After making several notable moves during the offseason, capped by the signing of former New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, the Seattle Mariners will begin second half play at 51-44 and in control of one of the two Wild Card slots in the American League playoff picture.
That being said, the Seattle front office is not content sitting pat, and is reportedly engaged in talks with the Tampa Bay Rays regarding utility man Ben Zobrist. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports wrote about the talks in a late night article on Thursday.
According to Jon Morosi of FOXsports.com, Seattle also has talked about the Rays’ superstar pitcher David Price as well as Zobrist, and such a combo certainly would transform the Mariners. However, to this point, Zobrist has been the main focus of the talks, with those discussions going on for weeks, league sources say.
The 33-year-old Zobrist was an All-Star in 2013 and even received some MVP votes in the two seasons prior to that. This year for the Rays, the utility man is batting .266/.352/.401 – which falls in line with his career numbers over his nine-year big league career, the entirety of which has been spent with Tampa Bay. He has been the epitome of consistency and reliability, appearing in over 150 games for the Rays in every season since 2009.
Heyman says that Zobrist offers a young Seattle team a ‘veteran presence’ in the clubhouse that could prove valuable as the second half progresses and the club competes for a playoff spot for the first time in years. As far as including Tampa Bay ace David Price in a trade, it still appears to be a long-shot, given the comments made by Price’s agent over the All-Star Break.
Price’s agent Bo McKinnis told Ken Rosenthal at the winter meetings that Price wouldn’t sign an extension in Seattle, and while Price said at the All-Star gathering Monday he’d leave those comments to his agent, he suggested he loves the south or somewhere near his Tennessee home. He kiddingly named the Nashville Sounds as his favorite team in answer to a question about his preferred locale.
Talks between Seattle and Tampa Bay headed south when the Mariners refused to include Taijuan Walker in a deal for Price during the offseason. It is, however, possible that the Seattle front office will be more aggressive, given the team is competing in 2014.