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Cano reportedly meeting with Mariners in Seattle

Free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano flew from New York to Seattle to meet with Mariners officials on Thursday, according to an ESPN Deportes report, as negotiating tactics for the five-time Yankees All-Star kicked up a notch.

ESPN Desportes quoted a source as saying the Mariners would be willing to go up to 10 years and $230-$240 million for Cano, who reportedly has been offered seven years at about $170 million by the Yankees.

FOXSports.com is reporting that Cano asked for $240 million, but the Mariners have not offered more than $200 million.  Only Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez have signed Major League contracts larger than $225 million.

MLB.com has not confirmed that the Mariners have talked any specific figures with Cano and the Mariners declined to comment on the ESPN Deportes report, as is their policy with all free-agent negotiations.

What the report doesn’t say is whether Cano and his agents are truly interested in signing with Seattle or are leaking news of his dalliance with the Mariners as negotiating leverage to drive up the Yankees’ offer.

Here’s the full story on MLB.com.

-Greg Johns

Mariners emerging as possible deadline dealers

As the clock ticks toward today’s 4 p.m. ET trade deadline, the Mariners are beginning to emerge as a team looking to make a move or two.

Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun is reporting that the Orioles are actively pursuing both outfielder Michael Morse and lefty reliever Oliver Perez in a possible package deal.

Several media outlets, including Jon Heyman of CBSSports.Com, are saying the Oroles are interested in getting southpaw starter Joe Saunders back. Heyman also says the Mariners are talking to the Rays about Morse, who just came off the disabled list yesterday after missing five weeks with a strained quad.

But Connolly says the Orioles aren’t interested in Saunders, who pitched last night for Seattle in its 8-2 loss to the Red Sox and talked afterward about the looming trade deadline.

Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com says the Mariners are talking to teams about Perez and closer Tom Wilhelmsen.

In other words, the rumor mill is buzzing and clearly Jack Zduriencik is at least shopping to see what he can get for some of his players as the deadline approaches and the Mariners sit at 50-56 and 8 1/2 games out of a Wild-Card berth on July 31.

-Greg Johns

Wedge doesn’t expect Mariners to be dealing

With his team riding a five-game winning streak going into Sunday’s series finale with the Astros and a young nucleus of players beginning to produce offensively, Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he’s not anticipating or pushing for any deals before the July 31 trade deadline.

The Mariners are 45-52 and have several veterans on one-year deals who could be valued on the market, including lefty reliever Oliver Perez, outfielder Raul Ibanez, first baseman Kendrys Morales, shortstop Brendan Ryan and lefty starter Joe Saunders, but general manager Jack Zduriencik has said he’s not aggressively seeking trades and Wedge is in agreement.

“Jack and I have already talked about this,” Wedge said. “Unless it’s something that raises the bar, I don’t think we’re going to do anything. We’re not going to move somebody just to move somebody.

“Unless it’s something we feel like, again, it raises the bar – which depending on the team and their situation, it can happen; you don’t ever count on that happening. If not, we stand pat. We’ve got a good group of guys out there. It’s fun to watch them come to the ballpark every day right now.”

-Greg Johns

Ibanez says he wants to stay in Seattle

Raul Ibanez’s prodigious first half with the Mariners has resulted in his name coming up as a potential trade-deadline candidate to a contending team, but the 41-year-old outfielder said Friday he’s had no discussions on that topic with general manager Jack Zduriencik and isn’t looking to leave Seattle.

“I like being here,” Ibanez said prior to the Mariners’ series opener against the Astros on Friday. “I like being a part of this team and I’d like to win here.”

With Seattle sitting 11 games out of a Wild-Card playoff berth at the midseason break, would he be interested in getting dealt to a club with a better shot at the postseason?

“I would say it’s July and why can’t we do that here? That would be my response,” Ibanez said. “Why can’t we do that here? Yeah, I want to play in the playoffs right here. I think we’ve been playing good baseball the last couple of weeks, and I’d like to see that continue.”

Ibanez has been in the playoffs five of his 18 years in the Majors: once with Seattle in 2000, three times with the Phillies from 2009-11 – including their World Series team in ’09 — and last year when played a huge role for the Yankees.

But he’s never been traded in his career and didn’t sound eager to change that now after signing a one-year deal with Seattle and becoming the first player in Major League history with 20-plus homers and 50-plus RBIs at the All-Star break.

Ibanez is tied for fourth in the American League in home runs with 24 and also leads the Mariners with 56 RBIs while batting .267 going into Friday’s games.

“It’s never happened and that’s even more confirmation for me as to why I don’t think about it,” he said of a potential trade . “A lot of times you end up worrying and stressing about things that never happen. I try not to worry and stress and think about things like that. I try to do my job.”

