The Seattle Mariners have a glaring need for offensive help and another outfielder this offseason and they have come to the Winter Meetings looking to fill those needs. The biggest name out there that would satisfy both holes is free agent Josh Hamilton. According to sources, the Mariners met personally with Hamilton on Sunday and could be exploring a potential offer.
The news is a little surprising since just a few weeks ago, Jack Zduriencik came out and flatly stated that the Mariners would likely not be getting on the Hamilton sweepstakes this offseason. While the M’s have quite a bit of freed up cash now that Ichiro Suzuki‘s contract is off the books, the team is hesitant to tie it all back up with one big free agent signing.
While he said you can never say never, Zduriencik did say “at the end of the day, when you gauge the market, you have to be realistic about where it will end up. And there’s a strong possibility that one will exceed where we’re at.”
But the team is exploring all of their options and doing their due diligence, so they met with and kicked the tires on Hamilton to test his interest in coming to Seattle. It’s unlikely that the market has changed over two weeks, but Seattle has expressed optimism in their chances of signing the former MVP.
Getting Hamilton to Seattle would be a huge get for the M’s. After finishing dead last in the American League the last four years in runs scored, Hamilton would be a huge boon to this listless lineup. Hamilton would be the best hitter Seattle has had in the outfield since Ken Griffey Jr. was roaming center field in the Kingdome.
However, the more likely scenario, no matter how optimistic Mariners’ officials feel, is that Hamilton and his agent are using this meeting to generate greater interest from big market teams to drive up Hamilton’s price. If other teams think Seattle is a major player for Hamilton, they’ll ramp up their own negotiations and sweeten the pot for the slugging center fielder.
It would be wildly out of character for Seattle to sign Hamilton by winning a bidding war with the big market teams that are likely interested in Hamilton’s services. Expect Seattle to make some smaller acquisitions at a much more reasonable asking price.