Two weeks ago, Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik downplayed the possibility of the Mariners signing free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton, telling, "You have to be realistic about how you're going to allocate your dollars."

The Mariners still might exercise such restraint with Hamilton, but they're at least exploring the possibility of signing him.

Hamilton, 31, is attending the winter meetings, and Mariners officials met with him on Sunday, according to major league sources.

Other unidentified clubs also are believed to have met with Hamilton, but his previous team, the Texas Rangers, currently is working the hardest to sign him, sources say.

The Milwaukee Brewers are on the periphery of the Hamilton sweepstakes, according to those same sources. Johnny Narron, the Brewers' hitting coach, previously was Hamilton's accountability partner and an assistant hitting coach with the Rangers.

Zduriencik declined comment Monday night when asked about the Mariners' meeting with Hamilton.

Hamilton, a Christian, has said in the past that God will help him make his free-agent decision, an indication that he might not go to the highest bidder or best team.

The Mariners, who have finished last in the American League West in each of the past three seasons, certainly would not qualify as the best team.

Outside of right-hander Felix Hernandez, a former Cy Young winner, the M's feature a number of promising young pitchers and hitters. But their offense in recent years has been among the game's worst.