Mariners have interest in free agent lefty Hong-Chih Kuo

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Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported last Sunday that free agent left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo was drawing interest from “three West Coast teams.”

We can now identify one of those clubs.

According to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, the Mariners have been “looking closely” at Kuo recently and could be moving toward an agreement.

Kuo surrendered 29 runs in 27 innings last season out of the Dodgers’ bullpen and has undergone five elbow surgeries in his career, but he posted a dominant 1.20 ERA and 73/18 K/BB ratio across 60 innings in 2010 and has held left-handed batters to a .205/.282/.318 batting line for his career. The 30-year-old southpaw might be worth the risk for Seattle and other clubs on a non-guaranteed minor league contract.

Troy Tulowitzki held a workout for eleven clubs

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Yesterday free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki held a workout in California and representatives from at least eleven teams were on hand, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo. Among the clubs present: the Giants — who were said to have a “heavy presence,” including team president Farhan Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy — the Angels, Red Sox, Cubs, Padres, White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Phillies, Tigers and Pirates.

Your first reaction to that may be “Um, really? For Tulowitzki?” But a moment’s reflection makes it seem more sensible. We’re so tied up in thinking of a player through the filter of their contract and, when we’ve done that with Tulowitzki over the past several years, it has made him seem like an albatross given the $20 million+ a year he was earning to either not play or play rather poorly due to injuries.

It was just the contract that was the albatross, though, right? An almost free Tulowitzki — which he will be given that the Blue Jays are paying him $38 million over the next two seasons — is a different matter. If you sign him it’ll be for almost no real money and he stands a chance to be an average or maybe better-than-average shortstop, which is pretty darn valuable. You might even get one quirky late career return-to-near-glory season from him, in which case you’ve hit the lottery. If, however, as seems more likely, he just can’t get it done at all, you’re not out anything and you can cut him with little or no pain.

Eleven teams think he’s at least a look-see. I bet one of them will offer him a major league deal. Maybe more than one. He’ll probably have his pick of non-roster invites to spring training. I can’t see the downside to at least doing that much.