Have the Seattle Mariners’ hot stove gone cold?

Are the M’s broke thanks to Cano?

After an early, red hot start to the baseball offseason, the Seattle Mariners have certainly closed the dampers on the fire as of late.  There has been next to nothing in the rumor pile from “unnamed sources” since Robinson Cano signed his jackpot 10 year, $240 million deal.

Are the M’s out of cash?

Mathematically speaking, no, the Mariners certainly aren’t out of cash to sign more free agents.  The willingness to do so, however, could be another story.

As the hot stove season got underway, the M’s had only committed about $47 million to players for the 2014 season by my educated assessment. They have since added Robinson Cano for $24 million, Corey Hart for $6 million,and Logan Morrison, who is arbitration eligible.  He was traded for Carter Capps.  The difference between the salaries of Morrison and Capps are negligible so I consider that a wash, salary-wise.

Did Robinson Cano use up all of Seattle's cash? (Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP)

Did Robinson Cano use up all of Seattle’s cash? (Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP)

So, add $30 million to the $47 million and you find that the M’s are at $77 million in player salary commitments for the 2013 season.  Last year, for comparison, the M’s spent $74 million on players.

That is an increase from 2013 to 2014, albeit a very small one, and I find it extremely difficult to believe that the M’s are done spending at this point.  To add Cano and call it good would be foolish, and it would wind up being a disaster for GM Jack Zduriencik, who is in the final year of his contract.

You have to consider that the M’s have an extremely lucrative local TV deal.  Additionally, each team is going to be making roughly $25 million more than they did last year on some new national TV deals.  Those things alone say the Mariners will go more than 3 mill above last years numbers.

Another thing that comes to mind is this: Felix Hernandez and Cano currently account for nearly two thirds of the entire current player salaries of the team.  That is simply too unbalanced to leave that way, especially when the M’s still have very clear needs.

So what’s the hold up?

Pitching is the biggest need.  The M’s need at least 1 starter, and probably at least 2 new arms in the bullpen.  Yes, it’s possible these could all be addressed by trade, but I don’t think that’s the issue.

The Mariners were getting serious with free-agent starter Ervin Santana just about the same time MLB and the Japanese Nippon Professional Baseball League announced the new posting rules.  The new maximum posting bid is $20 million dollars and the Rakuten Golden Eagles are now thinking twice about posting phenom starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka for a mere $20 million.  Bidding could have easily topped $60 million for Tanaka had this rule not been changed at the last moment.

That  single rule change has dragged the free agency pitching market into an absolute stand still.  All the players’ agents are now waiting with bated breath to see if Tanaka gets posted or not.  The reason to wait is simple.

If Tanaka stays in Japan, it drives the price up for guys like Santana and Matt Garza, and they don’t want to sign until they know, one way or the other, what Rakuten  is going to do with Tanaka.

Of course, now it’s the holidays too.  I don’t think we get an answer on any free agent pitchers until the new year and we won’t get an answer on Tanaka from Rakuten until they decide what they want to do.

My hunch is that Rakuten will still cave, take their $20 million and post Tanaka.  To not do so could cost them dearly if he were to stay in Japan and get hurt in another season there, and because they know that’s the most they can get for the next 3 years, I think they’ll take it.

Once that Tanaka dam bursts though, the pitchers will be flying off the shelves, and I think the M’s will wind up writing at least 1 more big check before pitchers and catchers report in February.

Stay tuned!


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About Brian Scott

Husband, Philosopher, Animal Rights Advocate, and Author Brian is a Spokane native and Gonzaga University grad. Seahawks, Mariners, GU Hoops and Cougar football are the teams that drive his passion for sports. You can catch him on twitter too! Connect with Brian today!
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