GMs in Opryland to sing for signings

ryan.divish@thenewstribune.comDecember 3, 2012 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The 2012 Major League Baseball winter meetings open today at the massive Gaylord Convention Center at Opryland.

Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik arrived in the Music City on Saturday and has been conducting meetings with members of his staff to prepare for 31/2 days of meetings and talks with opposing teams, agents and prospective free agents.

The Mariners are one of a handful teams that figure to be very active, trying to add offense to a club in desperate need of it.

How exactly will the Mariners acquire it? They do have extra dollars for signing a free agent, but the class is thin. Zduriencik has also been looking at possible trades. Any deal would likely include one of their three prized pitching prospects – Danny Hultzen, James Paxton or Taijuan Walker. Teams also covet infield prospect Nick Franklin. Plus, the Mariners have a glut of hard-throwing relievers in their system, any of whom could fit nicely in a multi-player package for a hitter.

Zduriencik also said he will search for a veteran starting pitcher.

Besides the Mariners’ never-ending needs, fans can expect other news from Nashville.

Leading off will be the ongoing saga of 2010 American League MVP Josh Hamilton, the best available hitter on the market. Hamilton, once thought to be a Texas Ranger for the rest of his career, is now a free agent in search of a long-term contract in the neighborhood of seven years, $175 million. Although Hamilton may ultimately re-sign with the Rangers, the Orioles, Brewers, Phillies and Red Sox are expected to make offers.

The most coveted pitcher is right-hander Zack Greinke. The 2009 Cy Young award winner is a legitimate top-of-the- rotation starter. The Angels, who traded for Greinke last year at midseason, are one of his many suitors along with the Dodgers, Rangers and Nationals.

On the trade front, Rays pitcher James Shields and Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton seem likely be dealt.

The Rays have a wealth of young pitching and simply don’t need to keep the more expensive Shields. Upton was an All-Star in 2009 and 2011, but his numbers dropped off last season and had his issues with manager Kirk Gibson.

Other likely trade candidates include the Royals’ Billy Butler and former Mariners Shin Soo-Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera of Cleveland, and the Mets’ reigning National League Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey.

Today’s meetings will kick off with the Hall of Fame veteran’s committee announcing any possible inductees from the pre-integration era (before 1946).

Each of the MLB general managers will hold a 20-minute press conference over the next three days. Zduriencik will meet with Northwest media daily.

The meetings conclude Thursday morning with the Rule 5 draft.

ryan.divish@thenewstribune.com 253-597-8483 blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish

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