It didn’t take very long for our worst fears to be realized with regards to Franklin Gutierrez. The 30 year old slugger has been battling a plethora of injuries over the last few seasons. He was re-signed by the Mariners this winter, and there was a renewed sense of optimism that Guti could finally get over his injury woes and realize the potential that has yet to be fully tapped. Clearly that’s not the case, as Guti has been sidelined for the entirety of 2014 with a gastro problem.
The Mariners outfield has already been kindof a toss-up this winter. The additions of Logan Morrison and Corey Hart has led to a lot of speculation about what the Mariners’ defensive outfield will look like. LoMo and Hart are going to split time in the corners, Michael Saunders will spend his time in the other corner, and Guti was probably going to be in center for the majority of the season. Now that Guti is done for 2014, there’s a renewed sense that Dustin Ackley might slide into that spot. Willie Bloomquist can also take reps in the outfield, but I would be wildly surprised to see him as anything other than a platooning floater.
As recently as a few weeks ago, it seemed pretty much imminent that Nelson Cruz was going to sign a deal with the Mariners. However, that obviously hasn’t come to pass yet. Even more, Chris Cotillo is reporting that the Mariners and Cruz have put their negotiations ‘on hold’. It seems that the M’s at least recognize that Cruz is asking for way too much money.
Many agree that bringing Nelson Cruz to Seattle could turn out to be a bad move. He’s expensive, he’s better as a DH, and he’s not as good as his inflated numbers suggest.
I’m not completely against signing Nelson Cruz, but I’m very against giving him anywhere close to what he’s asking for. But, now that Guti is out for sure, will Jack and company be making another desperation move towards Cruz? It’s not so crazy to see that he fills a hole that needs filled before the season ramps up.
Prior to the Gutierrez announcement, the longer Nelson Cruz didn’t have a deal in place, the more likely it was that his price was going to come down. Now that pitchers and catchers have reported time is very quickly running out for Cruz to get a deal in place and report somewhere for Spring Training.
Ordinarily, that would mean a better potential deal for the M’s, but now that they are down an everyday outfielder, Cruz has more bargaining power again. At this point he’s one of the best outfield free agents left, so he’s probably warranted a second look from the Mariners.
The big question here is: What is the outfield plan for 2014? I mentioned before about the possibility of moving Dustin Ackley out there to cover some ground while Nick Franklin takes reps at short with Brad Miller. Abe Almonte could also get a call up to the big leagues if the Mariners decide to fill that spot from within.
Everything is dependent on how the M’s plan on filling the ranks this year. But it isn’t so far fetched of an idea to think that the Mariners might throw a desperation offer to Cruz now that there is a perceived hole in the lineup. As a result, Cruz would have a lot more bargaining power than he did before.