By Blaidd Drwg
I keep hearing that the Mariners are going to be a major player in the FA market this season. Here is where I think the Mariners have some major holes to fill to bring them to an 82-85 win team:
RF and LF (assuming that Dustin Ackley is their CF)
1B or DH (depending on where you play Smoak)
C (you need someone who can play almost every day in case Zunino proves 2013 was not a fluke)
SP (at least one back of the rotation guy)
RP (the bullpen needs help – too many guys imploded last year)
If you want to talk about being a playoff contender, they probably need to replace Smoak with someone better and they probably need 2 middle of the rotation guys in addition to 2 OF, a catcher and some bullpen help. I personally think they need to do more than that and that would be a ton of spending, so it isn’t going to happen.
I write this because of the flurry of activity that has occurred over the last week. The A’s have made trades to bolster their team and so have the Rangers. The Yankees have signed the best catcher and OF on the market and appear to still be in the running for Cano. The Tigers are making themselves better through trades and signings. The Mariners? Well, they did sign Willie Bloomquist. Are you excited yet?
I keep hearing the Mariners are the front runners for Robinson Cano. He tried to play chicken with the Yankees and the Yankees wouldn’t budge, so his agent, Jay-Z, decided to pull a Scott Boras move and get a bidding war for Cano’s services going, hence the Mariners involvement. The M’s are a team with just 2 players under contract (Iwakuma and Felix) and a bunch of guys who are arbitration eligible/under team control. If the M’s don’t go out and spend any money on FA’s this season, their payroll will be in the 45-50 million dollar range. Based on that, the M’s could afford to overpay Cano in the 25-27 million dollar range just to get him to sign.
With the M’s offer, Jay-Z goes back to the Yankees and says, “See, there is a team willing to pay my client 27 million per for 8 years, but he really wants to stay in NY. If you do 25 million per for 7 years with an option, we can call be happy.” Unless the Rangers step in, I would put money on Cano signing for 7 years/175 million with the Yankees.
There are a couple of reasons why signing Cano makes no sense, especially for 8 years:
- You have now committed 50+ million dollars on 2 players through 2019. That is a ton of payroll on two guys considering one is a pitcher and the other will be in his late 30’s.
- Signing Cano to that contract would basically mean he is untradeable. You now have to hope that his batting numbers don’t fall into a black hole in Safeco, or that he becomes unhappy if the team is not competitive.
- You have no place to play him. I don’t think you can put him at DH, so that means you have to find a new position for Nick Franklin, unless you put Cano at 1B and move Smoak to DH.
- Your team is going to get really expensive over the next 3 seasons. All of the guys under team control will get bumps due to arbitration and the arbitration eligible guys will get huge bumps from free agency. As deep as the M’s farm system is, it can’t replace the entire roster, so you are probably looking at adding 40-50 million to your payroll in the next few seasons, assuming that you keep all of the important guys.
- You are going to have to sign or replace Iwakuma. He is on the last year of his contract in 2014 and you are probably going to be paying him in the 15-17 million per range unless he implodes this season. The M’s hold an option on him for 2015, but I expect that the contract will get extended sometime this season and void the team option.
- When was the last time a mega deal free agent worked out for the team that signed him?
Cano makes sense if you are close to being a perennial contender. The Mariners are not. I suspect what happens in the next few months is the M’s sign Nelson Cruz, resign Kendrys Morales, a couple of replacement level guys for the bench , a scrap heap starter and a couple of fungible relief guys and plod their way to another 77-81 win season, hoping that all of the kids become superstars.
And folks wonder why I gave up my season tickets.