Zduriencik patiently shaping Mariners
With Figgins in fold, GM remains tight-lipped on next moves
INDIANAPOLIS -- On Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik had to admit that things were sort of plodding along in the home of the country's most famous motor speedway.
Granted, he was one of a handful of executives in the Major Leagues to make an official transaction here, announcing the arrival of infielder Chone Figgins on a four-year deal with an option for a fifth.But while he continues to talk about all the balls he's juggling through the narrow corridors of the downtown Marriott hotel to address Seattle's list of needs, he's also well aware that the bulk of the club's winter activity could happen sometime down the road, away from the Brickyard. One possibility for the Mariners appeared to be taken off the table early Tuesday when the Tigers, Yankees and D-backs agreed on a trade that will send outfielder Curtis Granderson to the Yankees, with the D-backs receiving right-handers Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy, and the Tigers getting pitchers Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth from Arizona and outfielder Austin Jackson and left-hander Phil Coke from New York. The Mariners had been considering trading for Granderson and Jackson, both formerly of Detroit, so when Zduriencik was asked if anything had transpired Tuesday that had taken players of interest out of the picture, he rightly pointed out that this trade had not been made official. He did, however, offer one comment on the result of the blockbuster if it does indeed go down as expected. "There were a lot of good players in that deal that changed hands," he said. One good player who Zduriencik all but told reporters he's interested in is Adrian Beltre, who declined the Mariners' offer of arbitration at midnight Tuesday. When Zduriencik introduced Figgins, he wouldn't say what position the versatile veteran would be manning for Seattle other than "infield," and when asked about it, he referred to the continued pursuit of Beltre by calling him "a recent player here." Beltre, a Scott Boras client, was believed to be keen on leaving Seattle for a team that would give him a lucrative multiyear deal, so Zduriencik was naturally asked if the Mariners view a potential re-signing of their former third baseman as a longshot. Zduriencik put on a perfect poker face and said, "I don't really know. I'm not a gambling man." Meanwhile, in the case of other players Seattle had been linked to Tuesday, the team did not appear to be seriously pursuing outfielder Jason Bay or reliever Darren Oliver but continued to be mentioned in the same sentences with starters Rich Harden, first baseman Nick Johnson and catcher Ryan Doumit, along with a few new ones: pitcher Kelvim Escobar and former Mariners outfielder and fan favorite Mike Cameron. Zduriencik wouldn't comment on any players by name. In fact, he wouldn't even say he was talking about Beltre, instead quipping, "We've got several players that have been recent players here." As for his club's modus operandi here, Zduriencik said the Mariners weren't done talking with teams and agents Tuesday night or for the remainder of the Meetings. "You just continue your discussions," he said. "We're not closing doors. And we don't make final decisions. You present opportunities and have an open dialogue. You can't put timetables on certain deals." The Mariners' needs remain the same and they remain stacked next to each other like dominoes depending on what presents itself to them here or in the coming days and weeks. They'd like a left fielder with some power, a starting pitcher or two, an experienced catcher with some offensive skills, and a first baseman if they don't resign Russell Branyan or decide to trade Jose Lopez (but only if Lopez has already been slotted there because the team manages to re-sign Beltre, which would place Figgins at second). It's confusing, but Zduriencik said the team will calmly continue to work toward making it clear. "If we don't do anything else [in Indianapolis]," he said, "I could get a sense of what direction we might be going in."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.