Chandler cracks me up.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesStarter Felix Hernandez, signed through 2019, has Seattle's only long-term contract.
There are more than a few rising young executives -- and older executives, for that matter -- who are outside of the Seattle Mariners' organization and looking in, and they are wi****l, wishing they could grab the Mariners’ steering wheel.
First and foremost, they love the city, curled around Puget Sound, surrounded by fir trees and hemlocks; they see it as a great place to live. They love the ballpark, underrated and underappreciated. They see potential in the passion of a fan base that is dormant after more than a decade of struggles.
They see the Mariners as the great sleeping giant in baseball.
They see a possible financial powerhouse, given that the Mariners own their own television network.
They see a team saturated with prospects taken near the top of the draft. Some, like Dustin Ackley, haven’t played as well as expected, but from catcher Mike Zunino to third baseman Kyle Seager to shortstop Nick Franklin to outfielder Abraham Almonte to pitcher Taijuan Walker -- who is among the game’s best prospects -- they see talent.
The Mariners have become a place where veteran players don’t want to go, but rival executives see that changing in a hurry, perhaps because Seattle has enormous growth potential with its payroll -- monstrous growth potential -- or, if you will, potential to become a baseball monster.
Felix Hernandez is signed through 2019. And . . . that’s it. They have no other long-term obligations after 2014. None. They are like a start-up company with loads of cash and talent and no debt.
The Mariners have told other clubs and agents that they intend to sign a No. 2-type starting pitcher this winter. There are possibly four who fit that description: Masahiro Tanaka, Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. They have indicated they will sign a closer, whether it be Brian Wilson or Fernando Rodney. They want to sign two power hitters, and maybe that’ll turn out to be Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales.
Here’s the thing: If they wanted to, they could aim higher, rival executives say.
“They could be the team that goes after Robinson Cano,” one official said. “It might cost them $30 million [per year] to sign him” -- because the Mariners would have to overpay to land him -- “but they could do that. They could sign Jacoby Ellsbury. They could do both, easily, and make it fit.”
Oh, sure, signing Cano and Ellsbury would take the Mariners’ payroll into the range of $120 million to $140 million two or three years down the road, but given the growth of the sport, a payroll of $120 million is no longer outsized; that’s middle to upper-middle class.
Cano and/or Ellsbury could be greatly overpriced for the Mariners (and perhaps impossible; it may be that Cano would never leave New York to play for Seattle). But that would be the cost of jump-starting this franchise, and I’d rather overpay one or both of them than to pay inflated market prices on second- and third-tier players, because Cano and Ellsbury are elite, and for the Mariners, they would be game-changers. This brings to mind the thought process once explained by longtime Dodgers GM Buzzie Bavasi: You would rather overpay a great player than give one nickel more than you have to to a player who can’t be great.
Imagine if Seattle opened 2014 with this lineup:
SS Brad Miller
DH Raul Ibanez
1B Justin Smoak
RF Michael Saunders
LF Abraham Almonte
P Felix Hernandez
To repeat: We don’t even know if Cano would seriously think about leaving the Yankees and ditching his building legacy there to play for more money in Seattle. We don’t know if, when push comes to shove, Ellsbury would rather take $100 million to stay in Boston, where he has shared in two championships, than to take $140 million from Seattle.
But the Mariners could try. They could court Cano and Ellsbury together the way the Heat did with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh -- to make it clear that neither would be alone, and that they could be the start of something great together.
There’s a lot that’s gone wrong with the Mariners. But there’s one thing that many drooling rival executives love about them: You look at how they’re set up, you look at the talent, you look at the financial structure and the network and the ballpark, and you can dream big.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
One journo also called us "desperate" and willing to overpay for bats, cuz let's face it... no one wants to play for us.
Such a depressing reality
Pending a physical...
There's our utility-guy.
I'm good... keeping our expectations in-check.
They're all probably just using us as leverage for better deals from other teams.