The Mariners are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series. Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:
Eligible For Free Agency (7)
- Relievers Chris Ray and Jamey Wright will be eligible for free agency after the season, though at the rate he's been going Ray might not get to six years service time. Wright has been effective as a setup man in a very small sample this year, and if his success continues perhaps the team will re-sign him affordably.
- Well-paid veterans Milton Bradley and Jack Wilson don't figure to be back in 2012. They also seem like long shots to accumulate trade value.
- Erik Bedard is at least healthy and striking people out at the moment, but he's been knocked around badly. If he shows signs of his former self and remains healthy into July, he'll probably be traded.
- Adam Kennedy and Ryan Langerhans will also be eligible for free agency.
Contract Options: None
Arbitration Eligible (7)
- First time: Aaron Laffey, Shawn Kelley
- Second time: Jason Vargas
- Third time: David Aardsma, Jack Cust, Luis Rodriguez
- Fourth time: Brandon League
Standard disclaimer: not all of these players will rack up the necessary service time or make it to the point of being tendered contracts. Vargas and League could jump past $4MM, while Aardsma should pass $6MM. Cust seems in line for his annual non-tender. The pitchers in this group would make for decent trade bait, but if the Mariners have an eye on contending in 2012 they might prefer to keep a few around. Assuming the key arbitration eligibles stay I'll peg the group for around $15MM.
2012 Payroll Obligation
The Mariners' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $59.513MM. If the major arbitration eligibles are retained the team could be around $75MM, roughly $20MM short of their '11 payroll. The club's payroll situation is tough to project, though, because we don't know who will be traded or whether they're planning a serious contention push for '12.