With $41 million to go to break even after the signing of All Star 3B Chone Figgins was made official, the Mariners are literally tied to every top Free Agent in some capacity.
The list is long. The Internet churns out a vast number of rumors.
We all know the usual suspects, All Star Red Sox slugger Jason Bay, Mariner killer John Lackey, the arch rival Angels ace, on-base wizard 1B Nick Johnson, World Series MVP Hideki Matsui, former Mariner killer Rich Harden, All Star 2B Orlando Hudson, etc.
Despite the fact the Mariners could actually sign all of the above free agents, and keep a sane budget, there are some in the Mariners' community who seem afraid to see the plausibility of adding a much needed power bat like Jason Bay.
I probably would not advocate it either unless we were entering the off-season with what is seemingly complete control and influence over where the dominoes can potentially fall.
With the biggest budget, and a screaming need, this team can easily afford the multiple power bats they need. If they were to even, say, sign Jason Bay and Hideki Matsui, the offense would be floating just above mediocrity; this offense was rock bottom in 2009, last in runs scored in the AL—it would take two proven power bats just to make opposing pitchers quit licking their chops when we pop up on the schedule.
With a hole in Left Field, and the specific need for a Left Fielder with power potential, here are the potential alternatives to the costly Bay (ironic, he's expensive, and Seattle's wretchedly expensive to live in as well).
I forgot, the Free Agent crop is incredibly thin after all of those All-Stars the Mariners could seemingly afford with no detriment to their budget and no one who can actually outbid them.
One name stands out though, and honestly, locking him up if we lost out on Bay would probably make Mariners fans rejoice.
As the title hints, that name is former Mariner and recently cut Brewers OF Mike Cameron.
For anyone that argues the Mariners need to focus strictly on defense before offense (which results in a pathetic offense that can't score more then 3 runs on a consistent basis), Cameron is still widely regarded as one of the top defensive center fielders in the game.
For anyone that argues the Mariners need to focus on the offensive impact of their signings, like myself, Cameron fits the bill there as well. His seasonal averages amount to a .250 batting average, 23 HRs, and 82 RBI.
If you check out his stat sheet, aside from one injury riddled season with the Mets in 2005 (which if you double his 76 games his stats would be 24 HR's, and 78 RBI's), his stat line is consistent dating all the way back to his first year with the Mariners in 2000.
You know exactly what you are getting with Cammy, a terrific fielder with roughly three productive seasons left. A guy who strikes out a lot (averages 159), who will hit you 25 HRs, give you 80 RBI, and will get on base at least 32 percent of the time.
Having had multiple conversations with the man, I know first hand he is as terrific of a clubhouse presence as is documented by the teams he has played for.
One of the best defensive center fielders in the game covering less ground in left field with arguably the league's top defensive center fielder playing next to him...check
Twenty-two more HRs than the combined left fielders produced in 2009...check
Three times the RBI production of the raw Michael Saunders with the AB difference taken into account...check
Seeing the key to Griffey's 1999 departure alongside him in Mariners blue?