Future Mariners center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury?
Last offseason, the Seattle Mariners realized they needed a more productive outfield. That's why the club entered deep trade negotiations with the Arizona Diamondbacks about Justin Upton and ultimately landed Michael Morse in a three-way deal.
Now, the M's are back at square one.
Morse battled injuries and posted an underwhelming .693 OPS prior to being dealt again during the summer. They've also given up on center fielder Franklin Gutierrez by declining his 2014 option.
Those departures leave Seattle with an enormous amount of spending money. The only substantial contracts on next summer's payroll belong to Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, per Baseball Prospectus. Moreover, as Aaron Steen of MLB Trade Rumors illustrates, the team's class of arbitration-eligible players is merely two-deep.
Once the managerial vacancy is filled, general manager Jack Zduriencik will almost certainly turn his attention to Jacoby Ellsbury.
The second-ranked player in this free-agent class batted leadoff for the world champion Boston Red Sox and led the majors in 2013 with 52 stolen bases. That's more than the entire Mariners roster! As if the fit weren't already apparent, Ellsbury is a native of the Pacific Northwest.
For what it's worth, Fox Sports insider Ken Rosenthal predicted Seattle would sign the 30-year-old to a long-term, nine-figure contract (h/t Dennis and Callahan).