Last week in the Dominican Republic, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik and team president Kevin Mather had a workout with multiple Cuban players.
Among those players were two of the market’s premiere Cuban free agents prospects, second basemen: Hector Olivera and Andy Ibanez.
The Internet grew confused and angry at this news. This was finely articulated by a befuddled Baseball America’s Ben Badler–as the Mariners have no visible need for infield upgrades anywhere (outside of first base).
Before the conspiracy theories could come crawling out of the snow like buried gophers, a gigantic gust of wind in the form of a tweet from The News Tribune’s Ryan Divish blew all those thoughts back below. Divish tweeted the day after Badler’s article: “Wouldn’t over think Jack Z and Kevin Mather watching a workout for two Cuban FAs in the Dominican. They were there for organizational meetings.”
The only reason two of the most important individuals of the team’s front office were at team-organized private workouts was because they were already down there just for organizational meetings. Nothing sexy, no hints of intrigue, this simply straight-up coincidence and happenstance.
“Wouldn’t over think Jack Z and Kevin Mather watching a workout for two Cuban FAs in the Dominican. They were there for organizational meetings.”
The hidden agenda
I call shenanigans; this has all the makings of a classic misdirection, a quick and dirty sleight of hand. That doesn’t mean that I am about to go off the deep-end of a conspiracy theory. I believe that what Divish reported is 100% correct.
Taking Divish’s tweet at face value, one can deduce the message is that if Jack Z and Kevin M (not as catchy…) weren’t all the way over in the Dominican Republic already, they would have never seen Mr. Olivera or Mr. Ibanez in person. That’s fair, and quite frankly, probably the truest part of the denial of interest.
Logically, in the thoroughly scheduled life of a GM and team president (especially one with organizational meetings to attend in a foreign country), it seems rather unlikely that this visit was the “accident” it seems to have been played off as.
Even if this meeting was not to sign the talents on display, but something such as establish / continue to flourish relationships with those involved with the process, there was something to be gained here.
There is one fact we can take away from this (even if it ends up meaning absolutely nothing): regardless of the reason why, the Mariners have actively scouted two of the better Cuban free agents on the market. Not only that, but the scouts in question were two of the most influential “scouts” in the front office. Those two aren’t attending this workout if those two were scrubs.
That might end up being the only takeaway from this. But that part is indisputable…
…Unless the entire reason for the appearance at the workout was because they wanted to say hello to some buddies, then I have wasted all of our times and I apologize profusely.
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