After the markets best slugger was plucked off the table when the New York Mets signed Jason Bay to a five year contract, teams are now going to have to dive into the second tier of bats, (excluding Matt Holliday, whom I fully expect to re-up long term with the Cardinals), to fill their needs.
All of these hitters represent the second wave of free agency; Jack Cust, Jermaine Dye, Johnny Damon, Jonny Gomes, Vladimir Guerrerro, and Aubrey Huff.
Still, most of these guys would be welcome additions to any lineup and the Seattle Mariners sure could use more then one of the aforementioned names in their lineup after an anemic and offensive 2009 season at the plate.
With Bay gone, a name long rumored to Seattle this offseason, the best option for the Mariners to continue rebuilding a woeful offense is 1B Adam LaRoche.
Playing the majority of his career on some pretty bad Pittsburgh teams in a pitcher friendly PNC Park, LaRoche averaged 26 HR's and 91 RBI's.
When he was traded to the Atlanta Braves, he showed he can produce more with talent around him. In 30 less games (55) he posted the same HR and RBI total with the Braves (12, 40), then the 85 games he played with the Pirates in 2009.
He has a good OBP lifetime at .343, his SO total is a little high at 143, but it's not nearly as bloated a figure as say, Jack Cust at 196.
The Mariners still need a 1B and a DH, the ideal situation would be to sign LaRoche to a four year deal to play 1B and re-sign Branyan to be their DH.
With the Mariners turning deadweight on the roster into something productive by swapping Carlos Silva for Milton Bradley, the Mariners can choose to use him however they please.
Being able to interchange Bradley and LaRoche at DH would be valuable to this team, giving Branyan some days off would likely enable him to play the whole season and not shut down again towards the end again.
With the amount of money the Mariners have, and the still crying need for bats, I feel the ideal situation would be to lock up Adam LaRoche, and sign Johnny Damon to play left field.
LaRoche would likely cost around four years at $30 million, Damon is certainly not going to make his $13 million figure from last season. A more plausible deal would be in the three year, $22 million range.
Branyan is probably going to land a one year incentive laden deal because of his injury concerns in the $4-5 millon range.
The trio would cost around $20 million, leaving the Mariners additional space from their $27 million dollar salary surplus from the massive Bavasi contracts coming off the books. The importance in adding Damon is that it would allow the Mariners to always have a productive bat ready to come off the bench, whether it be Damon, Bradley, Branyan, or LaRoche, in any given context.
that $7 million would likely go to acquiring a mid-rotation arm. After breaking even from last seasons payroll, the "actual" spending will begin by trying to lock up King Felix and woo ace Cliff Lee into a long term deal.
The most ideal pitcher I see on the market for the Mariners is Ben Sheets. He is a former ace who has some injury problems. One year removed from a 13-9/3.09 ERA season, he could very well give the Mariners a top of the rotation arm at a discount to go behind their dynamic duo.
If Sheets doesn't pan out with Jason Marquis gone, the other most ideal scenarios would be for the Mariners to bring back either Erik Bedard or Jarrod Washburn.
Bedard represents the same risk/reward as Sheets does, and Washburn experienced a resurgence under a new coaching regime, while thriving in Safeco field with the leagues best defense.
As the options begin to dwindle we will certainly be seeing Zdureincik making a move for a power bat or two, and more then likely their name is going to come off of the list above.