Mariners Reportedly ‘Went in Heavy’ on Kris Bryant at Deadline, Could Target Him as FA

The Mariners recently declined their $20 million club option on third baseman Kyle Seager and will be looking to fill that void this winter, but they were also apparently trying to upgrade at the trade deadline. More specifically, they were looking for a versatile player who could handle third and some other positions as well.

According to Shannon Drayer and James Osborn of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Talking Mariners podcast, the M’s were one of the teams targeting Kris Bryant as the Cubs held their midseason garage sale.

“They went in heavy on him,” Drayer said. “Obviously they liked him, but they didn’t go in heavy enough.”

What exactly that means is ambiguous, though hindsight tells us the Cubs’ haul of righty Caleb Kilian and slugger Alexander Canario was a pretty solid return from the Giants. Speaking of which, San Francisco might yet have competition from Seattle when it comes to employing Bryant in the future.

“And maybe I’m just living in a different world and an unrealistic world, but to me, the place to look for the long-term answer is it’s at third base,” Osborn said. “And whether that’s in the trade market or the free-agent market, I think that there’s one clear candidate when I hear Jerry Dipoto talk about the kind of player that they’re looking for, that checks every single box, and probably double-checks them in Sharpie, and it’s Kris Bryant.”

Giants president Farhan Zaidi has spoken highly of Bryant, and for good reason, but has been somewhat noncommittal when it comes to locking down the former MVP moving forward. Despite what seems like a mutual desire to make something work, the Giants have several other players to either keep or bring into the fold and might not see Bryant as the number one priority right now.

“And if that’s the case, you as the Mariners, a guy who plays first, third, the corner outfield and center in a pinch defines what you’re looking for,” Drayer said. “Playoff experience, youngish West Coast guy, high school in Nevada, went to college in San Diego, he played for a championship team [the 2016 Cubs, which people forget] that went from nothing to something and broke a curse.

“I mean, everything that you want from a guy is right there. And he plays the position that you’re going to ask him to play, you don’t need to move him anywhere to make it happen.”

There’s obviously a little homerism going on there, but it’s all rooted in reality. Dipoto loves to make splashy moves and the Mariners currently have only $76 million or so in luxury tax obligations with $56 million in actual salary. Bryant will earn more annually than Seager would have gotten on his option and there’s still plenty of room to add more players even with a big long-term deal.

Gee, that situation sounds awfully familiar. Is there another team with similar financial flexibility and a need to add good players? Of course, that pesky CBA could mean the hot stove is going to be nothing but a pilot light for a while yet.

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