InsidethePark.com brings you the Mariners free agent watch, a feature that will be updated regularly throughout the free agent period. Check back on a daily basis for all the latest gossip on the M's top targets. With Richie Sexson NOW signed on the dotted line, are the M's any closer to landing a second big bat?
ADRIAN BELTRE, 3B
Beltre very well could be the best overall fit for the M's as they seek both offense and a long-term answer at third base. The concerns with the 25-year-old are much different than those of fellow third basemen Glaus and Koskie; Beltre is as healthy as can be. The questions surrounding his breakout season and the timing of his 48-home run campaign are simply whether he was more focused on earning a mega contract or simply figuring things out at the plate. Beltre's defense has improved greatly over the past several seasons and a gold glove could be in his future. Beltre is the perfect player to revitalize the M's roster on both sides of the white lines.
12/16: The Beltre Sweepstakes appears to be a two-team race between Los Angeles and Seattle at this point. The question is whether Beltre will be willing to leave Los Angeles, an area he loves, for more money in Seattle. If he's willing, reports are the Mariners could be very close to signing the blossoming star. Beltre is seeking a deal worth $12 annually, and the M's have reported put on offer on the table worth $60 million over five years. The Dodgers, according to GM Paul DePodesta, have yet to put a formal offer on the table.
12/14: The agent for Beltre, Scott Boras, is allowing the Dodgers more time to make a decision on how far they want to go in contract length and dollars. The problem seems to be, according to the LA Times, that the Dodgders do not want to wait and may bow out of the sweepstakes for the league's home run king.
12/13: The contract offer made by the Seattle Mariners to Beltre and his agent Scott Boras is still on the table and remains the top offer to the 25-year-old. The Detroit Free Press reports that the Tigers are also zeroing in on Beltre after The Toronto Blue Jays signed their other target, Corey Koskie, formerly of the Twins.
12/12: Three teams continue to battle it out for Beltre's services: Seattle, Detroit and Los Angeles. The Dodgers, however, appear to be planning for life without Beltre and have focused their attention on acquiring Tim Hudson from Oakland and signing second-tier 3B Corey Koskie. Beltre has stated he'd like to stay on the West Coast, and reportedly has a large 6-year offer from Seattle.
12/10: ESPN.com is now calling Seattle the favorite to land Beltre after the Seattle Times reported Friday that the Mariners have made a significant offer to the third baseman. Beltre, who is also being courted by the Detroit Tigers, would like to stay on the West Coast and with Los Angeles signing Jeff Kent on Thursday the M's likely will be able to offer the highest contract.
12/8: Beltre is said to be seeking a six or seven-year contract for somewhere in the $13 million range. The Los Angeles Dodgers offered Beltre arbitration on 12.7. Seattle, Detroit and Anaheim are thought have interest with LA and Seattle the favorites.
CARLOS DELGADO, 1B
The first baseman's left-handed power is ideal for Safeco Field and his overall offensive prowess could provide the Mariners with a legitimate no. 3 hitter for the first time since Alex Rodriguez
left for greener pastures. Even at 32 years of age Delgado has plenty left in the tank as evidenced by his second half when the career Toronto Blue Jay posted a 1.033 OPS with 22 home runs and 63 RBI. The Puerto Rico native carries a .389 lifetime average at Safeco Field and could force the M's to add the Hit it Here Café to the park's endangered signage list, not to mention the club's cost of batting practice baseballs. Defensively, Delgado is merely adequate but makes the routine plays and has sharpened his glove skills over the past few seasons. Delgado is an ideal choice to be the new anchor to the M's lineup.
12/16: Having signed Pedro Martinez, the Mets have turned their attention to Delgado and are close to offering him a four-year contract, reports Newsday. Meanwhile, Delgado's reluctancy to lower his contract demand of four-years, $64 million has Seattle setting its sights on Beltre.
12/15: According to the Seattle Times, there "is little movement in the Mariners' efforts to land third baseman Adrian Beltre or first baseman Carlos Delgado, with Beltre thought to now be a marginally stronger possibility than Delgado."
