Give the current payroll projection for 2017, it’s extremely unlikely the Seattle Mariners will make any blockbuster free agent signings despite being so close to returning to the playoffs this past season.
After falling just short of the playoffs this year, Seattle Mariners‘ fans are understandably excited about the future. (Albeit cautiously so, given the amount of false starts they’ve endured over the years.)
The question is, what will the Mariners do to improve the team? No doubt, free agency will play a significant role. However, don’t expect general manager Jerry Dipoto to throw big money at a Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista, no matter how much either player would boost the franchise’s hopes of ending the longest current postseason drought in baseball.
Ironically, part of the reason for this goes back to the last time the Mariners did follow this strategy. As everyone remembers — not least because of how surprised we all were — they signed Robinson Cano to a staggering 10-year, $240 million contract at the end of December.
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As a result, the Mariners will be paying the seven-time All-Star $24 million in 2017. However, this is only the start when it comes to how much money the organization is on the hook for next season.
In addition, the M’s will pay $26 million to Felix Hernandez, along with $14 million to both Hisashi Iwakuma and Nelson Cruz. When added to Cano’s contract, this totals $78 million for just four players.
If you use the 2016 opening day payroll of $142 million — which was an all-time high for the franchise — as a barometer, this leaves just $64 million for the rest of the team. And we haven’t even got to Kyle Seager‘s $10.5 million, the pending arbitration cases for James Paxton and Taijuan Walker or the $7 million now owed to Seth Smith, after picking up his option.
No doubt, certain people will argue that money should be no object to the Mariners. After all, they were able to add an extra $19 million to the payroll this past season, after spending $123 million in 2015.
Regardless, all indications are that Dipoto will take a more measured approach to improving the roster for the 2017 campaign. Expect his priorities to be to add depth and raise the overall talent level, with particular attention paid to shortstop, first base and the outfield.
Overall, there will likely be certain fans frustrated by this approach. However, given what the 48-year old has already achieved in just over a year in Seattle, he deserves to receive trust and more time from the Mariners faithful.
Taking everything into account, what would you do in respect of free agency, especially with the Mariners being so close this past season? Can you justify making a big free agent signing? Let us know in the comments section below.