2011 Contract Issues: Seattle Mariners

The Mariners face three contractual options after the season:

  • Ian Snell has a $6.75MM club option.  If Snell's 2010 work resembles his 2008-09 performance, they'll let him go.
  • Jose Lopez has a $4.5MM club option with a $250K buyout.  If the option is declined, Lopez will still be arbitration-eligible.  Lopez may be traded at some point, but the option appears likely to be exercised.
  • Erik Bedard has an $8MM mutual option that can increase based on performance.  As usual, we find it unlikely for both sides to exercise.

The Mariners free agents after the season include Cliff Lee, Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Sweeney, and Eric Byrnes.  The group is earning over $12MM this year, led by Lee.  About $18MM will be freed up if everyone aside from Lopez departs.

An additional $11.5MM must be allocated toward players under contract, with Felix Hernandez's $3.5MM the biggest bump.  The Mariners will owe raises to Ryan Rowland-Smith, Garrett Olson, Jack Hannahan, Sean White, and Jason Vargas as first-time arbitration players.  David Aardsma and Mark Lowe go for a second time, Brandon League a third, and Casey Kotchman a fourth.  Some of these players figure to be non-tendered.

Despite a busy offseason, the Mariners trimmed payroll by about $8MM this year according to Cot's Baseball Contracts.  Payroll will have to come back up for the Mariners to have spending money in the offseason.


12 Responses to 2011 Contract Issues: Seattle Mariners Leave a Reply

  1. TVReviewsion 5 years ago

    Who’s going to be non-tendered? Garrett Olson?

  2. vtadave 5 years ago

    Kotchman being non-tendered wouldn’t be a shocker. He’d probably command $5 million in arbitration next year and the Mariners may feel they could do better.

  3. $1529282 5 years ago

    I’d say Olson, Hannahan, and Vargas could all be non-tendered.

    Like Dave said, I could see Kotchman as well, especially if Jack Z springs for some offense at first base when the trade deadline rolls around. So far, Kotchman’s been fine in that regard, but it’s hard to realistically expect that to continue.

    • damnitsderek 5 years ago

      Vargas is probably on the fence. If he performs adequately enough this year, the Mariners might as well keep him. Olson is as good as gone, and Hannahan is probably in the same boat. I’d love it if Kotchman got comfortable enough to perform well and stick around, but at this point you’re probably right in him being a non-tender candidate, especially since Seattle gave up so little to acquire him in the first place.

    • damnitsderek 5 years ago

      Vargas is probably on the fence. If he performs adequately enough this year, the Mariners might as well keep him. Olson is as good as gone, and Hannahan is probably in the same boat. I’d love it if Kotchman got comfortable enough to perform well and stick around, but at this point you’re probably right in him being a non-tender candidate, especially since Seattle gave up so little to acquire him in the first place.

  4. bjsguess 5 years ago

    For what it’s worth – I think some of the more recent articles show the Mariner’s payroll closer to $95m. They also have the risk of getting higher depending on the performance they get from Bedard. I want to say that his contract can jump another $6-7m depending on time spent on the roster and innings pitched. Of course, if he hits those numbers Seattle will probably be happy on their return.

  5. bjsguess 5 years ago

    For what it’s worth – I think some of the more recent articles show the Mariner’s payroll closer to $95m. They also have the risk of getting higher depending on the performance they get from Bedard. I want to say that his contract can jump another $6-7m depending on time spent on the roster and innings pitched. Of course, if he hits those numbers Seattle will probably be happy on their return.

  6. Redhawk 5 years ago

    Isn’t Eric “Are they saying Boo-yrnes” Byrnes getting paid by the D-backs?

  7. $3081341 5 years ago

    Byrnes – Gone

    Jr. – Gone*

    Sweeney – Gone*

    *After Season

    If I were Z, I would look to dump Lopez & Snell (just to clear up more cap space, in addition to raising payroll). Between cutting ties w/Jr, Sweeney, Byrnes, Lopez, & Snell that should free up at least 18-20 mil. right there. We can only hope.

  8. I would keep Jose Lopez at $4.5 million, but release Casey Kotchman.

  9. ZoinksScoob 5 years ago

    Obviously, Snell and Bedard won’t be back, unless they come back on minor league contracts.

    Russell Branyan was acquired mid-season, and the M’s have a $5 MM option on him, which I don’t think they’ll exercise. As much as they need the power, Branyan’s back is still a concern. It’s acted up a few times this season (in fact, as I write this, Branyan is missing time with a back problem.) The M’s aren’t expected to contend next season, so Branyan is more of a luxury than anything else. They might re-sign him to a one-year heavily incentive-laden contract with a vesting option for a second year if he reached certain AB or days off the DL thresholds.