12/14: It's anyone's guess where Delgado will eventually sign, but what we do know is that the Mariners and Orioles continue to be the top two teams contending for his services. The Rangers are apparently out of the race now, not having the money to put on the table that other teams do. Delgado has indicated that if the M's sign Sexson it'll help his odds of signing in Seattle rather than hurt them. The Yankees and Red Sox are still in the picture.
12/13: Following Seattle's signing of Richie Sexson, Delgado's options may have been dwindled down to two; Baltimore and the New York Mets. The contract demands of Delgado and other sluggers on the market have drastically changed since the questionable contract handed to Troy Glaus by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Delgado remains an option for Seattle, according the Seattle Times and the Tacoma News Tribune.
12/12: Desperately needing to upgrade their offense much like the Mariners, the New York Mets made a three-year offer to Delgado late Friday, according to the New York Daily News. While the favorites to land the slugger include Seattle and Baltimore, with Texas a huge long-shot having made a low-ball offer, Delgado and his agent David Sloane have also made contact with the Yankees and Red Sox.
12/11: Various reports continue to have Seattle as the frontrunner to land Delgado, while Baltimore appears to the the main competitor for his services. The Yankees and Rangers both have a passing interest at this point, and that could change in the coming days if Delgado doesn't sign elsewhere.
12/9: The Texas Rangers extended a four-year offer to Delgado, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. While the offer was low, Rangers' GM John Hart said he felt his club had to make an attempt to land the slugger. The Yankees also remain in the hunt. "If New York comes my way and talks to me, obviously I'll consider it," Delgado told ESPN.
12/8: The Toronto Blue Jays declined to offer Delgado arbitration, forfeiting draft pick compensation from the team that signs their all-time home run leader.
ODALIS PEREZ, LHP
Perez had a solid 2004, though his low win totals would not show such success. The southpaw could pitch out of the third slot in the rotation, between right-hander Gil Meche and fellow left-hander Jamie Moyer
. Perez has never been a big strikeout machine, nor has he really been the horse of a starting staff, but he consistently produces quality innings and rarely explodes into bad streaks. The 27-year-old Perez would give the club a dimension the M's haven't cornered since the southpaw trio of Randy Johnson
, Jeff Fassero and Moyer sat atop the rotation in 1997.
12/15: The Seattle P-I reports that Seattle is looking at Perez, along with right-hander Kevin Millwood, as starting pitchers they'd be interested in adding to the rotation. Until now, the M's hadn't been considered one of the favorites to land Perez, but they may be a new player in the mix.
12/12: Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta spent Saturday talking with Perez's agent, but no deal was imminent by the end of the day.
12/11: ESPN.com is reporting that Washington has emerged as a leading candidate to sign Perez. The Nationals are using Jose Rijo, like Perez a Dominican, to do their sales pitch. Rijo is reportedly close to joining Washington's coaching staff.
12/8: Anaheim, Boston and Baltimore have shown the most interest outside of Los Angeles. Perez was offered arbitration by the Dodgers on 12/7.
CARLOS BELTRAN, OF
Beltran is the best player on the open market, combining 40-steal speed, power and average from both sides of the plate and borderline gold glove defense in center field. The 27-year-old may have played his way out of Houston with a dominating postseason performance. Seattle has made the call to Beltran's agent, Scott Boras, but most reports indicate that the M's are not willing to extend a 10-year contract offer to any player. If Boras reduces the asking price to the six and seven-year range, the M's could get involved. Beltran's addition would allow prospect Jeremy Reed
to slide over to left field where he could be a top defender.
12/11: The Houston Chronical reports that Beltran's agent Scott Boras opened talks with the Yankees on Friday. Meanwhile, the paper always reported that the Phillies have dropped out of the race for the jewel of the free agent market and the Mariners seem more focused on another Boras client, Adrian Beltre.
