Mariners are trying hard for Hamilton, looking at Bourn, Youk

The Seattle Mariners , searching for offense, continue to target slugger Josh Hamilton .

The Mariners probably aren't prepared to meet Hamilton's request for a seven-year deal, but they seem to have emerged as the likeliest alternative to the incumbent Texas Rangers by virtue of their perceived willingness to go longer than most. Seattle may be amenable to five years, or perhaps even six, though that is fairly speculative and like all the interested teams they have a wariness about going long for Hamilton.

The Seattle Times had suggested a couple days ago that the Mariners could even have a deal ready for Hamilton to go if the incumbent Rangers dropped out of the Hamilton derby by virtue of winning the Zack Greinke sweepstakes, but the Los Angeles Dodgers turned out to be the ones to land Greinke. Hamilton reportedly has told the Rangers he will return to them with a chance to match any outside offer he receives.

Reports at the winter meetings suggested Texas might go to four years for Hamilton, though talks with him were put "on hold,'' it was reported in this space, at least while Greinke was pursued.

Texas hadn't made Hamilton its top target. but the loss of Greinke will make them even more determined to land some big players. James Shields , Justin Upton and R.A. Dickey are among other players on their radar.

The Philadelphia Phillies , Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers have been mentioned as other possibilities for Hamilton, though none of them has seemed to be pursuing Hamilton as aggressively as Seattle. The New York Yankees don't seem inclined to get involved, and probably would need Hamilton to fall into their lap much later to have any chance at all.

The Mariners also are keenly interested in leadoff hitter extraordinaire Michael Bourn , though it isn't known whether they have the financial flexibility to sign both he and Bourn. Justin Upton, Michael Morse , Cody Ross , Kevin Youkilis, and to a lesser degree Nick Swisher, are on Seattle's radar as well.

The Mariners have a stash of good young pitchers but have consistently finished at or near the bottom in key offensive stats in recent years.

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