Analysis: The MLB GM’s meetings are over. Here is the continuation of the Mariners

After four days of feeling the warmth of the Southern California sun at the Major League Baseball GMs meeting and listening to MLB executives and high profile agents lament the impending lockout on December 2 and the transaction freeze that would coincide with it, it left most people with two glaring achievements:

  • That if money weren’t an issue, few would find many reasons to leave the San Diego area, especially to return to an urban rainforest in the Pacific Northwest in November.
  • No one is quite sure what will happen with free agent markets and potential trades due to this expected lockout.

This is far from an ideal situation for general manager Jerry Dipoto in an offseason where the organization had big plans to acquire impact talent and build a 2021 season where the Mariners have defied below expectations. average to finish 90-72 and were eliminated from the playoffs on the final day.

While he has never had so much financial flexibility and freedom to shop in places other than the sale or liquidation aisles, the uncertainty of ABC’s expiration might not allow Dipoto to be his typically aggressive self.

So while he said “business as usual” several times in meetings when asked about handling this offseason, the market might not allow it, especially leading free agents.

There was a belief pervading throughout the GM meetings that high-level free agents in the market would wait until a new collective bargaining agreement between the owners and the MLB Players Association was reached, hopefully d ‘here February 1st. A frenzy of free agent signatures would soon follow.

Right now the only major free agent signings are left-handed pitchers Andrew Heaney heading to the Dodgers on a one-year, $ 8.5 million contract and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez accepts a 77 contract. million dollars over five years with the Tigers on Monday. Morning.

The positional player market, which has been as strong as any class for years, has not had a major signing.

Because they’re looking to add impact hitters from the pool of talented freefield players to play second base, third base, or both, the Mariners know they might not be able to get that signing.

Why?

They need at least one of the coveted infielders – Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Kris Bryant, Trevor Story and Javier Baez – to sign a free agent contract to define the market and the others will follow.

But could one or two of these top-tier free agents sign by December 1, perhaps to revive the market over the next two weeks?

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that Seager and Semien are looking to sign by December 1 to avoid potential chaos after the lockdown.

The Mariners love both players but have a very strong interest in Semien, which fits their needs perfectly. Both players are represented by well-known agent Scott Boras, who also represents the ultra-versatile Bryant.

Dipoto had an extended meeting with Boras and his representatives at GM meetings to discuss available hitters.

He also met with Excel Sports Management, the agency that represents Story and Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. The Mariners believe Story would be a logical choice at second base to play alongside shortstop JP Crawford. And many scouts believe Story’s recent arm issues make him a better fit at second base to keep him healthy.

Sources said the Mariners have yet to meet with representatives from Correa. Given that Dipoto has made it clear that Crawford will not be moved from the shortstop and that any signing midfielder will be invited to play on second or third base, the belief is that Correa is not suited. Although he said this spring that he would be ready to move to third base in his future, sources indicate that the posture is not necessarily in line with his actual requirements.

The 27-year-old former No.1 pick wants to stay shortstop and he wants a contract beyond seven years. Some industry sources believe he wants something close to the 10-year, $ 341 million contract extension his good friend Francisco Lindor signed with the Mets.

While few experts believe Correa will get that much, some believe he is looking for at least an 8-9-year contract with an average of $ 30 million per season and an opt-out.

That kind of long-term commitment doesn’t necessarily work for Dipoto and the Mariners. After his owner forced him to sign a 10-year, $ 240 million contract with Albert Pujols when he was Angels general manager and inherited Robinson Cano’s 10-year, $ 240 million contract when he came to Seattle, he also publicly opposed the withdrawal. clauses in most cases.

Dipoto and the Mariners are said to be more than willing to pay a higher annual salary and avoid a longer engagement.

It’s hard to see them offering a free agent a guaranteed contract for more than seven years, especially when most free agents are around 29 or 30 years old.

For a player like Semien, who just turned 31, a five-year contract with one option year would push back the duration component. And yet, that may be what Seattle needs to do to secure its services. The idea is that the Mariners may have to offer him a five-year $ 140 million to $ 150 million contract to keep him from going to San Francisco or New York on a four-year contract.

In 2015, Nelson Cruz had several three-year contract offers to choose from, but Seattle came in with a four-year, $ 58 million contract and landed the designated hitter.

It’s unclear how the lockout could affect trade negotiations between the teams. Dipoto has made it clear that they would be interested in acquiring one of the A’s players who are available. Sources say the Mariners would like to acquire third baseman Matt Chapman and one of their pitching trio – left-hander Sean Manaea and right-hangers Frankie Montas and Chris Bassitt.

There’s still the dream of acquiring Pirates center fielder Bryan Reynolds, who, at 26 and with three years of umpiring eligibility remaining, fits their rebuild perfectly. But past investigations have been met with a request to leave from mega-prospect Julio Rodriguez, who was not leaving.

But are these talks dead until an ACA is finalized?

In the Mariners’ biggest and most anticipated offseason in recent memory, it could be a long, cold winter and not their fault.

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