    The M’s will probably turn down Jose Lopez’s $4.5 MM option, given his putrid offensive output this year, but then they have to decide whether or not they feel comfortable going to arbitration with him. Can he get that same $4.5 MM from the panel? Weirder things have happened, especially since service time is the #1 factor in arbitration (i.e., this player has as much service time as player X, who makes $4.5 MM, etc.) So the M’s might not have a choice but to non-tender Lopez to get him back for less money. They just might let him go, period, though. I’m sure that they’d like to move Figgins back to 3B (given how bad a 2B he is) and that they’d like to have 2B open for Ackley, if not in 2011 then by 2012 for sure. They could go with Josh Wilson at 2B for 2011 or pick up Luis Castillo from the Mets for a song as a one-year stopgap until Ackley is ready for prime-time.

    Ryan Rowland-Smith is a problem; not only did he have a really bad year, he’s out of options. So I can’t see the M’s going to arbitration with him, but he may not have a spot on the roster at all at this point. He’s a major non-tender candidate.

    Casey Kotchman is all but assured of being non-tendered. His defense at 1B is top-notch, but his hitting was streaky, at best, and he just might be the worst baserunner in the majors… not his speed, but his instincts. He killed a minimum of 10 Mariners scoring opportunities by getting picked off or trying to stretch singles into doubles. He’s making close to $3.5 MM this year, and would get a raise in arbitration. The M’s don’t want to pay him that much just for defense. They might want him back if they feel Justin Smoak needs more seasoning in the minors (personally, I think he does), so the M’s might non-tender Kotchman with the idea of bringing him back at a lower salary to hold the position for Smoak.

    I can’t see the team going to arbitration with Ryan Langerhans, Garrett Olson or Sean White. The former will probably be non-tendered, the latter two will probably sign contracts before submitting terms.

    Fill-in players such as Jamey Wright, Josh Bard, Guillermo Quiroz and Chris Woodward figure to be sent outright to the minors or let go as free agents.

    An interesting situation now exists with catcher Rob Johnson. He was never touted as a strong offensive player, but his defense was lauded up and down throughout the M’s universe. However, he has proven to be more of a liability behind the plate than expected. Quite frankly, he can’t block a ball in the dirt to save his life, and he lets lots of other balls get by him, allowing baserunners to advance without having to attempt steals. In addition, Johnson also has a problem holding onto the ball, as he dropped numerous third strikes this season. The M’s have Adam Moore pretty well locked in as the starting catcher next season, with Steven Baron working his way up through the system. Do the M’s really need to carry Johnson’s poor bat and glove, even as the backup catcher? Johnson is a candidate to be either outrighted or non-tendered this winter as the M’s perform some serious maintenance on their 40-man roster.

    Of course, there’s the Milton Bradley situation to consider. The M’s owe him $10 MM next season, but he’s not worth anything close to that. He can’t play the field anymore, his bat seems to be on its way out as well, and his whole demeanor just screams “get rid of me.” The Rangers might find Bradley attractive if they choose to let Vladimir Guerrero walk as a free agent (doubtful, but it could happen.) Otherwise, the M’s may have to work out a payout scenario to get Bradley off the team. Maybe they guarantee him $1 MM per year for 15 years to walk away, and he can sign with any other team and still get up to $1 MM per season as well. However, for every penny above $1 MM per season he gets from another team, the M’s can deduct that from what they owe him that season. So, for example, if he were to sign a 2-year, $3.5 MM contract with the Angels at $1.75 MM per year, he’s get $1.75 MM from the Angels, but only $250 K from the M’s, for a total of $2 MM each of those two years; he’d still get the $1 MM from the M’s in the 13 following years. That would give the M’s more payroll flexibility in 2011.

    And, of course, the M’s could decide to trade Chone Figgins. His horrible offensive season could be somewhat attributed to the defensive switch he was forced to make in spring training (with no notice, by the way), but his attitude is certainly not what the M’s hoped it would be. Ironically, Figgins’ late season offensive “surge” seems to have been spurred by his dugout confrontation with then-manager Don Wakamatsu. It didn’t help his defense any, though. The M’s owe Figgins $26 MM over the next 3 years (according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts), and there are other teams who might want Figgins at that price (the Braves, Mets, Cardinals, Dodgers, Orioles and White Sox could all be destinations.)

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