Yesterday, it was reported that the Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays were discussing possible trades involving left-hander David Price and second baseman Ben Zobrist, and those talks continue today, though it seems that Zobrist is Seattle's top priority, according to CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman.
The Mariners have reportedly been in talks with the Rays regarding Zobrist for weeks now, with the extremely versatile utility-man drawing considerable interest from Seattle. Infielder Nick Franklin has also surfaced frequently in talks as a possible return for the Rays. Franklin is similar to Zobrist in that he possesses the ability to play multiple positions including second base and shortstop.
In a separate column, Heyman adds that talks are ongoing between the two clubs, with various iterations being discussed involving Price plus Zobrist or just Zobrist. Per Heyman, a deal involving Price would center around prized pitching prospect Taijuan Walker along with "two or three other top young players." Walker was frequently brought up in Price discussions over the winter before talks fell through.
The Rays are believed to also be interested in youngsters such as corner infielder DJ Peterson, the Mariners' first round pick last June, and left-hander James Paxton, currently in the midst of a minor league rehab stint. Both are seen as essential parts of Seattle's future, especially Peterson, who has been drawing recognition lately from the scouting community, including a recent 46th overall ranking by Baseball America.
Heyman also mentions prospects Tyler Marlette, Chris Taylor, Edwin Diaz, Luis Gohara, Victor Sanchez, and Patrick Kivlehan as possible targets for the Rays. Shortstop Brad Miller could also be available, though highly regarded catcher Mike Zunino appears to be untouchable.
Also per Heyman, outfielder Dustin Ackley seems to be drawing plenty of buzz for the Mariners, as other teams see untouched potential in him. The 26-year-old Ackley was the second overall pick in the 2009 draft (behind Stephen Strasburg), but has failed to live up to his once lofty potential. A career .242/.310/.351 hitter, Ackley is currently playing left field after being pushed off second base, as well as center field. He is having arguably the worst year of his career, batting .225/.282/.335 with a 76 OPS+ and 0.3 WAR in 298 plate appearances. Ackley is under team control through the 2017 season.