When the Mariners announced after the season that they were bringing in the fences at Safeco, the obvious reaction was that they were trying to help their chances of luring a power hitter this winter, and they have been connected to Justin Upton in trade talks and Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Adam LaRoche in free agency. However, according to CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman, it’s not all about power with the Mariners: they’re interested in Michael Bourn and are currently meeting with his agent, Scott Boras.
With B.J. Upton, Angel Pagan and Denard Span all filling vacancies, the market for center fielders would seem to be dwindling some, so it’d be great news for Bourn if the Mariners stayed involved. They might be his best chance of matching the five-year, $75.25 million deal that B.J. Upton got from the Braves.
If the Mariners do get Bourn, they’d likely seek to trade Franklin Gutierrez, even though he’d bring little in return after all of his injuries. He’d make the team very lefty heavy at the top of the order. The Mariners also have left-handed hitters Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, John Jaso and Michael Saunders as likely starters, and Ackley, Seager and Jaso would likely all occupy top-four spots in the lineup if the season started today.
The Braves clinched a postseason berth with Saturday’s 10-1 win over the Nationals. Now, the only question is whether they’ll get there with an NL East division title or via one of two wild card spots currently up for grabs.
Granted, things are looking pretty good on the division title front. After losing their second straight game to the Braves, the Nationals sit 10.5 games back of first place in the NL East, and every other division rival is at least 15 games out. The Braves, meanwhile, carry a magic number of four; should they clinch, it’ll be their 19th franchise title and 14th since they migrated to the East division in 1994.
They certainly looked like postseason contenders on Saturday. Mike Foltynewicz led the charge with six innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball, limiting the Nationals to four hits while rookie right-hander Austin Voth kept the Braves scoreless through 5 2/3 frames. Things started to tip in Atlanta’s favor in the sixth inning: Nick Markakis put the team on the board with an RBI single, and a four-run breakout in the seventh helped cement a sizable lead. Over the last three innings, the Braves found opportunity after opportunity against the Nationals’ bullpen, capitalizing on walks, throwing errors, and productive outs as they climbed toward a double-digit finish.
The win didn’t come without some sacrifice, however. The Braves lost Charlie Culberson to a facial injury after he was struck by a Fernando Rodney fastball in the seventh inning, and they’ll likely be without him for the remainder of the regular season — pending a formal diagnosis, of course. Culberson’s loss isn’t the only one the club is feeling right now, either, as Johan Camargo ended his season with a hairline fracture in his right shin and Freddie Freeman is playing through a minor bout of elbow soreness after making an early exit from Friday’s 5-0 shutout.