Winter Meetings Day Three

Still no Mariners news but lots of activity – and the third day of the Winter Meetings is typically the “action day.” Things happen today, and then tomorrow morning is the Rule 5 Draft before people fly home in the afternoon.

Speaking of the Rule 5 Draft, the Rainiers had a player last year who is a candidate to get picked: left-handed reliever Brian Moran, who was not protected on the Mariners 40-man roster.

Moran is one of those guys – and they are rare – where if a team just looks at the stats and doesn’t have an in-person scouting report on him, they might pull the trigger and pick him. He had 82 strikeouts in 68.2 innings last year, between Double-A and Triple-A. He gave up only 53 hits and had a 2.62 ERA. Great stats!

On the other hand, most teams (perhaps all teams) have scouted him and saw that his fastball is not-so-fast, running at 82-87 mph. He often strikes guys out with a 85 mph fastballs, because of deception. There are certain hitters who have a very difficult time seeing the ball against Moran – it’s so extreme that catcher Guillermo Quiroz said that some opposing hitters said Moran throws an “invisi-ball” in this article I wrote in August.

If Moran keeps putting up numbers in Triple-A, somebody will give him a chance in the Majors. But will it be right now, via the Rule 5 Draft? This draft means they have to keep him in the big leagues all year, or else return him to the Mariners. It costs $50,000 to draft him, and the drafting team gets $25,000 back if they have to return him to the Mariners. So, it would cost a minimum of $25,000 just to look at him in spring training.

The Mariners get a selection in the Rule 5 Draft tomorrow, too, but I don’t expect them to draft anybody. The draft is mostly a collection of left-handed relievers and fifth outfielders, and the Mariners are covered in these areas.

There is also a minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, which has different rules, essentially allowing you to purchase the contracts of certain lower-level players from other teams. This draft rarely results in Triple-A players coming over – I can think of one instance during my time in Tacoma, when the Mariners grabbed a first baseman named Aaron Rifkin in the minor league Rule 5 Draft, and he stayed with the Rainiers all year.

JUST IN: we have reports the Mariners signed Jason Bay, who was the Mets version of Chone Figgins the last few years. This is nothing to think about much, all they are doing is bringing him in to spring training and taking a look. If Bay looks good in March, then you start to see if he fits on the roster.

Let’s hit the links:

  • For The News Tribune, Ryan Divish writes that the Mariners are not desperate. He also has a Winter Meetings Notebook with thoughts on a Felix Hernandez contract extension. The paper’s website also put together a “Mariners Budget Tool” where you get to sign your own free agents to fill the roster.
  • If you are following along today, this link takes you to Divish’s “Day Three Live Blog” from Nashville.
  • Over at the Seattle Times, Geoff Baker writes that the Mariners may be looking to sign two outfielders – one more than commonly thought. Baker has a blog post in which he tries to figure out what the various Mariners-related rumors add up to.
  • Larry Stone tried to make some sense out of the Michael Bourn rumors.
  • It’s looking like one rumored Mariners target – Royals DH Billy Butler – is off the market for now.
  • The Double-A Jackson Generals are no longer playing at Pringles Park. Pringles passed on the sponsorship renewal and now it is just Generals Park. I think they should make it singular: General Park.
  • The Mariners did make some news yesterday: they announced a new Safeco Field restaurant called Edgar’s.
  • My man John McGrath is 58, his lawn looks like hell, and he let his Hall Of Fame ballot sit around for several days with the unpaid bills. He’s voting “no on steroids” in 2012.
  • Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated has a look at the mechanics behind a big four-team trade that is being discussed down in Nashville.

My favorite headline of the day was from Baseball Prospectus, on the Red Sox signing Shane Victorino: “Boston Declares Victorino.”

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