According to Fox Sports, the Seattle Mariners are going to "kick the tires" on the availability of All-Star left fielder Jason Bay.
With the bloated contracts of C Kenji Johjima, SP Erik Bedard, SP Jarrod Washburn, RP Miguel Bautista, and 3B Adrian Beltre coming off the books, it frees up roughly $45 million in cap space for them to use.
Playing on some historically bad Pittsburgh Pirates teams Bay still managed to drive in 100 RBIs three times and at least 82 RBIs twice. His seasonal averages are 33 HRs and 107 RBIs. Since 2004, only five times has a Mariners hitter eclipsed 100 RBIs, done by the same two players (Raul Ibanez, three times; Richie Sexson, two times)
Seattle's offense scored the least runs in the American League last year mustering up only 640, under four per game.
In contrast, Seattle boasts one of the top defenses in the league, including in the outfield: Ichiro Suzuki, Franklin Gutierrez, Endy Chavez, and Michael Saunders.
This is probably one of the, if not the best defense outfields seen in a long time, but the fact still remains all of their RBI production (31 HRs, 133 RBIs) doesn't edge out Bays power figure (33 HRs) and barely scrapes by his RBI total (119).
With a budget of roughly $45 million, no hurry to resign ace Felix Hernandez, and a likely increase of the budget after a successful 2009 turnaround, they have the flexibility to add whomever they desire.
With the market bare, the desperate need of offense, and the money to spend, the Mariners interest in one of only two 100+ RBI producers on the market seems 100 percent logical.
Other players being linked to the Mariners through the GM Meetings are All-Star 2B Orlando Hudson, DH Hideki Matsui, P Rich Harden, and P Jarrod Washburn.
Hudson is an intriguing option because signing him would mean Jose Lopez would likely move to 3B. He's a decent hitter and a terrific defender.
Signing Matsui would give the Mariners a much needed boost on offense, the Mariners have a significant draw for Japanese players. Grabbing Bay and Matsui would all of a sudden give the Mariners four players with potential to easily drive in 100 RBIs.
Along with the always dynamic bat of Ichiro, and the consistent bat of Franklin Gutierrez, the Mariners lineup would be formidable to go along with their top defense.
Getting Rich Harden would essentially give us a younger, better version of Erik Bedard. He has had injury issues but sports a better career record, ERA, and has given up less hits, home runs, and runs then Bedard has.
Rich Harden: 135 G, 603 H, 311 R, 284 ER, 70 HR, 329 BB, 50 W, 29 L, 3.39 ERA
Erik Bedard: 144 G, 762 H, 375 R, 339 ER, 75 HR, 325 BB, 51 W, 41 L, 3.71 ERA
Say the Mariners were to grab Bay, Matsui, Harden, Washburn, and Beltres' semi- replacement (Orlando Hudson, Mark Derosa, etc.), this is how the lineup would go:
That lineup is a perfect blend of power, speed, and contact, to go along with stellar defensive play. Take into account youngsters Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, as well as Endy Chavez and Jack Hannahan, they have fantastic, young depth.
The rotation would shape out like this:
With young guns Brandon Morrow and Doug Fister waiting in the wings, the Mariners would also have a deep, balanced, and young rotation. With David Aardsma at closer, it could arguably be one of the deepest, youngest lineup/rotation combinations in the entire league
This would normally be a pipe dream, but in order to even just scrape to where the old payroll was, they would have to offer each player an average of $9 million per season in order to just get back to where they were.
In this bad economy, thats not going to happen, some will get paid, like Bay, John Lackey, Matt Holliday, but not everyone.