INDIANAPOLIS -- There's something wild happening out West, where the Mariners are establishing themselves a threat to the preeminent Angels -- at least in wintertime. Seattle stole the Angels' igniter
Seattle has a second-year star general manager in
"Watch out for the Mariners," warned one competing GM about the team that's already signaled it means business. The swiping of Figgins is a nice start, especially since it came for $4 million a year less than the Yankees gave
The Mariners are by no means a poor team, and their current coffers are significantly enhanced by close to $50 million coming off its books. The defection of unwanted catcher
Zduriencik's team surprised folks by quickly stealing Figgins, who could play third if Beltre doesn't return (he was offered arbitration, but is said to be "unlikely" to accept), second (
If the Angels stick to the stated plan to spend only $12 million, that might leave room for only one big hitter or one big pitcher, and Bay or Lackey still seems more within their reach than Halladay. While Halladay's main priority is to get to a perennial winner and the Angels obviously qualify there, there's practically no chance they'd offer the type of talent needed to land such a star without a window to lock Halladay up long term, and though Halladay may be willing to go west for a year (agent
Lackey isn't limiting his choices to one coast or the other, though some executives believe he'd prefer Texas, where he's from (Abilene is his home), or the West Coast, where his new wife is from. Some teams earlier sensed the Angels weren't going hard after Lackey, but if that were true, the presence of the Mariners in that derby could change things. The Angels surely will be willing to bid beyond their original spring bid of close to $50 million over four years, but one person familiar with the Angels' thinking said they won't repeat the $100 million-plus offer made to
The Yankees, Red Sox, Brewers, Rangers and Nationals are among other teams known to have interest in Lackey, who like Halladay has a bulldog rep. But it's possible it could still come down to another battle out west.
• Some could actually see the Red Sox pressing harder for Lackey than Halladay. While owner
• The Red Sox are still thought to have some interest in Bay, who rejected their $60 million, four-year contract, but some competitors could see them switching gears and taking Holliday. Red Sox officials like the comfort of Bay's past performance in their division, but most still believe Holliday is the better hitter. They have no worries about Bay's defense despite some defensive metrics suggesting he is deficient (they believe those metrics could be the result of a quirk of playing left field in Fenway Park). And as one scout pointed out, "Bay played center field at one point. So how bad can he be?"
• Execs expect star closer
• The Yankees are offering a little more than $10 million to begin negotiations with
• The Mets remain interested in
• The Dodgers are trying to trade