Mariners rumors: Jacoby Ellsbury interest waning

Jim Rogash

Seattle is window shopping for impact outfielders at the moment, but Jacoby Ellsbury rumors might be exaggerated.

The Mariners will move on from Franklin Gutierrez this winter. They were connected early and often to Jacoby Ellsbury, since they have an opening and the presumed payroll flexibility to take on the contract he will command. But as ESPN's Jerry Crasnick recently reported, the team might have more interest in less extravagant solutions.

He mentions Carlos Beltran, Jhonny Peralta, and bringing back Kendrys Morales as more immediate concerns for the M's. Nelson Cruz has also been linked Seattle in the whispers heard in and around the GM meetings in Orlando this week.

Ellsbury's agent, Scott Boras -- a name that has long been synonymous with shocking dollar figures -- has set a relatively reasonable $142M benchmark for teams interested in his client. That appears to be a way of setting the opening bid at the figure Carl Craford received from the Red Sox in 2010, and hoping to top that contract as the market escalates.

The Mariners might decide to spread out whatever excess they have to improve in more than one area. One approach they could take is re-signing Morales and bringing in a less expensive upgrade for the outfield. Beltran and Cruz won't be inexpensive, but neither player is likely to command as many years as Ellsbury.

Seattle has some the best prospects in baseball -- nearing or already at the major league level. Signing Ellsbury to a massive deal for what is likely to be at least 5 years could significantly hinder GM Jack Zduriencik in attempting to keep their young core together for the future.

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