Seattle Mariners Offseason Plan – If The M’s Had The Rays’ Budget

1 of 8

At (or near) the start of the offseason, it can be fun to come up with an “offseason plan” for your favorite team. The goal is to create the team that you so desperately wish the GM would just hurry up and build already. It’s a tradition as fun as it is narcissistic: you’re the boss, and nobody can tell you otherwise. You’re building a dream team, and will not be stopped.

We haven’t exactly done that here at ECS, and we’re not exactly going to. We came up with some predictions as to what the Seattle Mariners were most likely to do,  then followed it up with what the M’s might be up to if they had a virtually unlimited budget. That one was particularly fun, if not a bit indulgent.

Having gone to one extreme, let’s now explore the other. Last year, the lowest (opening day) payroll in baseball belonged to the Houston Astros at $44,544,174. The Miami Marlins spent about $3 million more than them, and the Rays were 28th at $77 million. That number is going to come down, whereas the Astros and Marlins have shown they can and will support a larger payroll when not explicitly rebuilding. Thus, it appears quite likely that the Rays have the lowest payroll ceiling in MLB.

We’ve played around and given the Mariners a $200 million budget, but what happens if we set their budget in the $65 million range? Let’s say they have no TV contract and ownership got all wrapped up in an investment scandal. And Seattle’s a city of 150,000 or something. Basically, that’s the budget, like it or not, and the team’s always been like this. With that in mind, let’s do some time-traveling with the goal of un-making some decisions that these Cheapo Mariners would never have made.

Robinson Cano? Re-signed with New York last year, and his second-most serious suitor was the Dodgers, as expected. Felix Hernandez just became a free agent following the conclusion of his first extension. Kyle Seager has never heard the word “extension.” Fernando Rodney was never so much as considered for this roster. There was no trade for Austin Jackson or his projected $8 million salary. Anyone who makes it to arbitration instantly becomes a trade candidate. This is a strange, strange world we live in, and nobody’s quite sure how the Mariners are going to replace Felix’s production.

But according to Cheapo Jack Zduriencik, there will be no rebuild. The Mariners have a capable ace in Hisashi Iwakuma, and he’ll be around for one more season. There’s actually a lot of strong pitching on this team, and most of the rotation has ace upside. There’s youth and there’s depth, but there’s also a clear need to improve.

Iwakuma’s making $7 million and is the team’s current highest-paid player. Kyle Seager is next at $5 million, and third is Michael Saunders at $2.9 million (since the Cheapo Mariners never signed Willie Bloomquist, either). All in all, the only Cheapo Mariners with guaranteed contracts are Iwakuma (since the option was picked up) and Danny Hultzen, who will make $1.7 million in the minors. The arb guys (Seager, Saunders, Logan Morrison, Tom Wilhelmsen, Charlie Furbush, and Dustin Ackley) are projected via MLB Trade Rumors to make $16.4 million combined. So the M’s are around $25 million with a long way to go.

These M’s may have a tiny budget, but they still have a decent amount of money to play with this offseason. Let’s get to work putting together a team on the cheap!