M's Expected to Add to Roster in Dallas

The winter meetings begin in a matter of hours, and the cast of thousands has already gathered in Dallas. The deals are already floating, and many could be consummated by week's end, including a deal or two from the Emerald City Nine.

While the A.J. Burnett sweepstakes come to a head with a handful of clubs still in the running, the Mariners are sitting back and playing their cards.

Whether GM Bill Bavasi turns over an ace or not, remains to be seen, but several sources believe the M's are waiting it out and planning to strike with an offer or two that surprises all involved.

While it's not expected to be enough to land Burnett, who's known to prefer Baltimore, Washington or St. Louis, it may put them in the mix for right-hander Kevin Millwood.

But the buzz surrounding the Mariners is of the trade variety, as told to InsidethePark.com Sunday evening.

"They aren't making headlines with anything yet, but something is going on," said a representative of a prominent player. "About half the things I hear that don't involve Manny or Burnett have the Mariners attached. A few smaller deals, and one or two that would make big news."

One official of a National League West team believes the M's will strike a few times during the stay in Dallas, and thinks his club might just be one of the matches that Seattle finds to their liking.

"We've talked to them about a few areas of need," he said. "Nothing is close but down here things move pretty fast. They aren't in a hurry and neither are we, but I think something is going to get done this week."

One agent was telling people at the luncheon on Sunday that the Mariners are his "sleeper" pick to nab Millwood and make a sneaky deal for a bat.

"They are going to add at least two players to their roster by Friday," said a front office executive. "Anything big will probably have to wait, but he (Bavasi) seems to want to get some of the little deals out of the way."

Seattle is said to be monitoring the trade market for a left-handed bat and starting pitching, in case they strike out on the open market, but the consensus seems to be that the offense will come later in the month with pitching taking center stage.

"Once A.J. signs, the dominos will begin to tip over," said one personnel director. "Most teams are focused on getting their pitching set before they look at other areas - except the Mets - so it might be a few weeks before guys like (Geoff) Jenkins, (Lyle) Overbay and other hitters are dealt away."

The Mariners aren't going to panic if Burnett and Millwood ink deals to play elsewhere, so don't expect Bavasi to be the one to offer either pitcher the "bad deal of the offseason."

But expect the M's to make some news in the great state of Texas, though the additions may not follow the state's legendary motto.

So maybe not everything is bigger in Texas.
Notes: The M's inquired about Tampa Bay left-hander Casey Fossum and were told he wasn't available... The same is being told to all clubs who ask about Geoff Jenkins in Milwaukee and Brad Wilkerson in Washington... If the M's turn their radar toward a right-handed bat, Austin Kearns can be had for a mid-level starting pitcher and a bullpen arm... Former M's scout Charley Kerfeld, who left the club after the 2004 season for the same position with the San Diego Padres, has accepted a position with the Texas Rangers as a special assistant to new GM Jon Daniels.

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