The Mariners are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:
Eligible For Free Agency (5)
- Ichiro Suzuki - Sentimentality only goes so far, as the Mariners know from Ken Griffey Jr.'s return to Seattle. Yet it's hard to imagine Ichiro in another team's uniform and he appears to prefer Seattle to other potential suitors. He won't be earning $17MM per season, no matter where he plays.
- Brandon League - Nothing screams 'trade candidate' like established relievers nearing free agency on non-contenders. It won't be surprising if the Mariners trade League this summer. Hopefully for Seattle, potential suitors aren't put off by the right-hander's declining peripherals.
- Hisashi Iwakuma - Manager Eric Wedge hasn't used Iwakuma much (four appearances in the team's first 43 games). That in itself could be an indication that he's not part of the Mariners' long-term plans.
- George Sherrill - The left-hander will miss the remainder of the season to recover from Tommy John surgery.
- Kevin Millwood - GM Jack Zduriencik did well to add Millwood to the rotation on a low-risk deal. The right-hander figures to sign another short-term, low-risk contract this coming offseason whether he's back in Seattle or pitching elsewhere.
- Munenori Kawasaki - The infielder has the right to elect free agency for the purposes of going back to Japan but not to explore other opportunities in MLB.
Contract Options (1)
- Miguel Olivo: $3MM club option. If at the end of the season the Mariners don't believe Jesus Montero is a future catcher, there could be a role for Olivo on next year's team. He has his shortcomings on offense and on defense, but he hits lefties, which makes him a suitable complement to the left-handed hitting John Jaso.
Arbitration Eligible (4)
This relatively small arbitration class doesn't figure to generate many headlines, but Vargas could be an exception. He's building a case for another substantial raise via arbitration and it's hard not to wonder if the Mariners might cash in on him soon, while his salary's just $4.85MM, and obtain a couple of controllable players in a trade. Contenders will be looking for pitching help before long and Vargas' durability should generate interest.
2013 Payroll Obligation
The Mariners have committed $40MM to next year's team, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. Ownership has been lowering payroll in recent years, and the 2012 team will cost approximately $85MM. GM Jack Zduriencik should have financial flexibility this coming offseason when he looks to round out his pitching staff and add some offense.