Apparently, the Seattle Mariners have some money to spend in the offseason. Somehow, I expect that the team wallet could remain closed.
It isn’t as if the Mariners do not want to improve. I just do not expect them to pursue a major free agent, let alone sign one. The fact that they need to upgrade the lineup is well known. However, there may be a plan that is not specifically shared with the public.
If Jack Zduriencik has no intention of going after a marquee free agent, do you think he is going to make that known? There is the standard answer to questions, but you never know whether that is a negotiating tactic. The Mariners are not a big-market team. Still, they carry enough payroll that the fan base will always expect management to “explore” the free-agent market.
Frankly, I don’t buy it.
I think that the plan all along has been to grow a team of youngsters, and hope that they mature at around the same time. Wait for Seager, Ackley, Smoak, Franklin, Zunino and Montero to develop into quality hitters. Wait for Walker, Hultzen and Paxton to join King Felix and form a devastating rotation.
On paper, the plan sounds good.
Unfortunately, the plan has unfolded at a painfully slow pace. If this is the plan, and the Mariners stick to it, the team may not be competitive until 2014 at the earliest. That is assuming that the lineup can raise its average from .234 to .280 in two years. That is also assuming that the “hot” prospect pitchers actually make the transition to the big club.
Something tells me that Jack Z has not been given the green light to write some big checks. All signs point to the Mariners remaining patient with their youngsters and avoiding expensive free agents. According to The News Tribune, Jack had recently told MLB.com “that he anticipates that the payroll will not go down, and he will likely have more money available this offseason.”
Forgive me, but that does not sound like a plan to spend aggressively.
That sounds like Jack will be allowed to bring back the likes of Hisashi Iwakuma. Not a bad signing, but not exactly a splash.
Sure, they might sign a player or two or make a trade. However, I do not see them taking on the Justin Upton contract. I do not see them bringing in a Josh Hamilton.
To be fair, this is a weak free-agent class. There are a lot of red flags and a good deal of baggage. Even hitting-starved fans are a bit leery about this group of free agents.
Steve Kelley of The Seattle Times was right when he wrote that fans deserve a free agent like Hamilton.
A lot of people deserve things. Unfortunately, life is not fair.
A marquee free agent may not be coming to Seattle next season.