Mariners to be aggressive adding bats in offseason

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SEATTLE (AP) — After narrowly missing the postseason, the Seattle Mariners will spend the offseason aggressively trying to add offense to their lineup.

And general manager Jack Zduriencik said Tuesday the club is ready to raise payroll to find the offense that will help end the second-longest playoff drought in baseball.

"We all know from time to time we were challenged offensively so to add pieces to that offense is very important," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. "Jack and I have talked about that and I would really like to have a right-handed bat to hit behind (Robinson Cano)."

Zduriencik and McClendon spoke two days after Seattle concluded an 87-75 season. The Mariners finished one game behind Oakland in the AL wild card standings, taking it down to the final day before the A's won their finale to avoid a one-game playoff with the Mariners.

Seattle had the best pitching staff in baseball, leading the league with a 3.17 ERA, anchored by ace Felix Hernandez. But the offensive woes were too much to overcome. Seattle was 14th in the AL in batting average, last in on-base percentage and 12th in slugging.

McClendon and Zduriencik reiterated that being in the playoff hunt was important for a young team, but that no one is satisfied with missing the postseason.

"I think the one thing that is really interesting about our club, I think we're a club that is built for the playoffs. But now we have to get ourselves to the point where we're built for the regular season," McClendon said. "I don't think there was a team in baseball that wanted to face the Seattle Mariners in the playoffs because our pitching is just so good. From an offensive standpoint, we've got to get better."

McClendon said he would like to add two hitters and have a more formidable lineup in the Nos. 3-6 spots of his batting order. Two of those spots will be filled by All-Stars Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager.

Cano hit .314 in the first year of a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Mariners, while Seager led Seattle with 25 home runs and 96 RBIs. With those two at second and third base, respectively, Zduriencik said the most likely positions where offense would be added are the corner outfield spots, designated hitter and first base.

Designated hitter would be the most obvious upgrade. Seattle's DH — which included Cano for eight games — hit a combined .190 with 15 homers and 50 RBIs in 152 games. They were the only team in the American League with a DH average under .200.

Many of Seattle's positions should be set entering spring training, pending any offseason additions. Catcher Mike Zunino and center fielder Austin Jackson join Cano and Seager as locks having a spot going forward. McClendon was pleased with the play of Logan Morrison at first base and his .284 batting average after the All-Star break, and either Chris Taylor or Brad Miller will be the starting shortstop.

Zduriencik also confirmed, not surprisingly, that the club will pick up the 2015 option on right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma. Seattle could have all five spots in its rotation locked down before the start of spring training with Hernandez, Iwakuma, James Paxton, Roenis Elias and Taijuan Walker. But as the Mariners saw this season, having depth in the rotation is vital. Ten different pitchers ended up starting for Seattle.

"Ultimately as a manager it's your job to determine what success and failure is for your team," McClendon said. "In a lot of ways we did a lot of great things. And in some ways we didn't do a lot of great things. All in all, it was a very successful season, but am I satisfied with where we are? No. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely."

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