Mariners considering internal, external options for RF

After missing out on their main target in free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera, the Mariners are now considering a number of alternatives — both on the trade market and within the organization — to fill their void in right field, according to MLB.com’s Greg Johns.

It’s not clear at this point exactly how the Mariners rank the remaining free agents or potential trade targets, but Johns reports that there is still a plethora of options to be considered. For starters, the list of remaining free agent outfielders includes right-handers Alex Rios, Michael Morse, Chris Denorfia, Jonny Gomes and Delmon Young, as well as left-handers Nori Aoki, Colby Rasmus, Ichiro Suzuki and Endy Chavez.

Morse, Denorfia, Suzuki and Chavez have all spent time with the Mariners in previous years, including this past season when Denorfia and Chavez primarily covered right-field duties after the All-Star break with Michael Saunders injured. Saunders, of course, was traded to the Blue Jays earlier this offseason in exchange for left-hander J.A. Happ.

Given the lack of options remaining in free agency, it’s more likely that the Mariners will look to fill their need via the trade market. Braves outfielder Justin Upton remains one of the top players being shopped around, though Seattle is firmly against parting with young right-hander Taijuan Walker in exchange for a player entering the final year of his contract, such as Upton.

Aside from Upton, outfielders known to at least be available via trade include Gerardo Parra of the Brewers, Seth Smith of the Padres, Andre Ethier of the Dodgers, David Murphy of the Indians, Travis Snider of the Pirates, Drew Stubbs of the Rockies and Marlon Byrd of the Phillies. The Red Sox could still move another outfielder even after trading away Yoenis Cespedes last week, meaning Seattle could try to make a play for the likes of Daniel NavaAllen Craig or Shane Victorino.

As for in-house options, the Mariners could turn to either Nelson Cruz or Logan Morrison for the right field job, though Cruz was signed with the intention of using him as a designated hitter and Morrison is viewed as more of a first baseman. That leaves James Jones and Stefen Romero, each coming off respectable rookie campaigns this past season.

All things considered, the Mariners would ultimately prefer to keep Cruz and Morrison in their expected roles, while bringing in a more established player to man right field for the time being. With Cabrera off the board, the Mariners are leaving no stone unturned as they seek an alternative, but nothing seems imminent at this time.

— Paul Casella

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