12/10: It may go without saying, but the New York Post reported Friday that if Anaheim signs Steve Finley to a two-year deal worth around $18 million as is believed, it will take the Angels out of the Beltran sweepstakes and leave the Yankees has the heavy favorite to land the prized center fielder.
12/8: While many offers have come in for Beltran, the negotiations have been slow as Boras awaits the mega deal. The Astros offered Beltran arbitration on 12/7.
J.D. DREW, OF
Drew is being marketed as a center fielder by agent Scott Boras, though it remains unclear if any club believes he could play the position and stay healthy at the same time. Drew's 2004 season was by far his best and the fact that he stayed off the disabled list all season is an accomplishment in itself. Drew is a Georgia native and prefers the eastern half of the country but for the right deal seems to be willing to play west of the Mississippi. The M's probably would be a last-ditch effort for Drew to get his five-year deal but it is unlikely that Bavasi sees him as a $10 million player. Should Drew slip through the cracks, the M's could bat him third and stick him in center field or play it safe and make him the starting left fielder.
12/11: ESPN.com is reporting that Detroit is the early front-runner in the J.D Drew sweepstakes. Drew spurned the Atlanta offer of three-years, $25 million last month and is looking for a five-year deal worth at least $50 million.
12/8: Drew's first choice was to stay home in Atlanta but the Braves did not offer arbitration to the former Florida State standout, opening the flood gates… maybe.
DEREK LOWE, RHP
Lowe suffered through 2004 by setting a career-high with 12 losses, and posted a 5.42 ERA that was the highest since his rookie year of 1997. Still, the tall right-hander managed to come through with one strong performance after another in Boston's dream run through the playoffs, helping raise his stock for 2005. For teams like the Mariners looking for a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher who can eat us some innings, Lowe's durability and big-game experience are two enticing qualities. Don't forget, also, that Lowe was originally an 8th round pick by the Mariners in the 1991 amateur draft and a part of the worst trade in M's history in 1997, going to Boston with Jason Varitek for pitcher Heath Slocumb.
12/13: According to several reports, Lowe could be among the first of Boras' clients to sign. Detroit and Baltimore remain the top contenders.
12/8: According to ESPN.com, Lowe is seeking a four-year, $48 million contract. He was offered salary arbitration by the Red Sox, meaning that any team that signs him (other than Boston) will have to forfeit a No. 1 pick in the June draft unless the team is in the top 15 in the draft. In that case, the team that signs him will give up a second round pick to Boston, which would also receive a sandwich pick (between first and second round). Detroit, Baltimore and Anaheim are the teams currently most interested in his services.
JEROMY BURNITZ, OF
Burnitz's left-handed pop would fit nicely in the middle of the M's lineup - the 1999 lineup (think left-handed Butch Huskey). The 35-year-old's Coors Field-aided numbers are tough enough to put a value on, let alone trying to evaluate what he might add to a club in a new league and a pitcher's park. Burnitz would be a stop-gap choice for Seattle at designated hitter and in the outfield but with the presence of Raul Ibanez
and Bucky Jacobsen
and a full outfield, the need for Burnitz is really rather limited, at best.
12/14: ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports that the Giants have shown the most interest lately in Burnitz. Meanwhile, Atlanta has also shown interest. Burnitz's agent Howard Simon is likely to be looking for a deal similar to those given to Jermaine Dye and Richard Hidalgo in recent days, somewhere in the $5 million range.
12/10: With Houston's chances of resigning Carlos Beltran all but lost, the Houston Chronical reported Friday that the team may look to Burnitz as a cheap, run-producing alternative.
12/8: Burnitz was not offered arbitration by the Rockies and is receiving interest from the Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants and New York Mets.
RICHIE SEXSON, 1B
Sexson has as much raw power as any player in the game and if healthy would provide a major power boost to the middle of the Mariners order. While right-handed hitters tend to suffer somewhat at Safeco Field, Sexson is one whose numbers wouldn't back down much. The Brush Prairie, Washington native does have a desire to play close to where he grew up and doesn't seem phased by the idea of hitting in what's perceived as a pitcher's park. The shoulder surgery Sexson had last spring is not expected to delay his 2005 plans to start the year at 100%. With the glove, Sexson is a solid first baseman, although he won't win any gold gloves anytime soon.
