Another week, another Inbox. Keep those questions coming!
What do you think the chances are of the Mariners moving Mike Carp to third base? He has shown he's willing to work hard and put in effort in the offseason, plus they need a good bat there and it is easier to add another bat either at DH or left field.
-- Gustavo C., Mount Vernon, Wash.
You aren't the first person to raise that question, so it's worth addressing. While Carp surprised manager Eric Wedge last year with his defensive ability at first base and in left field after coming to camp with some questions in that regard, I just don't see a move to third base happening this season.
Carp told me last year that he'd played strictly first base since he was 14, with a little outfield mixed in when he reached pro ball. A lot of kids play different positions growing up, but he's never been anywhere in the infield outside of first base in his life. And while he actually looked pretty good in getting to some balls in the outfield that required some athleticism, it's a whole different deal playing the hot corner.
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Carp slimmed down from 232 pounds to 205 last year and that made a world of difference both at the plate and in the field. Certainly his bat would project well at third base, but it just seems to me that now that he's finally settling in and finding a niche in the Majors, it would be extremely difficult to start him at an entirely new defensive position unless you thought that was his only chance to contribute over the long haul. And I don't think that is the case, given Seattle's long search for a quality hitter both at DH and left field.
Do you see Joey Votto as a legitimate trade target for the Mariners? They have been linked to him often.
-- Michael H., Tucson, Ariz.
This is one of those Hot Stove rumors that really needs to be put to rest. Dave Cameron wrote a while ago on his USS Mariner blog that instead of laying out huge cash for free agent Prince Fielder, it would make more sense for the Mariners to offer Michael Pineda and others in a trade for Votto, who has two years and $26.5 million remaining on his contract in Cincinnati.
It made for interesting Internet discussion, but there is zero indication that there ever has been any talk between the two teams about such a deal. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon last month he has no intention of trading Votto. Said Jocketty: "We haven't talked about it. I wish that people would stop writing it. Why would we trade one of the best players in the game? We're trying to win."
How much longer do you think the Mariners will continue to hold on to Chone Figgins? With two years and around $17 million left on his deal, I know he'd be hard to trade, but could they do like they did with Milton Bradley and just cut their losses?
-- Shane L., Puyallup, Wash.
They could just release him, as they did with Bradley when they absorbed nearly $9 million on the last year of his contract last May. But obviously they'd prefer to get something in return via trade if possible.
I do think it's unlikely Figgins is back with the team next season, given his lack of production and the youth movement at his position with Kyle Seager and Alex Liddi. The options are either to make a Bradley-Carlos Silva type deal for another problematic contract and player (think Carlos Zambrano and his $18 million for 2012) or be willing to assume a fair amount of the money still owed Figgins in a trade with a team that thinks it might turn Figgins back to the quality leadoff-type hitter the Mariners thought they were getting two years ago.
I've read that the Mariners had some scouts watching Jamie Moyer throw in San Diego recently. What is the likeliness of his return to Seattle?
-- Patrick M., Federal Way, Wash.
Crazy as it seems for a team undergoing a significant youth movement, a case could be made that Seattle might be the perfect fit for the 48-year-old Moyer to attempt a comeback from Tommy John surgery.
The Mariners likely need a veteran to bridge the gap until a few of their prize prospects are ready. Moyer likely needs a park like Safeco Field, where his soft-tossing, lefty efforts have already proven quite effective. If he's agreeable to a Minor League deal that doesn't require a spot on the 40-man roster, I could see Seattle being one of the teams willing to find out if there is a final chapter in Moyer's amazing book. But that's far from a slam dunk.
Do the Mariners have any interest in bringing back free agents that proved helpful last year like Jamey Wright or David Aardsma? I'm not hearing anything about them anymore.
-- Klaiten K., Everett, Wash.
Both relievers have a chance to be re-signed by Seattle, but will likely wait and see what kind of offers they get on the open market before committing anywhere. Wright signed a Minor League deal for $900,000 last year and wound up making the club and being a solid part of the bullpen. He'd love to come back, but I'm sure he'd also love to get a guaranteed Major League offer, so he'll see if that is forthcoming anywhere before making any decisions.
Aardsma is in a different boat, having not been able to pitch at all in the big leagues last year and now recovering from Tommy John surgery that will keep him out at least until midseason again. That's why Seattle chose not to go to arbitration and be forced to pay him $3.6 million next year. He's instead a free agent and likely will need to accept a much lower offer and prove to someone that he can get healthy again.
Will Danny Hultzen or Nick Franklin be part of the Mariners' Opening Day roster?
-- Levi S., Moses Lake, Wash.
Of the two, Hultzen has the best chance despite having yet to pitch in the Minors. He's a developed college pitcher and has handled things well in the Arizona Fall League. He'll turn 22 later this month, the same age as Pineda last year.
Franklin is still only 20 and played just 21 games at Double-A in 2011 before getting hurt. If you're looking for a crystal ball, I'd project Hultzen for a mid-season promotion to the Majors, with Franklin still being at least a year or more away. But there are a whole lot of things that can happen between now and then, and only the players can answer that question with their performance on the field.