As General Manager Jack Z enters his third season with the Mariners, fans are hoping to see whatever plan he has developed to take the next step.
Most fans and sports announcers alike interpret the next step to be the signing of a big name free agent like Prince Fielder.
This seems to be more of an urgent need as the AL West Rivals signed their own power bat in Albert Pujouls. There is no question that picking up Prince would be a welcome addition to the Mariners line up.
Where the question lies is if the Mariners can afford to pay Prince what his agent wants for him.
The opening day roster for the Mariners was valued at $84,865,600 which was 18th in the league. Since that time the Mariners dropped Milton Bradley, David Aardsma, Jack Cust, Adam Kennedy, Aaron Laffey, Chis Ray and Louis Rodriguez which frees up around 21 Million in payroll.
That would be around what the asking price is speculated for Prince, but Felix Hernandez, Miguel Olivo, Franklin Gutierez and Brendan Ryan are all set to take significant raises plus the salary increases offered to the players in arbitration conservatively will total about 16 Million when it is all said and done.
This leaves the M’s with about 5 million to play with if they were expecting to be about the same level for payroll this next season.
5 Million is not going to get a high end free agent. Heck in this league it may not get you more than a box of bats. After all, the Yankees spent almost 200 Million last year.
Who wants to come play with Seattle when they could be making big bucks on the east coast?
Here are the options the Mariners have…
1. Increase the payroll
This would require that the ownership gives Jack Z more to work with. I don’t think that 100 Million would be outside the realm of possibility, this could get the M’s to be floating around an extra 20 Million mark. Of course they can’t just get Prince.
The team has expressed interest in more starters, veteran bullpen presence, a back up shortstop and the possibility of adding to an already full competition in the outfield and at 3rd base.
2. Trade Felix
Felix is the face of the franchise and no one wants to see him go, however if Jack cant get the money he needs to compete with the Angels who will be sitting at a payroll of 180 million, he could be forced to move a big piece to free up funds.
This could get him a major league ready bat and several pitchers that could make up for the loss of their ace.
However, this is not likely
3. Recruit leadership
Instead of going after a solo bat, the M’s could be looking just to continue with the development of their youth movement by bringing in a few player/coach types that could bring some much needed experience to the club.
These moves aren’t sexy though and could drive more fans away from the ball park this summer.
Although if the team wins more people will come if Prince is there or not.
Remember that money doesn’t mean you can buy wins. The Tampa Bay Rays 2011 Opening Day Roster was valued at 29th in the league at 41,932,171. Less than half that of the M’s. And Tampa made it to the playoffs.
This shouldn’t make sense, yet it happened.
Wins are not tied to money, although it helps.