Players leaving teams for new ones is a regular occurrence in MLB—it's part of the job description. Sometimes players leaving is for the better, and sometimes it's unexpected and to the dismay of loyal fans. Much of it has to do with team needs, but contracts and money are just as big of factors.
Before I go into players who likely won't return to the Seattle Mariners next season, let's look at the possibility of a new skipper righting the ship.
Eric Wedge is in the final year of his contract and is on pace for a third straight losing season. The 75 wins last year were an improvement over 67 in 2011, but the upgraded roster this season was supposed to bring even more wins to Seattle.
Granted, there have been major injuries to key players (Michael Morse, Franklin Gutierrez), and the lack of a starting catcher hasn't helped either. We've seen a couple stretches of great baseball and even an eight-game winning streak. But at the end of the day, the Mariners are a mediocre team with more power than in years past, but they have downgraded pitching.
While the roster changes are out of Wedge's control, the added bats combined with smaller Safeco Field dimensions were supposed to boost an offense that's been one of the league's worst for half a decade. The home runs totals have gone up, but the M's still aren't scoring many runs. And when they do, the pitching falters.
Wedge's lack of improvement record-wise coupled with recent health issues may open the door for a new manager to take over the Mariners next season.
Now, here are some Seattle players who likely won't return next season.
I sincerely hope the Mariners bring Kendrys Morales back. He's having a great season (.292/.345/.473, 17 HR, 64 RBI) and what's more, he's been extremely consistent. Unfortunately for the Mariners, those attributes will cause other teams to offer Morales high-end contracts come this offseason when his deal expires.
There's still a chance Morales gets moved before the end of this season. The Mariners didn't make any moves before the trade deadline, and the window of opportunity to make a playoff run is closing quickly, making Kendrys an attractive option for contending teams.
The acquisition of Aaron Harang was always a bit of a mystery to me. I understand the concept: Bring in a veteran starter to bolster the back end of the rotation and mentor young up-and-comers.
Unfortunately, the aging Harang has done something to the rotation (not bolstered it). Harang is 5-10 through 19 starts with a career-worst 5.79 ERA, which could be attributed to the new Safeco or the fact that Harang is playing for an American League team for the first time since 2003.
His contract expires following the end of the season, and the 10-year veteran doesn't fit into Seattle's plans. Harang will get signed, that I'm sure of. But it won't be by the Mariners.
Poor Franklin Gutierrez. I've sad it once, and I'll say it again: He is the most unlucky baseball player there is—and also one of the most talented.
With an expiring contract and never-ending injuries, the Mariners have to give up on Guti at some point. He's played in fewer and fewer games each season since he arrived with the club in 2009, which is unfortunate and untimely considering those injuries caused him to miss most of his prime playing years.
The debate is whether or not Gutierrez's potential and talent are worth the money and the risk of injury. At this point, the answer is no for the Mariners.
It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times.
Shortstop Brendan Ryan dazzled fans with exceptional plays at short, but he boggled them with struggles at the plate, officially making him one of the most frustrating players to watch and root for.
And you have to feel for him. With a decent average, he'd be an All-Star and mentioned with the elite all-around shortstops. Unfortunately, his batting numbers are at an all-time low this season (.189/.253/.259), earning him a spot on the bench while he watches rookie shortstop Brad Miller flourish.
Still, his superior glove will draw the interest of teams this offseason and perhaps during the waning months of this season as well. A great defensive shortstop is hard to come by and extremely valuable in the postseason.