NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik spent the final day of the baseball winter meetings assuring fans that his first move isn’t expected to be his last.
The Mariners came to an agreement Wednesday with former Gonzaga star and Seattle-area resident Jason Bay on what’s expected to be a one-year, six-figure contract that won’t be officially announced until sometime after the meetings end. Bay, 34, is expected to share time in left field and at designated hitter for the Mariners coming off a terrible, injury-plagued three-season stint with the New York Mets.
“We’ve had several meetings today with clubs as well as player representatives,” Zduriencik said as the final full day of the winter meetings wrapped up at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. “We have some tonight as well, so we’re just going to continue to push forward and explore every option. And if it leads to a road well-taken by both parties, then hopefully something gets done. Otherwise, you just keep doing it. You keep doing the work and hope something clicks.”
The Mariners do not expect to be active in Thursday morning’s Rule 5 draft since their 40-man roster is already full and they will already have to drop a player to accommodate Bay. Most agents and team officials will leave here immediately after the draft, making it unlikely the Mariners will complete any more moves before the winter meetings end.
Zduriencik said he remains in the hunt for a bat, and the Mariners continue to be tied to Nick Swisher, a free-agent right fielder and first baseman, along with center fielder Michael Bourn. But with free-agent prices climbing and teams demanding a premium in young players via trade, Zduriencik raised the idea he might not land a premium bat this winter.
“At the end, if you can’t get the offensive piece that you would like to have, or it doesn’t fit, or the cost is too high, then you still try to do things to make the club better,” Zduriencik said.
One of those things might be to acquire more pitching, either for a young rotation or an even younger bullpen. The Mariners are also looking at several lower-cost bat options in addition to Bay, since they still would like to add a catcher and a first baseman.
For now, the option of adding a premium bat still appears out there, with the market for Swisher dwindling after the Orioles signed Nate McClouth to a one-year deal Wednesday - ending their pursuit of any additional outfielders.
On the Bourn front, his agent, Scott Boras, said he met with the Mariners here and feels his speedy, sure-gloved client is a strong fit for spacious Safeco Field.