-Greg Johns

Mariners not aggressively pursuing deals yet

Three weeks prior to the July 31 trade deadline, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik says he’s not actively pursuing deals yet despite his team being 10 games under .500 and 10 ½ games back in the American League Wild-Card race.

The Mariners potentially have several interesting trade chips, with left-handed reliever Oliver Perez, veteran outfielders Raul Ibanez, Michael Morse, Jason Bay and Franklin Gutierrez, designated hitter/first baseman Kendrys Morales and shortstop Brendan Ryan all veteran players who’ll be free agents at the end of this season.

Seattle has gotten younger as the season has progressed, with three rookies – second baseman Nick Franklin, shortstop Brad Miller and catcher Mike Zunino – all taking over starting roles in the past month. But Zduriencik doesn’t sound ready to disband a club he thinks has yet to hit full stride after injuries to Gutierrez and Morse and disappointing starts from several others have the team at 40-50 even after a recent uptick with the youthful additions.

“In all fairness, I don’t think I’m going to be an aggressor,” Zduriencik said. “I’m not going to go out there and start shopping our players. I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. We have three weeks before the trading deadline. Our goal is to put a healthy club on the field.

“You have to entertain calls when people call. And they are calling. You have to listen to what they have to say and you ultimately have to do what’s best for the organization. But we’ve been through a lot in the early part of this year, between struggles and injuries and setbacks. We’ve liked what’s happened this last week, but who knows?

“I don’t have a crystal ball and I can’t predict one way or the other what is going to happen. But I’ll do my job, as I’m supposed to do. And if something makes sense, then you’re certainly going to listen.”

Ibanez and Morales are having strong seasons offensively and have provided needed middle-of-the-order production. Perez has been outstanding after re-inventing himself as a left-handed relief specialist the past two years, while Bay — another former Mets castoff — has provided some help as well in the outfield.

Morse got off to a hot start and is a legitimate power threat, but has dealt with a broken finger and now a strained quadriceps that has him on the 15-day disabled lists, though he’s expected back shortly. Gutierrez is also on the disabled list with a hamstring issue being the latest in his long list of health problems, while Ryan lost his starting shortstop role to Miller after struggling at the plate for a second straight year.

-Greg Johns

Mariners looking to extend Felix Hernandez’s contract

Felix Hernandez has two years at $40.5 million remaining on his contract with the Mariners, who’d like to lock him up for a longer term at some point this offseason.

Hernandez, 26, is often the subject of trade speculation from teams wondering if Seattle would be willing to move him in exchange for much-needed offense, but general manager Jack Zduriencik continues to steadfastly say his ace isn’t going anywhere.

Zduriencik plays things close to the vest, but indicated again Tuesday that keeping Hernandez long-term is a priority.

“We’ve always had a great relationship with the agency that represents him. It’s still that way,” Zduriencik said. “To get into any talks about extensions or anything, I wouldn’t want to publicly do that. But he’s made it clear he’d like to stay here and we’ve made it clear we’d like to keep him. And that’s the best way to answer that.”

– Greg Johns

Orioles send Andino to Mariners for young outfielder

The Mariners and Orioles pulled off a trade Tuesday as Baltimore sent infielder Robert Andino to Seattle for outfielder Trayvon Robinson.

This one makes sense from both sides. Andino, 28, is a career .235 hitter who has started 233 games for the Orioles over the past two years, primarily at second base in place of the oft-injured Brian Roberts. But Roberts is expected back and Baltimore recently added infielder Alexi Casilla from the Twins to their infield group.

The Mariners recently released Munenori Kawasaki, who was their utility infielder last season. Andino figures to fill that role, or challenge shortstop Brendan Ryan, an excellent defender who hit just .194 last season.

Robinson, 25, has played the last two months in the Majors both the past two seasons, but figured to be in a battle for a roster spot this coming spring if Seattle adds a veteran corner outfielder either by trade or the free agency market, as expected.

Robinson is out of Minor League options, so he would have either had to make the 25-man roster or be exposed to waivers. So the deal was done and now both players will get new starts in new cities.

The Orioles lost outfielders Nate McLouth and Endy Chavez in free agency this offseason. Robinson hit .215 with five home runs and 26 RBIs in 90 games over the past two years for Seattle afer arriving as a well-regarded prospect from the Dodgers organization.

– Greg Johns

Zduriencik says Mariners not in Hamilton chase

While there has been speculation that the Mariners would be a potential pursuer of free agent slugger Josh Hamilton, Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik indicated Friday night that his club isn’t targeting the five-time All-Star outfielder.

The Mariners looked into Hamilton’s situation and have had conversations with agent Mike Moye, but Zduriencik doesn’t see a likely match in terms of the years and dollars the 2010 AL MVP will be seeking.

“At the end of the day, when you gauge the market, you have to be realistic about where it will end up,” Zduriencik told MLB.com. “And there’s a strong possibility that one will exceed where we’re at.”

