Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik
The MLB offseason is officially upon us, and the first major deal of the winter took place Tuesday evening with the blockbuster trade involving Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson.
The AL West will have a new look in 2013 with the addition of the Houston Astros, and given the level of competition we saw from the division last year, the race for first should be just as tight this season.
The Seattle Mariners have positioned themselves to be legitimate playoff contenders in a couple seasons, maybe sooner if they can land a big name or two this offseason, and most notable free agents are still up for grabs
Here are five value free agents the M's should pursue this winter.
Thirty-four-year-old outfielder Ryan Ludwick would be a nice addition to the Mariners' outfield and the middle of the batting order.
He would fit perfectly into the five hole in the lineup and provide some pop for the M's struggling offense. Ludwick is good for 15-20 home runs a season, and hit a career best 37 with St. Louis in 2008. Last year with the Reds, Ludwick hit .275 with 26 homers and drove in 80 runs.
Ludwick can easily be courted with a two-year, $12 million deal.
Although he's 37, the veteran Hunter proved he's still elite in terms of not only his fielding prowess, but his bat as well.
With the Angels last year, Hunter hit .313 with 16 home runs and 92 RBI. The nine-time Gold Glove-winning center fielder had a defensive WAR of 1.0 last season, his highest since 2009.
Hunter would add even more athleticism and sure-handedness to an already solid defensive outfield, and he could bat anywhere from second to sixth in the lineup as he still has the ability to hit for average and power.
Three years and $30 million should be an appropriate offer for Hunter.
Royals reliever Joakim Soria struggled last season, but don't forget about his All-Star campaigns in 2008 and 2010. He emerged as a top-tier closer in '08 when he converted 42 -of-45 save opportunities and carried an ERA of 1.60 and a WHIP of 0.86.
Tom Wilhelmsen established himself as a reliable closer for the second half of 2012, but Soria would jockey with "The Bartender" throughout the season and also became a reliable setup man.
Forty-five million over five seasons should be enough in the likely competitive market.
The 29-year-old is eligible for arbitration this offseason.
Designated hitter Delmon Young would be a perfect fit in the clean-up spot in the Mariners' batting order. The 27-year-old has a ton of natural power that hasn't been fully tapped into yet.
Young totaled 18 home runs last season playing his home games in the cavernous Comerica Park and will benefit from a change of scenery. While Safeco isn't much more hitter friendly, its dimensions are more confined and even more so with the recent renovations, bringing the fences in as much as 12 feet in the left-center field power alley.
The Mariners should be able to sign Young for five years, $47 million.
Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche posted career highs in hits, home runs, RBI and WAR last season, and won his first career Gold Glove. He'll definitely be the most sought after infielder in the free-agent class, but with an inconsistent Justin Smoak at first base, he might be worth the large contract.
A left-handed power hitter slotted third behind Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders or Franklin Gutierrez would be huge for Seattle's offensive success.
He'll be pricey and probably overpaid in the final year or two of his contract, but Adam LaRoche should be offered $51 million over five seasons.