12/16: Sexson finally signed on the dotted line with the Mariners on Wednesday for a deal worth $50 million over four years.
12/15: The Washington Post reports that the Orioles are still in the hunt for Sexson, despite reports that he has agreed on a four-year deal with the Mariners worth $48 million. "We understand, certainly, there will be speculation," agent Casey Close told the Seattle Times, "but there's nothing complete at this point, and we're going to continue to talk to both clubs." The Orioles have reportedly offered a deal worth $45 million.
12/14: Not so fast. While it has widely been reported that Sexson has agreed to terms with Seattle, the Orioles still feel the deal isn't done and are aggressively pursuing the first baseman. The reports have had Sexson agreeing to sign with Seattle for anywhere between three-years, $33 million to four-years, $48 million.
12/13: Sexson has reportedly agreed to terms with the Seattle Mariners on a multi-year contract. Sexson is due to take a physical to complete the deal.
12/12: Mets' GM Omar MInaya is so confident that his team will be able to sign Sexson, that he reported told a rival baseball executive that should Boston sign Pedro Martinez the Mets will have the powerful first baseman "in the bag," according to the New York Daily News. Baltimore and Seattle both consider themselves the favorites to land the slugger, however. The Mariners met with Sexson and his agent, Casey Close, yesterday in Anaheim.
12/9: According to ESPN.com, the New York Mets have extended an offer to Sexson, their primary target at first base.
12/8: Sexson has offers from three teams, believed to be Seattle, Arizona and the New York Mets. The Baltimore Orioles have also expressed serious interest. The Diamondbacks offered Sexson arbitration on 12/7.
COREY KOSKIE, 3B
Koskie is perhaps the most gifted defensive third baseman on the market and adds a solid bat to the package. For the 31-year-old to fit the immediate needs of the Mariners, GM Bill Bavasi
will have to add two separate offensive pieces ahead of him, but anything is possible and with the competition the club has for the bigger bats, Koskie actually becomes less of an option. The Twins starter at third for their entire recent run in the American League Central Division, Koskie provides a secondary bat with 20-25 home run power from the left side- when healthy. Bothered by a bad back over the past few seasons, Koskie has spent time on the DL in each of the last three years but seems to avoid long-term stints off the active roster.
12/13: Has agreed in principal to a three-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, pending a physical.
12/12: Various reports, including one by the Seattle Times, have Koskie close to signing with Toronto for a deal worth as much as $20 million over three years. The Twins, Dodgers, Tigers and Mariners are the others in the running.
12/9: The Minnesota Star Tribune is reporting that Koskie is willing to resign in Minnesota for less money, but only if a no-trade claus can be put in place. The third baseman reportedly has an offer of $16 million over three years from unnamed club. According to the Tribune, Koskie would take a smaller contract in the $9-10 million range from the Twins if it included a no-trade claus.
12/8: Koskie has received serious interest from Toronto, Seattle, Detroit and the Twins and was offered arbitration by the Minnesota on 12/7. The Twins' final offer is reportedly 2 years at $8.25 million.
TROY GLAUS, 3B
Glaus' talents fit the dire needs of the M's to a tee; towering power to the alleys, a stern presence in the lineup, and a glove that plays the hot corner. Landing Glaus as piece No. 2 this winter would be an enormous accomplishment, especially considering that the former World Series MVP fills a gaping hole on the defensive side as well. The 28-year-old is not without a downside when a club such as Seattle comes calling for his services. Glaus has missed 175 games over the past two seasons due to back and shoulder injuries but has received a clean bill of health for the 2005 season.
12/10: Signed a four-year $45 million deal with Arizona.
