Looking at the calendar, seeing that the regular season is just around the corner, it's amazing to look at the names still on the market who can be had for the right price.
Of course, with most of the top players, the big caveat for a team trying to sign them is giving up a draft pick and the slot money that goes along with it. It's amazing how much the new qualifying system has changed the way teams approach free agency.
But as we move deeper into spring training, with injuries starting to pile up, teams may be more inclined to make an offer to some of the better players available. While nothing appears imminent, let's take a look at the latest buzz surrounding them.
Ervin Santana Still Not in Seattle's Plans
No team has been hit harder by injuries this spring than the Seattle Mariners. They have already said that Hisashi Iwakuma, who finished third in AL Cy Young voting last year, and star prospect Taijuan Walker are not likely to start the season in the big leagues.
Iwakuma suffered a finger injury early in camp, while Walker has been dealing with shoulder problems. It's gotten to the point where the Mariners are going to put Felix Hernandez in a bubble to ensure he makes it to the regular season healthy.
While it doesn't sound like Iwakuma's injury is serious, Walker's is concerning because you never like to hear about shoulder problems with a young pitcher.
Despite those injuries, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that Ervin Santana, the top pitcher left on the market, is not getting a call from the Mariners at this point.
But Zduriencik also has no offers out for (Santana or Kendrys Morales) at the moment, and there's no sense one is coming soon. There's no suggestion, in fact, he's ever made an official offer for either player, beyond the $14.1-million qualifying offer that was extended to Morales following his fine season in Seattle.
Santana was given a qualifying offer from the Royals for $14.1 million but turned it down. The Mariners don't have to give up their first-round pick by signing him because top-10 picks are protected.
It would appear the reason for Seattle's lack of action is money. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported in December that the Mariners were nearing their spending limit after investing $240 million in Robinson Cano. They also invested $14 million in Fernando Rodney this offseason.
Stephen Drew Not on Mets' Radar
In keeping with the spirit of the last rumor, let's talk about Stephen Drew drawing zero interest from the New York Mets.
Drew's free agency is more perplexing than Santana's, just because of the positional value he has and a .777 OPS with 50 extra-base hits last year. He was one of four shortstops with an OPS of at least .750 and 50 extra-base hits last season (min. 500 plate appearances).
But because the Red Sox made Drew a qualifying offer, teams aren't beating down the door to sign him. It probably doesn't help that Scott Boras is Drew's agent.
One team that has been constantly linked to Drew throughout the winter is the New York Mets, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that they aren't going to increase their payroll.
Executives I have spoken with say the Mets have indicated they will not add significantly to their 2014 payroll. Thus, while Drew’s asking price has fallen, it will probably never sink to a level these Mets are willing to spend.
Sherman also wrote that Boras has said Drew may wait to sign until June to avoid the draft compensation.
Despite the Mets getting more publicity, it's the other team in New York that should have serious interest in Drew. Derek Jeter is going to be 40 years old in June, played in 17 games last year and is about as bad a defensive shortstop as there is in baseball.
Plus, the Yankees could put Drew at third base on days when Jeter is in the lineup as a replacement for Alex Rodriguez.
George A. King III of the New York Post reported on February 25 that the Yankees were monitoring infielders this spring, but that was more about trades than adding one more free agent.
It's a shame what's happened to Drew this winter, because he does have good value for some teams out there. Unfortunately with the draft compensation attached, those teams, especially smaller market clubs, can't afford to sign him.
Mariners Won't Grant Robinson Cano's Wish
Going back to the Mariners, who seem to be the focal point of everything this offseason, Robinson Cano made headlines when he told CBS Sports' Jon Heyman that the team needed another right-handed bat.
I'm not going to lie. We need an extra bat, especially a right-handed bat. We have many left-handed hitters. We need at least one more righty. You don't want to face a lefty pitcher with a lineup of seven left-handed hitters.
Within that same piece (used in the Santana bit), Heyman says the Mariners aren't going to make an offer to Kendrys Morales, who spent the last two years in Seattle and hit 45 homers during that time.
Morales is at a disadvantage with the Mariners because they already brought in Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, two players who have had leg issues in the past that limit them to first base/DH duties.
Cano's comments weren't out of line, though a lot of people blew them out of proportion because it's fun to make proclamations about a player who actually took money to leave the Yankees.
The point of what Cano said is that a balanced lineup makes it harder for teams to mix and match with their bullpen. Morales does add a dynamic the Mariners could use to make their offense more potent.
Unfortunately, due to substantial financial commitments in other areas, Morales will have to find a new home.
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