Offseason Outlook: Seattle Mariners

Next up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Mariners.  Their likely commitments for 2010:

C – Rob Johnson – $400K
C – Adam Moore – $400K
1B – Mike Carp – $400K
2B – Jose Lopez – $2.3MM
SS – Josh Wilson – $400K
3B – Matt Tuiasosopo – $400K
IF – Jack Hannahan – $410K
OF/IF – Bill Hall – $1.25MM
LF – Michael Saunders – $400K
CF – Franklin Gutierrez – $455K+
RF – Ichiro Suzuki – $17MM
OF – Ryan Langerhans – $500K+
DH –

SP – Felix Hernandez – $3.8MM+
SP – Ryan Rowland-Smith – $420K
SP – Jason Vargas – $405K
SP – Brandon Morrow – $425K
SP – Ian Snell – $4.25MM

Other candidates: Doug Fister – $400K

RP – David Aardsma – $419K+
RP – Mark Lowe – $418K+
RP – Sean White – $400K
RP – Shawn Kelley – $400K
RP – Chris Jakubauskas – $400K
RP – Garrett Olson – $420K
RP – Carlos Silva – $11.5MM

Other commitments: Yuniesky Betancourt – $1MM, Jack Wilson – $600K buyout

Non-tender candidates: Ryan Langerhans

It is difficult to project the Mariners' payroll.  I have them around $49MM before arbitration raises to Gutierrez, Hernandez, Aardsma, Lowe, Langerhans (Langerhans may be non-tendered).  I'll estimate these raises to cost an additional $13MM, putting them in the low $60 millions range.  While the Ms entered 2009 with a $98.9MM payroll according to Cot's, it might be a stretch to say they have $35MM+ to spend this winter.

The Mariners apparently saved $8MM in 2010 payroll when Kenji Johjima opted out of his contract.  With Moore inexperienced and Johnson having all kinds of offseason surgeries, GM Jack Zduriencik figures to be in the market for a veteran catcher.  If he doesn't go the free agent route, Zduriencik has shown a recent willingness to take on portions of bad contracts with Hall and Snell.  He could call the Diamondbacks about Chris Snyder, who has $11.25MM remaining on his deal over the next two years.

Will Jack Wilson's defense at shortstop be enough for the Mariners to value him at $7.8MM net?  Perhaps not, but the two sides could renegotiate at a lower salary.  The shortstop trade market offers mainly J.J. Hardy, while Marco Scutaro and Miguel Tejada top the free agents.  It would not be surprising to see Zduriencik pursue Hardy, a player he drafted as head of the Brewers' scouting department.  Would Dave Cameron's suggested offer of Morrow interest the Brewers?

If the Ms intend to build upon 2009's 85 wins, they'll need to add multiple hitters.  They've got the vacancies – first base, third base, DH, and left field are currently open.  Re-signing Russell Branyan and/or Adrian Beltre wouldn't be a terrible idea.  While Gonzaga alum Jason Bay might be a speculative match, he doesn't seem like Zduriencik's type.  I'd expect Seattle's GM to consider value free agents like Carlos Delgado, Nick Johnson, Troy Glaus, Gary Sheffield, Brian Giles, and Jim Thome.  The trade market offers Brad Hawpe, Milton Bradley, and perhaps Lyle Overbay and Josh Willingham, not that the Mariners have been linked to them.  Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times heard rumblings the Ms could pursue Orlando Hudson, shifting Lopez to another position or club.  Zduriencik could go many different ways with these four spots.  His shrewd pickups of Branyan, Gutierrez, and Aardsma last winter suggest he'll succeed.

The Mariners led the AL with a 3.87 ERA last year, so it's tempting to leave the pitching staff alone (obviously the defense deserves credit too).  However, the rotation could use an upgrade or two behind Hernandez.  Washburn and Bedard's 216 innings of 2.71 ball are gone, and Rowland-Smith's peripherals suggest his 3.74 ERA will be hard to repeat.  Fortunately, the free agent market offers a host of intriguing bargain buys.

The Mariners could look very different in 2010 – they have potential needs at catcher, first base, shortstop, third base, left field, DH, and in the rotation.  On top of that, they've got big arbitration cases (and possible extension attempts) in Hernandez, Gutierrez, and Aardsma.  The Mariners weren't mentioned in our Offseason Storylines post a month ago, but their winter should be very active and interesting.

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