12/9: According to the Arizona Republic, Troy Glaus has agreed to a four-year, $45 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Glaus, who was considered one of the two elite third basemen on the market along with Adrian Beltre, will be paid a $4 million signing bonus and make $8.25 million this season, $9.25 million in 2006, $10.75 million in 2007 and $12.75 million in 2008. His signing, which was announced today at Bank One Ballpark, likely means the Diamondbacks are finished negotiating with Richie Sexson
12/8: Glaus is in ongoing talks with the Arizona Diamondbacks about a possible three-year deal. The snags surrounding the contract are not so much financial or structure but what position Glaus plays. The club wants Glaus to agree to play at least "some" first base while Glaus and his agent want the starting third base spot guaranteed. The Anaheim Angels did not offer Glaus arbitration, ending his seven-year career with the team that drafted him out of UCLA.
CARL PAVANO, RHP
Pavano is one of the bigger prizes on the pitching market this winter and
how he fits with the M's financially remains to be seen. The right-hander
may end up being courted heavily by every big-market club in baseball,
including both New York teams and the World Champion Boston Red Sox
. The M's
aren't likely to go beyond four years for any starting pitcher this winter
and Pavano's interest level is still unknown. The soon-to-be 28-year-old
would immediately become the M's most reliable starter and the anchor of a
12/12: Pavano reached a four-year agreement with the Bronx Bombers on Saturday, a deal worth a reported $39 million. The imposing right-hander sighted "location" and "winning" as the two reasons for signing in New York.
12/11: The Star-Ledger reported Saturday that Pavano (big surprise) is close to signing with the Yankees for a four-year contract worth $42 million. Other reports have Pavano still considering offers from Boston, Seattle, Baltimore and Detroit.
12/10: ESPN's Peter Gammons is reporting that Pavano has narrowed his choices to the Red Sox, Yankees and Mariners, indicating the free-agent right-hander was very impressed with his visit to Seattle earlier this week.
12/9: According to the LA Times, Pavano chose to skip his stop in Anahiem on his free agent tour around the big leagues, instead flying back home to Montreal to resume winter workouts with his personal trainer. Pavano had visited the New York Yankees, Boston, Detroit, Baltimore and Seattle, and his agent says the Angels remain very much in the hunter for his services. According to The Palm Beach Post, Pavano has four offers on the table: Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore and Detroit. The paper also reported this interested tidbit: "Carl will not be a Marlin next year. No chance," said Florida pitcher A.J. Burnett.
12/8: The New York Yankees are aggressively negotiating with
Pavano and his agent, Scott Shapiro. Detroit and Florida have each made offers as well. The Florida Marlins offered Pavano arbitration on 12/7.
RUSS ORTIZ, RHP
Out of the crop of free agent pitchers, none have as many wins over the past four years – not Pedro Martinez
, not Carl Pavano
, Matt Morris
or Matt Clement
– as Ortiz's 67. At 30 years old, Ortiz is coming off a solid but unspecular season with Atlanta, going 15-9 with a 4.13 ERA that was his highest in four seasons. He has won 14 games or more in seven straight seasons, though, making up for average stuff with command of all his pitches and by aggressively attacking the strike zone. If signed by Seattle, he would instantly be inserted in the top of the rotation and allow the others at the back end like Gil Meche
, Bobby Madritsch
and Ryan Franklin
to slide down a spot.
12/12: Signed a four-year, $33 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
12/11: The Diamondbacks stayed active in the free agent market, to the surprise of everyone, by signing Ortiz to a four-year deal worth $32 million.
12/10: The Arizona Republic reported Friday that the Diamondbacks are close to signing Ortiz for a three-year deal worth around $27 million. It would be the second big move in two days for Arizona, which landed 3B Troy Glaus on Thursday.
12/8: Ortiz has received three offers, but according to his agent John Boggs "none have hit the mark yet." Seattle, Arizona, St. Louis, Cleveland and Washington are the leaders in the sweepstakes, but the team that gets him might have to overpay. After making $6.2 million in 2004, word is that Ortiz feels he's worth $10 million a year.