It appears that most of the baseball world joined me in taking the better part of the last week off to celebrate some sort of holiday and presumably watch a little (European?) football. There haven't been many moves since Nick Swisher signed with Cleveland: Justin Upton is still employed by the D'backs, Michael Bourn remains unsigned, and Raul Ibanez's acquisition still doesn't make a ton of sense. Par for the course in late December/early January.
Of course, there still are a couple of rumors floating around about the Mariners. First up, Buster Olney reports that the M's have been talking to the Dodgers about Andre Ethier, though he also notes that discussions aren't serious yet. I talked about Ethier at the start of the off-season, and even with his platoon issues, I think he still makes some sense as an every day player.
The problem with Ethier is his $17 million per year contract. (My suggestion that salary relief might have been a plausible motivation for LA to deal Ethier looks silly in the light of their new TV deal.) The Dodgers can afford to spend lavishly around the diamond but the Mariners would probably not offer a significant return package unless LA agreed to pay a decent portion of Ethier's salary. Given where the Dodgers are on the win curve, and the Mariners presumed reluctance to move significant contributors at the major league level, these trade talks look like a non-starter.
Second, Jon Morosi tweeted that the Mariners have also contacted the Marlins about the availability of Giancarlo Stanton. It's nice to hear that Jack Z kicks everyone's tires, but I can't see a deal happening here either. The Marlins hold all of the cards with Stanton: he's young, excellent, and under team control for four more seasons.
Seattle does have one of the few farm systems in the game with enough dynamite to land one of the league's biggest fish. Unfortunately, such a trade would completely gut the system. I can't imagine the Marlins parting with Stanton without receiving at least three of Mike Zunino, Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, and James Paxton, and even that wouldn't be enough to complete the deal. Even if such a trade was plausible, I couldn't endorse it. Like the Erik Bedard deal, this scenario would essentially push the M's in to win now mode when they simply aren't ready for it.
Finally, Justin Smoak's name just keeps coming up in Baltimore. Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun talked about Smoak as a possible target for an Oriole team that has been quiet thus far in the off-season. Connolly tosses out Chris Tillman as a potential return piece, a name that A: makes me giddy and B: sounds a bit too good to be true.
Tillman aside, Smoak to Baltimore does make some sense. The O's have an opening at first base and they can expect Smoak's numbers to tick up in friendly Camden Yards. Assuming Kendrys Morales can adequately cover first, Smoak may be the odd man out in the jumble of first basemen and designated hitters on the roster. With that in mind, if the M's get a decent offer for Smoak, I wouldn't be surprised if they consider him expendable.