Mariners add Patterson during busy day
Veteran inked to Minor League deal as Meetings roll on
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Mariners made another Winter Meetings move on Wednesday, but it wasn't the resigning of Adrian Beltre, it wasn't the signing of Jason Bay or Rich Harden, and it wasn't a trade.
Nope, the Mariners inked veteran outfielder Corey Patterson to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training, hoping that the third-overall pick of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft, now 30 and with 10 years in the Majors, can rediscover the form that led him to hit 24 home runs, steal 32 bases and score 91 runs with the Cubs in 2004. If not, he could simply function as an experienced insurance policy for the outfield.But, while the Mariners might have only officially made one move on Wednesday, general manager Jack Zduriencik indicated more groundwork was laid on a busy day that saw the team complete meetings with every club and agent Seattle had planned to encounter during the Winter Meetings. "We had a lot of meetings, a lot of face-to-faces and several conversations over the phone," Zduriencik said. "We exchanged ideas. There's only so many hours you can do this." One thing the Mariners did not manage to take care of was the signing of right-hander Harden, a starting pitcher they had been pursuing. On Wednesday night, Harden agreed with Texas on a one-year deal for $7.5 million with an $11.5 million club option for a second. That deal, pending a physical, rules out one high-risk/high-reward starter the Mariners coveted. That could lead the club to pursue a similar player in Ben Sheets, whom Zduriencik worked with in Milwaukee, or up the ante a bit and take a shot at John Lackey, who's believed to be the top free-agent starter on the market. And then there was the Beltre situation. While Beltre's agent, Scott Boras, confirmed Seattle's continued interest in bringing back its most recent third baseman, he also said five other clubs were involved, and one of them happens to be the Boston Red Sox. To clear space for Beltre, the Red Sox would have to deal Mike Lowell, and a rumor was floating around that Boston might have a taker in the Rangers, who could offer catcher Max Ramirez in return. Then again, even though he was quick to point out that the right-handed-hitting Beltre's statistics away from Safeco Field in his healthy seasons of 2006-08 were comparable to those of Bay's road numbers from 2007-09, he wouldn't rule out a possible Emerald City reunion. "He likes Seattle," Boras said. "He's ... a team player. The manager, the new general manager and the ownership there has been a very appealing process for him. He knows [Safeco] affects his numbers, but on the other hand, he and Seattle have a very good relationship and we continue to talk." Moving on to other pieces of business, more names surfaced in connection to the Mariners, but nothing concrete came of it on Wednesday. Tweets and blogs mentioned possible interest in outfielders Marlon Byrd and Mike Cameron, and Bay's name continued to linger, especially when one expected suitor for the Trail, B.C., native and Kirkland, Wash., resident's services, the Angels, appeared to drop out, at least according to their manager's words. "I have not reached out personally to him, but he has been in internal discussions that we've had as an organization," Mike Scioscia said of Bay. "I think there are some more pressing needs that we have right now than the talent that Jason can bring. "He's an extraordinary talent, but we definitely have to look for some balance in some areas. That might not make Jason a great fit for our club." If the Mariners are indeed in on Bay, they might simply wait and see what the Red Sox, Bay's former team, decide to do regarding Bay or Matt Holliday, who are considered to be the premier hitters on the market. Bay already turned down a four-year, $60 million deal from Boston. In short, there's a lot for Zduriencik and his associates to sift through as they continue to build their 2010 roster, and who knows? Something might happen here or soon after the team hits the road for Seattle after Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. "I think there's the possibility, if we wanted to, to do something here," Zduriencik said. "We might be able to. We'll still weight options and alternatives. "It's very possible we could get on a plane ... and go home and talks will continue into next week."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.