Seattle Mariners: The Downside of Signing Jacoby Ellsbury


Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Will the Seattle Mariners make any big moves in the offseason? Will this franchise finally make some noise and progress to that elusive “next level?” Or, will it be business as usual, which consists of being patient with youngsters and augmenting with some cheap veterans?

Until he actually signs somewhere or Seattle issues a formal statement that a deal isn’t happening, we are going to hear about Jacoby Ellsbury. At the moment he is a little busy trying to win the World Series as a member of the Boston Red Sox. After he is done with that little task, he may be chasing a rather lucrative contract.

I want to agree with this article on why the Seattle Mariners should sign Jacoby Ellsbury. I really do.

Unfortunately, I have a bad feeling about this.

Which Star Wars character said it best? Take your pick.

Perhaps this is just the long-term impact of being a Mariners fan. There have been some great years in the past, but overall the franchise has not exactly been a study in excellence. Lately, the progress has been painfully slow and fans are really starting to question the decisions of leadership. Specifically, people are wondering whether general manager Jack Zduriencik’s plan of building from within is actually going to work.

It just feels like Ellsbury is a high-risk, high-reward venture. In addition, because it is the Mariners, Ellsbury could be the team’s one shot at relevancy in 2014. The Mariners are in many ways that starry-eyed dreamer who buys one raffle ticket or goes up to the roulette table with his one chip. Pick the right number, win big. Pick the wrong number, continue down the path of disappointment and failure.

The Mariners have spent money in the past and they aren’t necessarily a “small market” team, whatever that term means these days. However, the Mariners are not going to sign Ellsbury and then ink two or three other marquee players. Besides, there just aren’t that many impact players on the open market this year.

Baseball is still a game of high-payroll relevancy. Critics of this theory will point to the Oakland A’s, or the St. Louis Cardinals who made the World Series with their 14th-ranked payroll. However, where did the other three teams in the final four franchises rank in terms of league payroll? First, fourth and fifth.

Any questions?

Money cannot buy a championship but when you look at the history of the league, particularly in recent years, money can buy playoff chances. In other words, if you buy a stack of raffle tickets every year, eventually you will pick a winner. The single-ticket buyer can win on occasion, but not consistently.

Perhaps this Ellsbury thing will all work out. The Mariners sign Jacoby Ellsbury to a big contract. Ellsbury brings a swagger and a winning attitude to Seattle. The young hitters gain confidence with Ellsbury in the lineup. Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma join forces to become the best rotation in the American League. Seattle returns to relevancy.

All is well in the Pacific Northwest, at least from a baseball standpoint.

Then again, Ellsbury could get hurt, or have an Adrian Beltre-like experience. Fans can’t help but worry that Seattle will overpay for Ellsbury and be saddled with a payroll-killing monstrosity of a contract that inhibits progress for years.

I hope I’m wrong, but…I have a bad feeling about this.

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