Even after signing Nelson Cruz to a four-year, $58 million contract last week, the Mariners are aggressively pursuing Melky Cabrera, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com echoed Heyman's report earlier today, saying that the Mariners were serious in their pursuit of Cabrera.
Cabrera, who is reportedly looking for a five-year deal in free agency, has also been linked to the White Sox, Reds, Giants and Royals this offseason. He was expected to return to Toronto, though negotiations with the Jays seem to be over now that the team has acquired Michael Saunders while making another high-priced free agent acquisition in Russell Martin.
The Mariners may be willing to give Cabrera a deal similar to Cruz's, according to Heyman, which may be one that the outfielder has to accept if no team is willing to give him the five-year deal that he wants. Cabrera's market is expected to reach its peak in San Diego, with a league-wide expectation that he could sign during the Winter Meetings.
Cabrera, along with ex-teammate Colby Rasmus and slugger Mike Morse, is one of few outfield options on the free agent market following the signings of Cruz (Mariners), Nick Markakis (Braves), Yasmany Tomas (Diamondbacks) to large contracts so far this winter. The trade market for outfielders is a deep one, with names like Justin Upton, Matt Kemp and Yoenis Cespedes said to be available for teams looking for offense.