With the conclusion of the World Series comes the start of the offseason, a mystical time when baseball players move from team to team and fans everywhere except Houston get to dream of next year’s championship. That includes us, Mariners fans, ordinary people who follow a perennially bad baseball team. Could the 2014 Mariners be awesome? Sure! Could they win the World Series? Uh, yeah! The Red Sox just went from last place to world champs, and the Mariners didn’t even finish in last place, so when you squint exactly right the odds look fantastic.
The offseason commences with a flurry of activity, and the Mariners wasted no time in becoming part of that flurry. This afternoon they announced their first transactions of the winter (fall?), their first steps towards making an attempted championship-quality 2014 team. Those moves involved Joe Saunders and Franklin Gutierrez, and while the M’s didn’t close the door on involving those two in subsequent championship runs, they did close the door on paying them handsomely.
The team held options for Guti and Saunders, valued at $7.5 million and $8.3 million, respectively. The team will not pick up those options, which everyone already knew was going to happen. Now it has happened, officially. Either of the two could come back, though naturally any such return would happen at a sharply discounted rate. Options get declined when a player’s performance does not justify the potential salary commitment. Which is the case here, times two.
What happened to these guys, you ask? Gutierrez is the most injured dude of all time, and probably just got a paper cut or something while I was typing this. He’s been hurt a lot, and players who are hurt a lot don’t get $7.5 million guarantees. Gutierrez is probably in line for a major league deal somewhere since he’s still got that sweet defense and just finished slugging .503, even if it was only over 151 plate appearances. He’ll get a small guarantee for one year, and it probably won’t come from the Mariners. But maybe it will! The offseason started two days ago. We don’t yet know anything other than that two options have been declined and there’s still no manager.
Joe Saunders came to Seattle and pitched horribly for a lot of innings. Saunders made thirty two starts, most of which were awful. In what is most definitely still a pitcher’s park, Saunders pitched to a 5.26 ERA. His 4.72 FIP was second-worst among qualified AL starters. He was wretched, and as a result will almost certainly be forced to take a minor league deal over the winter. Could the Mariners re-sign him? Sure. Should they? Heavens no. Will they? Hmmm.
So to recap: it’s the offseason, which means things will happen. Two things happened today. Now the Mariners get the chance to do other things, which is good. The Mariners have a lot of other things to do.