I recently went into detail on the Mariners spending habits throughout the 2012 draft. Have they found a way to defeat this new system, has the level of talent (or lack thereof) resulted in a draft class where they could be allowed to spend less on the first overall pick and more on picks below, or have the Mariners just over extended themselves and will incure the resulting penalties next season? The answer has yet to be seen, but regardless the answer is coming soon.
According to Geoff Baker of the Seattle times, the Mariners are close to reaching a deal with first overall selection Mike Zunino. No word on the amount, but the process should be finished around July.
Talks have been held up due to Zunino’s participation in the college playoffs and will be held up afterwards due to several award ceremonies. Once the Mariners have reeled in their first overall pick, Zunino is destined to start his major league career off with the Mavericks. This figures to be the softest landing spot and a location where he can build some early confidence. As for his ascension through the system, that is going to be driven by his offensive production. Zunino’s defensive game doesn’t figure to need much fine tuning so once he gets the hang of his level offensively, the Mariners will likely move him along to his next challenge.
Zunino joins a system already full of talented catchers, and immediately jumps to the top of the list. Marder, Hicks, and Marlette will likely move behind Zunino in the depth chart and could eventually develop into trade pieces, but probably not right away. This doesn’t exactly muddy up the situation at the big league level either. As Olivo departs the organization, and Montero transitions out of the position (First Base is looking awfully good right now), the team will have a clear slot to insert the organizations newest catcher. Even in the event that it takes some time for him to reach the bigs, the Mariners have a decent stop gap is Jaso and can still use Montero until he is ready.
I am anxious to see the salary figure once the signing is official. The Mariners have done well to turn a draft low on talent into something respectable. Zunino may not be the sleekest, shiny pick that everyone dreamed of, but he is still the metephorical cherry on top of a surprisingly deep draft class for Seattle.
A premature welcome to the Emerald City Mike.