So rather than wait and watch Hamilton’s market play out over what could be a drawn-out process this winter, Zduriencik said the Mariners will look elsewhere to beef up their offense. Seattle has some payroll room and a corner outfield spot open after trading Ichiro Suzuki last year. Ichiro was making $18 million of the Mariners’ approximate $85 million payroll in 2012.

The Mariners have already announced their intention to move in the outfield fences at Safeco Field next year, which should help bolster an offense that was last in the American League in runs and home runs despite ranking fifth in the league in both those categories on the road.

Seattle is building around a young nucleus, but would like to add a couple veterans to the mix. Zduriencik said he expects to be able to do that, either through trades or free agency. But Hamilton doesn’t figure to be part of that equation.

“You have to be realistic about how you’re going to allocate your dollars,” Zduriencik said. “Some of these things drag out and if you’re sitting there waiting on one chip, other chips in front of you might go away and you end up with nothing.”

Here’s my full story after talking with Zduriencik.

– Greg Johns

Mariners still shopping after dealing League, Delabar

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik announced the trades of former All-Star closer Brandon League and right-handed reliever Steve Delabar moments after Seattle beat Toronto on Monday night and he might not be done dealing just yet.

League was sent to the Dodgers for a pair of prospects, while Delabar went to the Blue Jays for outfielder Eric Thames..

Thames is currently in Triple-A and having a big year, but has spent parts of the past two seasons with Toronto and will join the Mariners on Tuesday. Expect him to replace Carlos Peguero, who was packing his bags post-game and likely is headed back to Tacoma after struggling as Ichiro Suzuki’s fill-in following his trade to the Yankees.

Peguero has hit just .146 and struck out 22 times in 41 at-bats. Thames, 25, hit .257 with 15 home runs and 48 RBIs in 510 at-bats over the past two years with Toronto.

As for the two prospects in the League deal, outfielder Leon Landry is a 22-year-old putting up big numbers in Class-A ball. He’ll report to the Mariners’ High Desert team. And right-handed pitcher Logan Bawcom is a 23-year-old reliever who has 20 saves and a 2.03 ERA while splitting time between the Dodgers’ A and AA teams this season.

What might be left for the Mariners?  Starters Kevin Millwood and Jason Vargas could be available in the right scenarios and catcher Miguel Olivo presumably is being shopped as well as a veteran in the final months of his contract and having lost much of his playing time to Jesus Montero and John Jaso.

“We have conversations going on,” Zduriencik said. “You don’t know where it’ll lead from here. But we’ll see. We’ve been working on these other trades for a while and this is where we settled [on Monday night].”

– Greg Johns

Mariners’ League still in mix as deadline nears

Mariners reliever Brandon League’s name continues to be mentioned prominently in trade rumors as we approach the last 24 hours before MLB’s non-waiver trade deadline — which is 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

League, 29, will be a free agent at season’s end and Seattle is in a seller’s position, sitting 10 games under .500 and 14 games out of first place in the AL West. The right-hander’s name has been linked to talks with the Dodgers, Giants, Angels and White Sox, but Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik plays things close to the vest and most of his previous trades — including last week’s deal of Ichiro Suzuki to the Yankees — came with no advance warning.

The same was true last December when Michael Pineda went to the Yankees for Jesus Montero, as well as last year’s trade deadline deals that sent Doug Fister to the Tigers and Erik Bedard to the Red Sox.

All that is certain now is that Zduriencik is exploring the market for League, a durable veteran whose 181 appearances since the start of 2010 are the most of any American League reliever. League gave up three hits and three runs in Seattle’s 7-6 win over the Royals on Sunday, but has generally pitched well since losing his closer’s role to Tom Wilhelmsen in late May. Since then, he’s posted a 2.96 ERA with 27 hits, 8 runs, 7 walks and 14 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings.

Overall he’s 0-5 with a 3.63 ERA and nine saves this season after saving 37 games in 2011 when he earned his first All-Star berth. League has about $1.8 million remaining on this year’s $5 million deal.

The other two pitchers the Mariners might be tempted to move would be starters Jason Vargas and Kevin Millwood. Vargas, 29, has the most value since he’s under team control for another year as he heads into his final season of arbitration eligibility. He’s also having his best season as a starter (11-7, 3.76 ERA), so Zduriencik wouldn’t likely deal him unless he received a quality offensive prospect or two in return.

Millwood, 37,  is in the final two months of a one-year, $1 million deal he signed as a non-roster invitee. He’s pitched well this season, but lack of run support has left his record at 4-8 with a 3.90 ERA. The veteran knows he could be dealt to a contender, but isn’t spending a lot of time thinking about it.

“That’s just another thing I can’t control, so I try not to worry about things like that,” he said. “Whatever happens, happens.”

– Greg Johns

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