It's never a dull offseason with Jack Zduriencik as GM, but this year figures to be the best yet. It had better be, because next season's trajectory will have profound ramifications for the future. If Zduriencik hits, the Mariners could contend for a pennant by 2013. If he fails, Seattle could be rebooting yet another five-year plan.
Perhaps the most palpable issue is that next season will likely determine what the Mariners will do about Felix Hernandez. Another last-place or bottom-half finish may result in the ace being dealt out of town. Although Felix may genuinely want to stay, much can change in three seasons—especially if the M's are still bottom dwelling. Most likely the choice will be taken out of his hands. If the M's wait any longer after next season to decide, they risk not receiving maximum value for Hernandez—probably the most coveted asset in all of baseball.
The stakes are high. And Zduriencik likely has to show marked (by wins and losses) improvement to keep his job.
What transpires this offseason will dramatically impact the M's future fortunes. Zduriencik needs to pull another rabbit out of his hat, as the M's prepare for one of their most important seasons since 1995.