Mariners will test waters on Fielder

Jack Zduriencik isn’t jumping feet first into the pool quite yet, but the Mariners GM acknowledged his club is interested in Prince Fielder and will “go down that road” and see where it leads.

The Mariners certainly could use an offensive boost, having endured the lowest scoring offense in the American League the past two seasons. But they’ve also got about $80 million of their projected $95 million in payroll already tied up in existing contracts and expected arbitration raises.

Thus it would take some creative maneuvering to get serious with Fielder, which is why I specifically asked Zduriencik if the Mariners had the resources to pursue the free-agent slugger.

“That really depends,” said Zduriencik, who was the Brewers scouting director when they drafted Fielder in 2002. “There are so many factors there and no one knows where that number will end up. As much as you might have desire to go down a path, the length and dollars tie into that.

“There’s no question we could use a big bat in the middle of our lineup, but where is your limitation and threshold? We’ll go down that road and experiment and see where it ends up, but until things get more definitive, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Here’s my full story on Zduriencik’s thoughts on the Mariners situation as they head to the Winter Meetings next week.

— Greg Johns

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