It hasn't been an offseason full of headlines and superstar names for the Seattle Mariners, but the fairly quiet winter has been a success.
Jack Zduriencik was unable to reel in big names on the market such as Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton or Zack Greinke, but the additions of Raúl Ibañez and Kendrys Morales are bigger victories than they seem. The two veteran left-handed hitters will add experience, depth and offense to the lineup this season.
The 2012 offseason roster adjustments will help the Mariners contend in the A.L. West in 2013.
While general manager Jack Zduriencik had more financial flexibility this offseason than he has had in years, he didn't sign any players to nine-figure contracts. The winners in the Hamilton, Upton and Greinke sweepstakes were bound to overspend, but the M's wisely didn't overcommit to any one player.
Pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma was signed for $14 million over two years, the most any free agent received from Seattle this winter.
There's still time for Zduriencik to sign a mega star to a mega contract, but the goal to stay within budgets and compile the best team possible remains the philosophy in Seattle.
When Jason Vargas was traded to the Angels for Kendrys Morales, Seattle lost their most reliable and consistent pitcher other than King Félix.
The re-signings of Iwakuma and Oliver Pérez keep the pitching staff in check, but they don't make up for the loss of Vargas.
The Mariners also signed pitcher Jeremy Bonderman, but it's unlikely he'll make the team out of spring training.
It would have been nice to see the M's sign a veteran starter or even acquire some bullpen help, but at this point the only additions to the staff will likely come in the form of prospects making the squad after the spring.
As I mentioned earlier, the additions of Ibañez and Morales are vital to the Mariners offensively. The club's biggest need this offseason was clearly offense, and Seattle now has two veteran, proven hitters.
Ibañez is a fan favorite in Seattle and slugged 19 homers last year at age 40. He showed he can still produce runs and will definitely platoon at DH and maybe a little left field as well.
Morales is a proven slugger and also hits for average. He'll likely start at first base and hit third or fourth in the lineup, a huge spark to an offense that's been painfully sputtering over the last few seasons. He wasn't a big name with superstar value, nor was his name bounced around in trade rumors, but the addition of Morales was the most important one this offseason.
It happens all too often. A struggling team looking to improve for the "now" will trade away half their farm system for one superstar player.
Thus far, Seattle has gotten through the offseason without parting ways with any prospects, let alone their most talented and promising.
While the Mariners are definitely in a win-now state of mind, it's vital to hang onto prospects. They'll be huge in the future and might be able to help out a lot sooner than anyone thinks . Seattle could have sent away Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and Nick Franklin for Giancarlo Stanton, but that's a lot of eggs to throw into one basket.
I'm fully on board with keeping top prospects around after seeing so many former Mariner farm system players flourish elsewhere.