Kyle Seager's $20M Contract Option for 2022 Season Declined by Mariners

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVNovember 3, 2021

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 01: Kyle Seager #15 of the Seattle Mariners looks on during the game against the Los Angeles Angels at T-Mobile Park on October 01, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Seattle Mariners declined Kyle Seager's $20 million club option for the 2022 season on Wednesday.

Seager has spent his entire MLB career in Seattle, and his 1,480 appearances are fourth-most in franchise history. His contributions didn't stop former Mariners president Kevin Mather from basically pushing him out the door well before the 2021 season got underway.

During an appearance at the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club in February 2021 that ultimately cost him his job, Mather said of Seager that "this is probably his last season as a Mariner" and called him "probably overpaid."

In a since-deleted tweet in response to the comments, Julie Seager, Kyle's wife, wrote, "So should we put our house in Seattle on the market now, orrrrrr?"

Perhaps motivated by Mather, Seager finished with career highs in home runs (35) and RBI (101) this past year. His 2.5 WAR was fourth-best on the team, per FanGraphs.

Still, the Mariners' decision to pay his $2 million buyout comes as little surprise since the franchise is looking more toward the long term, even after nearly claiming a wild-card spot in the American League.

Seager raised eyebrows in October when he told the Seattle Times' Ryan Divish not only hadn't be spoken with President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto about his status for 2022, but they also "haven't had a conversation in years, probably four years."

"We don't communicate at all," he said. "Not even passing by in the hall. If he spoke to my agent or anything like that, I haven't heard anything."

During his radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle, Dipoto refuted those comments.

"I understand Kyle's emotions, and I don't want to get into a 'he said, she said,' but we've had conversations," he said. "We had a conversation in the spring talking about this season and the possibility that it could be his last in Seattle and his legacy."

The writing was on the wall in Seattle's season finale, a 7-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Oct. 3. Donovan Walton replaced Seager at third in the ninth inning, which allowed him to get a rousing ovation from the fans at T-Mobile Park.


A loud ovation for Kyle Seager from the Seattle faithful! <a href="https://t.co/ZqCrD94nnG">pic.twitter.com/ZqCrD94nnG</a>

The Mariners have retired Edgar Martinez's No. 11 jersey and Ken Griffey Jr.'s No. 24 jersey, in addition to Jackie Robinson's No. 42. In due time, Seager has made a strong case to receive the same honor.

Assuming he isn't returning to the Pacific Northwest on a more team-friendly deal, he ranks fifth in WAR (37.0) among Mariners position players and fourth in hits (1,395), home runs (242) and RBI (807), per Baseball Reference.

Seager figures to be an attractive stopgap at the hot corner for a contending team.

His .212 batting average was a career low, and he had an on-base percentage below .300 (.285) for only the second time. That coincided with a strikeout rate (24.0 percent) well above his career average (18.1 percent), per FanGraphs.

However, he was a significantly better hitter on the road (.261/.323/.538) than he was at home (.159/.245/.329), so a move away from Seattle could be beneficial for his bat.