When you look at the in-house free agents for the Seattle Mariners, the list of high-priority players is not terribly long. Most of the roster is still under team control, which means that the Mariners do not have a lot of players that can truly test the market.
Still, there are a few names that should be on Seattle’s mind. The Mariners should not necessarily break the bank to bring back their current roster, but an argument could be made for some reasonable financial packages.
This is a tough one right off the bat (no pun intended). Statistically, Ibanez had a great season for a 41 year old. The problem is that there aren’t a lot of productive players over 40 in the league. Ibanez will be 42 in June and his skills are not going to improve at this point.
Ibanez is a liability in the field and he had a career high in strikeouts (128) this year. Still, his leadership may continue to be valuable to a Mariners team that includes a lot of players who could benefit from his guidance. If Seattle can’t come up with more obvious solutions in the outfield, Ibanez may be worth another year at an affordable price.
The risk is that at any point Ibanez could experience a sharp drop in production. It might get a little awkward if the Mariners felt compelled to drop Ibanez in the middle of the year due to an obvious lack of hitting.
Would the Mariners like to have Oliver Perez back? Probably. Do they want to pay top dollar for a 32-year-old reliever? Not necessarily.
Perez has arguably resurrected his career as a situational reliever after a number of years as a fairly average starter. How long Perez can maintain this role is undetermined.
It should be noted that Perez was not great in July and August, but regained his composure and posted a 2.35 ERA in September. Perez may now fit the category of a cagey veteran, but he may not have a lot of effective years left.
The Mariners may want Perez back next season, but it seems unlikely that the team will get into a bidding war. If another team offered Perez a two or three-year deal for decent money, he would probably move on without a fight from Seattle management.
Finally, there is the issue of Kendrys Morales. Reportedly, the M’s already tried to bring back the switch-hitting first baseman/DH. Offer...denied.
Just because Morales rejected the qualifying offer does not mean that Seattle is out of the running for his services. However, it may take a more lucrative offer in order to lure Morales back to Seattle.
Morales will be 31 in June, which means that his bat speed may start to decline. Therefore, the Mariners have to be careful about overpaying for a multiyear deal. Morales had a very solid season (.277, 23 HR, 80 RBI), but he may never again see his .306 average from 2009.
The Mariners need players in the lineup that can hit for average. Fans get excited about power, but Seattle hit a lot of home runs in 2013. Needless to say, it didn’t lead to wins.
Morales may be a player that can be a legitimate bat for several years. Unfortunately for Seattle, Morales may get a better offer that the Mariners cannot match.
This is still baseball, and the playing field is not level.