The season is finally over. The Oakland Athletics put the proverbial fork in the Seattle Mariners’ 2013 season on Sunday. Let’s be honest, someone put a fork in this team a few months ago, but there was still some hope for the future, watching all of the talented prospects get a chance in September.
But now, the Mariners set sail into the offseason without a manager. In 2014, the team will welcome its 19 manager in team history and the seventh in the past decade. But we’ve already touched a little bit on who we think is on GM Jack Zduriencik’s list for manager, or at least who should be.
Today, we’ll take a look at who else may be walking the plank right out of Seattle. Here are the 2013 free agents.
Kendrys Morales: Morales came to Seattle from the Angels in the Jason Vargas trade last December. He signed a 1-year, $5.25 M deal in January. In 2013, Morales posted career-highs in games played (156), at-bats (602), walks (49) and unfortunately, double plays grounded into (21). His .277 batting average led the team. As did his 80 RBI and his 167 hits. His 23 homers were 2nd only to Raul Ibanez.
But yet, on August 26 of this year, an unknown team claimed Morales off waivers, but since a deal wasn’t put together in the 48-hour window, the Mariners pulled him off waivers. Why would a team place one of their only offensive leaders on waivers? My guess is, they don’t either plan on re-signing him, or they don’t think he will come back.
With Scott Boras as his agent, Morales will likely be trying to get a four or five year deal in the neighborhood of $8-$10M/year. The last thing the Mariners can afford to do is give up on a bat. But with Justin Smoak as the team’s first baseman for the foreseeable future and the likelihood the team will bring back Ibanez for one more year, likely as a DH, then where do you put Morales? Why spend the money when you have bigger needs in the outfield and bullpen?
Raul Ibanez: The Mariners’ leader in home runs this season with 29. At age 41, only Ted Williams has hit as many home runs in a season. But with his contract up, does Ibanez come back for one more year, to finish his career in Seattle?
The big question for Seattle is; Is his defensive liabilities worth the offensive boost? That’s assuming that he can duplicate his 2013 numbers in 2014, which I’m not sure he can. Ibanez only played in 124 games in 2013, 100 in the outfield, 21 at DH and three as a pinch-hitter. Yet, in those 100 games in the outfield, he committed four errors in 174 chances (.977).
If Seattle wished to save a little money in the DH search, they can probably talk Ibanez into coming back for one more year, strictly as a DH and get him for around $2M. Then again, he only batted .242 and struck out a team-high 128 times. He’ll probably be the M’s opening day starter in left.
The Catchers: Kelly Shoppach, Humberto Quintero and Henry Blanco are all free agents this year. So the question is; How convinced are the Mariners that Mike Zunino is their guy behind the plate next year? My guess is, they are convinced. But that doesn’t mean Zunino won’t need some help. However, with Jesus Montero still in the mix, the M’s don’t really need to sign any of these guys. Personally, I would love to see the M’s go after Brian McCann and convince him to split time as a catcher and a DH. But that’s probably too much to ask.
Verdict: ALL GOING
Oliver Perez: A left-handed reliever the Mariners really can’t afford to go into 2014 without. In 2013, Perez was 3-3 with a 3.74 ERA in 61 games. Only Yoervis Medina had a lower ERA out of the M’s bullpen in 2013- Charlie Furbush also had a 3.74 ERA (hard to believe, I know).
There are a lot of potential bullpen arms available this offseason and I truly believe the Mariners need to get themselves a few of them. However, I think that the top priority for the bullpen is to re-sign Perez. A 2-3 yr deal in the neighborhood of $2-$2.5M/year should do it.
So there you go. The majority of this team’s 40-man roster is under contract for 2014. It’ll be up to Black-Jack Zduriencik to bring his best poker face to the table to convince some top talent to come to Seattle. Or, he will continue with the status quo and re-sign all of the free agents and hope things just magically turn out better in 2014 than they did in 2013.