The Seattle Mariners are looking at more big names on the free agent and trade markets after signing Robinson Cano to a 10-year contract, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman reports that, while they are interested in adding a "big-time" outfielder, their "top priority" is prying starting pitcher David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Mariners may also be willing to deal some of their promising young players as part of a win-now strategy, reports Heyman. Heading that list is second baseman Nick Franklin, who was displaced by Cano. Heyman claims that Franklin is "likely to go."
Seattle has many other intriguing youngsters, including outfielder Michael Saunders, second-baseman-turned-center-fielder Dustin Ackley, first baseman Justin Smoak, and top pitching prospects Taijuan Walker and James Paxton.
If the Mariners choose to cash in some of those trade assets, then Heyman suggests that they might have interest in Dodgers outfielders Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier. Alternatively, they also may target free agents Nelson Cruz or Shin-Soo Choo. However, their sights are set on Price, who, if paired with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, would give Seattle one of the most formidable starting rotations in baseball. The cost for Price is expected to be high, so the Mariners would likely have to part with a lot in order to land him.
Nationals looking for a left-handed reliever
The Washington Nationals are looking for a left-handed reliever, according to Heyman. While Heyman listed Boone Logan, Oliver Perez and J.P. Howell as possible targets, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports later reported that the team was making a "strong run" at Eric O'Flaherty.
The Nationals have dealt the top two lefties from their 2013 bullpen this winter -- Fernando Abad was traded to the Oakland Athletics in November, and youngster Ian Krol was part of the package that went to Detroit for starter Doug Fister. O'Flaherty could be a relatively cheap option, given that he is recovering from Tommy John surgery performed in May and won't be ready for the beginning of the 2014 season. The southpaw, who turns 29 in February, spent the last five seasons with the Atlanta Braves. While with the Braves, he built a reputation as a premier left-handed set-up man. In 295 appearances for the team, he posted a 1.99 ERA and allowed only 11 home runs in 249⅓ innings, highlighted by a 0.98 ERA in 2011. Rosenthal reports that O'Flaherty is also being pursued by the Dodgers and Phillies.
Jerome Williams, Joel Hanrahan drawing interest
Starting pitcher Jerome Williams is in talks with six different teams, according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. Cotillo reports that four of the six teams are in the American League, and that Williams is expected to make a decision by Tuesday. The right-hander pitched for the Los Angeles Angels in 2013 and made 37 appearances, 25 of which were starts. His overall ERA was 4.57, but that mark jumped to 5.06 in games which Williams started. The 32-year-old Williams is specifically interested in signing with a team which will use him as a starter, according to Cotillo.
Meanwhile, relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan is also receiving interest from teams, according to Buster Olney of ESPN. Hanrahan underwent Tommy John surgery in May of 2012 and returned to make nine appearances for the Boston Red Sox at the end of the 2013 season. Those post-injury outings did not go well, adding up to 7⅓ innings, eight runs (9.82 ERA), six walks and four home runs. Those numbers are unlikely to scare anyone off, given the fact that pitchers often need some time to regain their old forms after returning from Tommy John procedures. Hanrahan has recorded 100 saves in his seven-year career, mostly for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Markets emerging for Michael Morse, Sam Fuld
Free agent outfielder Michael Morse is being pursued by the Giants, Rockies, Marlins and Rangers, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The outfielder had a poor season for the Mariners and Orioles in 2013, batting only .215/.270/.381 with 13 home runs, but Sherman points out that Morse had surgery in October for a problem with his wrist which had reportedly hampered him. Morse, who will be 32 in March, hit 64 home runs combined from 2010 through 2012 and could be a cheap source of right-handed power.
Outfielder Sam Fuld has also received interest, both from major league teams and a team in Japan's NPB, according to Rosenthal. Fuld was non-tendered by the Rays after batting .199/.270/.267 with two home runs and eight stolen bases in 2013. The 32-year-old profiles best as a backup outfielder who can pinch-run and come in as a late-inning defensive replacement.
Yankees kick the tires on pitcher Mike Pelfrey
"Big Pelf" pitched for the Minnesota Twins in 2013, making 29 starts and posting a 5.19 ERA. The Yankees could use Pelfrey as an innings-eater in their currently-thin rotation; the right-hander tossed at least 184 innings for four straight seasons from 2008-2011, and surpassed the 200-inning mark twice in that time. New York's rotation currently consists of C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova, with a host of youngsters led by David Phelps and Michael Pineda vying for any spots which aren't filled externally this winter.
Other assorted notes
-- Delmon Young is trying to add first base to his resume in order to increase his defensive versatility, according to Rosenthal. Young split the 2013 season between the Phillies and the Rays, batting .260/.307/.407 with 11 home runs in 103 games. However, his poor outfield defense may limit his value in the eyes of many teams, prompting him to try out at a new position.
-- New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson claims to be working with an $85 million budget for 2014, according to Jorge Castillo of The Star-Ledger. The Mets currently have around $50 million committed to four players: David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Chris Young, and Jonathon Niese. They owe $3 million to former outfielder Jason Bay from his since-expired contract with the team. They will also spend approximately $20.6 million on their seven arbitration-eligible players, based on the estimates at MLB Trade Rumors. That leaves only about $15 million to fill the final 14 spots on the roster, most of which will go to pre-arbitration players on six-figure contracts. Alderson may spend some of that money to bring in a new starting pitcher, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN.
-- The Baltimore Orioles still need a DH, a closer, and possibly a starting pitcher, but they haven't ruled out Cruz or Choo for their left field vacancy, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. They are also in on Raul Ibanez and Andre Ethier, reports Jim Bowden of ESPN. They lost their 2013 left fielder, Nate McLouth, to free agency.
-- Choo is expected to get a contract somewhere in between the seven-year, $126 million deal signed by Jayson Werth prior to the 2011 season and the seven-year, $153 million pact inked by Jacoby Ellsbury on Saturday, according to Sherman.
-- Japan's NBP has agreed to the key aspects of a new posting system, specifically the $20 million maximum bid, reports Sherman. However, the two sides are still working out the smaller details of the agreement.
-- One topic of discussion at the upcoming Winter Meeting will the elimination of home plate collisions, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.