The Mariners are still dead-set on trying to contend in 2018, CEO John Stanton tells Larry Stone of the Seattle Times. While the club didn’t ride a wave of “magic” to the postseason this year, as Stanton said he expected, the team is still committed to expanding and relying upon its existing core.
Stanton, who has been running the organization since its sale was finalized last August, is obviously on board with the approach of GM Jerry Dipoto. The org’s top baseball decisionmaker recently chatted about things from his own perspective, emphasizing the strides the team has made in sustainability, even if it has yet to get over the hump and crack the postseason.
Notably, though, Seattle’s payroll does have some “room for growth,” according to Stanton. The M’s opened at $154MM this year and already have around $113MM committed for 2018 (including a pair of buyouts) with just under $30MM in potential arb payouts still to go.
While Dipoto said he did not expect many fireworks over the winter, it seems there’s at least a little space for some additions. What the team likely won’t do, however, is go wild for a major free agent.
Though Stanton says he likes the prior additions of Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, that’s not how he prefers to build a roster. “Bluntly, I’d like to see us be strong in the playoffs for a decade,” said Stanton, “and I think we need to have the payroll dollars spent on players that can be with us for a long period of time.”
Rather, any big contracts in the future could go to younger players that earn extensions, Stanton suggests. He cites the Jean Segura and Kyle Seager deals as models for the team to pursue in the future. Rather than bringing in such players once they have reached or perhaps moved past their prime, he’d rather make large but still more manageable commitments to players that have shown merit earlier in their careers.
Of course, that’s more or less the ideal for any organization. For the M’s, the question remains whether enough of the team’s recent acquisitions — both in terms of younger amateur talent and recent trades — will fully establish themselves as core pieces. If so, it’s possible to imagine this club taking further strides and eventually even challenging the ascendant Astros. But that’s far from a given.