The hitting difficulties of the Seattle Mariners have been well documented. As the team heads into the offseason, there will be the usual questions about potential free agents.
Of course, the issue is not necessarily about free agents. The issue is whether or not Seattle is willing to get out the checkbook and write a lot of zeros.
At least one writer believes that Seattle could be a “dark horse” in the free agent market. I don’t buy it. Even the writer wrote the sentence, “This is a team with a lot of payroll flexibility if it's willing to spend.”
If it’s willing to spend. Exactly.
Granted, I do not see a lot of free agents that are all that intriguing for a Seattle team that is trying to build a squad from the ground up.
The big names on the market are either too old, too inconsistent, or potentially too expense.
There is an extensive list of potential hitters, but this free agent class is still regarded as fairly weak compared to past years.
A few names are being discussed, and I suspect the Mariners are brought up only because they have so many needs.
Josh Hamilton may decline the one-year offer from the Texas Rangers, but if he tests the market, there are questions about age, productivity and behavioral history. Hamilton is not a long-term solution.
Nick Swisher? There is some consistent power, but Swisher will be 32 by next spring. Is he worth a multi-year deal when an inevitable decline is coming?
Someone like B.J. Upton keeps appearing on various lists, but the addition of a career .255 hitter does not seem like a smart strategy. Upton is younger, but he is not exactly a consistent power threat.
Torii Hunter? Old. You bring him in if he is the last piece of a championship-caliber club.
Angel Pagan? Low on power, high on potential price.
Ryan Ludwick? Best year was four seasons ago.
I realize that I am focusing more on the reasons not to sign available free agents, but a savvy team has to look for red flags before they overpay new players.
This is not a time for desperate moves.
Some of these players are not going to be cheap, particular if the Mariners are going to convince them to come to the Pacific Northwest.
It is interesting that this list predicted that none of the “top 50” free agents would end up in Seattle. That may be the usual disrespect for the Mariners, but Seattle has not exactly been a big player in the free agent market over the last few seasons.
There is the theory that Seattle will be a player simply because it has money to spend. That is certainly plausible, but given the philosophy over the last few seasons, it does not seem likely that management would throw money at just anyone.
You want the Mariners to be active, but you also want them to be smart. Chone Figgins, anyone?
A trade still seems like the best way to improve this lineup rather than overspend in this market. Let one of the hot young arms go and get yourself a bat.
Will the Mariners be unusually active and chase free agents? We shall see. I am not going to hold my breath.
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