MLB Free Agency: Mariners' Chances of Landing Another Bat

J.J. MatthewsContributor IIIJanuary 3, 2013

MLB Free Agency: Mariners' Chances of Landing Another Bat

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    With rumors swirling over the last few weeks, the Mariners have yet to make the big move that many fans expected them to make this season.

    Acquiring Kendrys Morales for Jason Vargas last month was a start for Seattle, but many still believe General Manager Jack Zduriencik still has a move or two left up his sleeve before pitchers and catchers report in February.

    Whether it's signing a bat or two off the free-agent market or swinging another trade, Seattle still needs to add more pop to its lineup to be considered a threat for a postseason spot.

    With that in mind, here's a look at the players the Mariners are most likely to acquire before spring training and the odds of that happening.

Giancarlo Stanton: 100-1

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    Our first stop on the Mariners' wish list is in Miami, Florida, home of the biggest trade target supposedly on the market.

    Giancarlo Stanton has recently been connected to the Mariners, with Seattle contacting the Marlins to inquire about the 23-year-old slugger.

    Any Seattle fan would be ecstatic about the addition of the powerful outfielder, but unfortunately Stanton ranks as the least likely of the targets the Mariners might acquire.

    First of all, the Marlins are fresh off emptying their team of major league talent after their salary dump trade with the Toronto Blue Jays earlier this offseason and don't have much talent left on the roster to give away.

    Secondly, any trade involving Stanton would require emptying the minor league cupboard and would probably have to include major league-ready talent as well.

    Finally, Miami is under no pressure to move Stanton. The Marlins currently have Giancarlo under contract for another four years, and he is still a year away from hitting arbitration.

    Needless to say, Giancarlo Stanton is the Miami Marlin version of Felix Hernandez. Sure, they will be willing to listen to offers, but don't expect them to make a deal involving their young star anytime soon.

Justin Upton: 80-1

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    Justin Upton is essentially about as untouchable as Giancarlo Stanton.

    Although Upton has been subject to trade rumors for the last few years, GM Kevin Towers has been very reluctant to trade away the former first overall draft pick.

    Upton is currently signed to a very reasonable six-year, $51.26 million extension, which would be quite the bargain for any team that acquired him.

    However, there are currently two major hurdles for any play by the Mariners for the stud outfielder.

    First, the Mariners may no longer be a trade match for Arizona. The Diamondbacks were in the market for a shortstop at the beginning of the offseason, but their three-way trade with the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds earlier this offseason netted them Didi Gregorious, whom they believe is their shortstop of the future.

    The Mariners have the young pitching that the Diamondbacks are looking for, but with no big-name offensive prospect other than top prospect Mike Zunino, Seattle may not have the pieces Arizona is looking for in a trade.

    Secondly, Upton recently added Seattle  to the no-trade list in his contract, according to Jon Heyman. This means Upton would have to approve any trade to the Mariners if a deal were to happen. That may not be that big of an issue; Upton may just be using this as leverage to negotiate a better extension. However, it's yet another hurdle that the Mariners would have to leap in order to acquire the big bat out of the desert.

Andre Ethier: 50-1

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    Andre Ethier is one of the most interesting names on the market right now.

    The Los Angeles Dodgers don't really have a reason to trade the talented outfielder, yet it hasn't stopped the rumors of Seattle calling about him.

    Just about the only reason the Dodgers may have is the extension they signed Ethier to back in June. Ethier is a career .290 hitter but has struggled recently against lefties, as highlighted last year by his .222 season average against them.

    Any trade with Seattle would most likely include the Dodgers eating some money, as some analysts don't believe the extension for Ethier was a smart move in the first place.

    If the Dodgers are truly interested in signing free agent Michael Bourn, then a trade to clear salary involving Andre Ethier would make sense.

    But if Bourn signs elsewhere, there would be no reason at all for the Dodgers to move Ethier at this point.

Mike Morse: 20-1

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    Sounds familiar, right?

    The reason Mike Morse is still a possibility is because of Adam LaRoche's continued search for a three-year contract.

    The Washington Nationals have made it clear that they won't go any further than two years with LaRoche, and so far no other team has stepped up to give him that third year.

    Sure, rumors of the Boston Red Sox stepping in have run rampant, especially with the ongoing questions about Mike Napoli's health. But you have to think that the Red Sox would have already offered LaRoche that third year if they really wanted him that badly.

    When it comes down to it, LaRoche is going to re-sign in Washington, because deep down that's where he wants to play the most.

    And that leaves the door open for a trade involving Mike Morse.

    The Mariners have the relief pitching the Nationals have been looking for recently and would be a perfect match for a deal with Morse.

    When Mike Morse finally becomes available, expect the Mariners to come calling with a package centered around a young relief pitcher to help bolster Washington's bullpen. 

Michael Bourn: 10-1

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    The odds may not be as low as most Mariner fans would like, but Michael Bourn still makes the most sense for the Seattle Mariners.

    The Mariners lack a true leadoff hitter, and GM Jack Zduriencik has already stated that getting a leadoff man is on the to-do list for the rest of the offseason.

    Seattle has been connected to Bourn since early December. With the market drying up, it's starting to make more sense for Bourn to take his talents to the Pacific Northwest.

    This may not be the power bat that Mariners fans are looking for, but Bourn would still make Seattle a better team. With the addition of Bourn, the Mariners would have the option of sliding Michael Saunders to a corner outfield spot, allowing the recently added Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay to platoon in the other corner.

    Getting Bourn would also help Dustin Ackley, by moving him into a more suitable spot in the lineup. Ackley struggled in the leadoff role last season, batting .233 with 76 strikeouts. He would be more suited to either the two hole or somewhere lower in the lineup.

    There is still plenty of time left in the offseason, but look for Bourn to be the most likely to be in a Mariner uniform come spring training.