According to multiple reports, including one by CBSSports.com, the Mariners are discussing a potential deal with the Tampa Bay Rays involving acquisition of switch-hitter Ben Zobrist. The Mariners have also talked to the Rays about star LHP David Price. The talks have been underway for weeks as the Mariners seek to bulk up for a playoff run.
Price, a former Cy Young Award winner, would significantly boost Seattle’s rotation that includes Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. But Price’s agent, Bo McKinnis, told CBSSports.com at the winter meetings, when the Mariners first inquired, that Price doesn’t seek a trade to Seattle and wouldn’t sign an extension if traded. Price is signed through 2015 at $14 million, and would become arbitration-eligible this winter.
Zobrist would augment Seattle’s meager lineup of right-handed batters. Not having his best year, he’s still hitting .266 with six home runs. Zobrist is a career .263 hitter who hit 20 home runs in each of the 2011-12 seasons. He can play infield as well as outfield. And he’s affordable, making $7 million this year and $7.5 million next season.
When the Mariners discussed a trade for Price last winter, they refused to part with pitching prospect Taijuan Walker. But with the Mariners among playoff contenders, that position could change. Infielder Nick Franklin, who has been unable to secure a roster spot in Seattle and currently plays for the Tacoma Rainiers, has also been mentioned as a Seattle trade possibility. Franklin is a Florida native.
Another right-handed bat coveted by the Mariners, Marlon Byrd of Philadelphia, is not, according to CBS Sports.com, a likely trade option for Seattle. Byrd has a four-team non-trade clause, and the Mariners are one of the teams.