Last offseason, the Mariners were one of the many teams reportedly in the Nelson Cruz market.
Desperately in need of a slugger, they had the chance to pick up the former Ranger fresh off his 2013 PED suspension on a one-year, low-risk deal.
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However, management decided to take the conservative approach on Cruz, giving most of that money instead to Corey Hart.
That decision, while understandable at the time, proved to be a fiasco, as Cruz led the league in homers (40) with Baltimore while Seattle continued to struggle to put up competitive run totals and Hart repeatedly found his name on the DL.
So, as this offseason begins in earnest, the M’s once again will be entering the power batting market as a buyer, and a different approach on a similar player could finally get Lloyd McClendon the ammunition he needs.
Another Ranger-turned-Oriole, Chris Davis has nowhere near the resume of Cruz, whose more than six years of service time have been filled with long balls (197 career and at least 20 in six straight seasons). But the last three have finally seen all the promise he showed in Arlington come to fruition.
A spectacular .270/.326/.501 season that featured 33 blasts in 2012 got him on the map, but what everyone remembers is Davis’ other-worldly 2013: 53 HR, 138 RBI, and an OPS of 1.004 seemed to belong to the Steroid Era a decade previous rather than just another Year of the Pitcher.
And of course, this September’s positive amphetamine test in addition to a disappointing 2014 puts those numbers in shadow evermore.
Davis could not even break the Mendoza line in 450 AB and watched the O’s postseason run after not being put back on the roster when his 25-game suspension ended.
The Orioles may be all too happy to part ways with Davis, which should play right into the Zduriencik’s hands…
But the first baseman’s fall off the production precipice may have given Jack Zduriencik a second chance to pick up cheap homers: Davis’ decline coincided with the emergence of journeyman Steve Pearce, who became a team and fan favorite by nearly hitting .300 and putting the now-disgraced star out of mind in addition to out of sight.
With a replacement already in place, Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette seem keen to get what they can for Davis: rumors of a departure abound (e.g. ESPN’s Jim Bowden) and Seattle could be an ideal partner.
The Orioles could certainly use a young, cost-effective starter who is nearly ready for the majors: Duquette took fifty million and lit it on fire via the Ubaldo Jimenez contract, and Wei-Yin Chen, though above-average, was not worthy of 16 wins (3.54 ERA, 3.89 FIP).
And a Davis that could even just reach his 2014 home run total (with a better AVG, of course) would be a godsend to a parched Mariners’ lineup.
The Mariners missed out on capitalizing on a perfect storm last year, but another looks to be brewing in Baltimore. All they have to do is pull the trigger and try to finally bring competent offense back to the Great Northwest.