On December 3rd, new Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik made his first free agent signing: Russell Branyan on a one-year, $1.4MM deal with $350K in incentives. Zduriencik said at the time he was prepared to "give Russell as many at-bats as he's had in his career." That held true, as Branyan racked up 505 plate appearances in 2009. The playing time led to a .251/.347/.520 line with a career-best 31 home runs. However, perhaps due to a back injury, Branyan was only productive for the season's first three months.
Based on comments made by Zduriencik and Branyan, interest in a new contract is mutual. Branyan turns 34 in December, and his rough finish to the season should lead to another one-year deal (perhaps with a club option for 2011). The Mariners have money to spend, though Mike Carp is lurking after hitting .271/.372/.446 at Triple A. Since the Ms have a DH vacancy as well, they could easily fit in both players if Carp shows he can hit big league pitching.
The stars are aligned for Branyan to re-sign with the Mariners. What would constitute a fair offer? FanGraphs valued Branyan's performance at $12.5MM this year, and the free agent market typically overvalues power. Branyan can point out that among free agents, only Jason Bay hit more home runs.