ESPN radio’s Wyman, Mike and Moore show. “At the end of the day my thought is that Taijuan Walker is going to be a Seattle Mariner.”
Nobody has ruled Seattle out of the Shin-Soo Choo sweepstakes (Say “Shin-Soo Choo” sweepstakes” five times fast). The former Mariner hit .285 with .423/.462/.885 splits for the Reds last year, including 20 stolen bases and 21 home runs. Zduriencik said he’s had conversations with Choo’s camp this week but sounded unsure whether Seattle possesses the payroll to sign him.
“Someone is going to make a very, very nice offer to Shin-Soo Choo,” Zduriencik said. “Depending on where the dollars end up, there’s a breaking point for everybody. We made one huge sign. You’re not going to be able to go out and do two or three more. It just financially isn’t feasible for us. We’ll see what happens.”
Zduriencik is aggressively pursuing other free agents, reportedly offering Texas right fielder Nelson Cruz a five-year, $75 million deal earlier this week. Tuesday Zduriencik called the story “inaccurate.” However, he didn’t deny interest in Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, and reiterated his desire to land a pair of corner outfielders.
Tuesday Heyman reported that Seattle is struggling to decide if Kemp is worth trading for because of his injury history.
Zduriencik was also asked his reaction to Geoff Baker’s damning story depicting a dysfunctional Mariners front office in Sunday’s Seattle Times.
“I took it with a grain of salt. I read it,” Zduriencik said. “It is what it is. I’ve said what I’ve said. I sent my release out yesterday, and I don’t really have any more comments regarding that . . . (the former employees) did what they did and that’s their decision. My decision is take the high road as best I can.
“We’ve done exactly what we said we were going to do. We came in here. We had to rid some contracts. We had to build this minor league system. We had to do what we could to get young players to the big leagues. We’ve done that. And we’ve done it exactly within the budget we were given.”