Next up in our amateur signing bonus series, the Mariners…
- Dustin Ackley, $6MM (2009)
- Jeff Clement, $3.4MM (2005)
- Brandon Morrow, $2.45MM (2006)
- Matt Tuiasosopo, $2.29MM (2004)
- Philips Castillo, $2.2MM (2010)
The Mariners have long been a powerhouse when it comes to signing international free agents, but their four largest signing bonuses were given to drafted players. Ackley, the second overall pick last year, hit .267/.368/.407 in 587 plate appearances in 2010, his first professional season. He's also in the process of learning a new position (second base) after playing the outfield and first base at UNC.
Clement was the third overall pick in a top heavy 2005 draft, but that tends to happen when a catcher hits 46 homers in his three-year college career. He reached Triple-A in 2006 and the big leagues a year later, but he flunked a 224 plate appearance audition as the team's regular catcher in the second half of 2008. The Mariners traded Clement and four others to the Pirates for Jack Wilson and Ian Snell before the 2009 trade deadline. He was a .237/.309/.393 hitter in 243 plate appearances for Seattle.
Morrow was one of several power-armed college pitchers in the 2006 draft, going fifth overall. He threw just 16 minor league innings after signing (2.25 ERA, 9.6 K/9, 5.1 BB/9) then broke camp with the team as a reliever in 2007. Morrow pitched to a 4.12 ERA in 63.1 relief innings as a rookie, then tossed up a 3.34 ERA in 40 relief appearances and five starts the next year. It seemed like the Mariners were changing his role every other month, at least until they traded him to the Blue Jays for Brandon League and a minor leaguer last December. All told, Morrow threw 197.2 innings with a 3.96 ERA and 9.3 K/9 for the Mariners (116 relief appearances, 15 starts).
Seattle gave Tuiasosopo a huge bonus as the 93rd overall pick in 2004 (third round), buying him away from a football scholarship to the University of Washington. His brother Marques and father Manu both played in the NFL. Tuiasosopo never lived up to the bonus, hitting just .270/.363/.407 in close to 2,700 minor league plate appearances, though he has had several stints in the big leagues. He's a career .176/.234/.306 hitter in 210 major league plate appearances spread across three seasons.
Castillo signed earlier this summer out of the Dominican Republic. The 16-year-old corner outfielder will begin his professional career next season.
Seattle paid a $13.125MM posting fee for the rights to negotiate with Ichiro Suzuki before the 2001 season, and they then signed him to a three-year, $14.088MM contract that included a $5MM signing bonus. He was far from an amateur though, at least when it comes to his experience level. Felix Hernandez, meanwhile, signed for $710K out of Venezuela in 2002, reportedly turning down larger offers from the Braves and Yankees.