Mariners in play for top free agents

The Mariners last season were just a piece or two away from being a playoff team, and they’re reportedly trying to take that next step this winter.

According to a report from’s Ken Rosenthal, the M’s are “interested” in Hanley Ramirez, but Victor Martinez is their “priority.”

Both players have received qualifying offers (Ramirez from the Dodgers and Martinez from the Tigers) and are expected to decline by Monday’s deadline. The issue is that both players are likely to command deals north of $100 million and Rosenthal says Seattle may be unwilling to pay that kind of money.

Ramirez — whose days at shortstop may be numbered, regardless of where he lands — hit .283 with 13 homers and 71 RBIs for the Dodgers last year. Martinez was arguably the Tigers’ best hitter last season and would provide protection for Robinson Cano that he’s never had in the heart of the Mariners lineup.

The Mariners were 12th in the AL with a .376 slugging percentage last year, ahead of only Texas, Boston and Tampa Bay.

— Joey Nowak

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