The 2014 MLB offseason is still young, but so far the Seattle Mariners are earning high marks. Why you may ask? They haven’t signed or traded for anyone yet, right? Exactly right, the M’s haven’t made a single move. And this is a good thing.
Taking a look around the league, the other teams that have made early noise in signings and trades haven’t exactly exercised the most logical of impulses.
Granted, the recent blockbuster trade between the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers makes sense for both teams and they should be commended for pulling the trigger, but overall that’s where most of the logic goes out the door.
Let’s take a look at a couple, and then examine how it applies to the M’s.
The first head-scratcher is the Philadelphia Phillies’ offseason agenda. They’ve signed outfielder Marlon Byrd to a two-year $16 million deal. Yes, he had a great 2013 (and was particularly useful on my fantasy team down the stretch) but the man is 36 and it’s highly improbable he’ll be able to produce at the same level next season.
This is exactly the kind of signing the M’s should avoid, and so far have. Last year they signed an aging Raul Ibanez, and it turned out to be a great move, but signing older guys like Byrd is, overall, risky. The M’s should, and have, avoided this type of move so far — and that’s good. The M’s have money right now, but that doesn’t mean they should throw it around willy-nilly.
The Phillies also signed catcher Carlos Ruiz to a three-year $26 million deal. Good catchers are hard to come by, and should be financially compensated when they do drop-by, but the Phillies are overpaying here. A guy like Ruiz, with his track record and age, doesn’t deserve this type of money. And when looking at what the M’s have done so far, this a great example of how Seattle is succeeding.
Look at Kendrys Morales. He’s not an hall of famer, but he did provide good production at the 1st base/ DH spot this season, and is going to command some money for his talent. But though the M’s probably want him back, they haven’t thrown the kitchen sink at him when they have the money to do so.
They offered him a qualifying offer in order to secure a draft pick if he signs elsewhere, and now they’re sitting and waiting. They’re not overpaying to bring him back; they’re waiting to see if some other team overpays, and if they do, the M’s get a good draft pick, and if they don’t, the M’s swoop back in. Morales does offer some covetable services, but unlike the Phillies, the M’s are waiting and will pull the trigger if the price is right. I give this tactic two thumbs up.
Now lets look at the Cleveland Indians’ signing of David Murphy to a two-year $12 deal. This signing could have a nice upside for the Indians, but this is, again, an example of what the M’s shouldn’t do: throwing money best used elsewhere at an outfielder with a spotty track record. Murphy is pretty much just a platoon player, and, not to sleight him or his talents, not the kind of player who the M’s should gamble money on. The M’s weren’t even rumored to be in the hunt for Murphy, but just to highlight the kind of signing the M’s should avoid, this is a perfect example.
The San Diego Padres just recently signed starting pitcher Josh Johnson to a one-year $8 million deal. This is isn’t a horrible deal, but if it was the M’s who had pulled this deal, my tone would be different. Paying $8 million for Johnson would be a waste of money. This is the kind of deal the M’s should avoid like the plague: gambling valuable money on a player who has potential for a comeback, but who could feasibly turn into a major bust.
This also true of the San Francisco Giants resigning starting pitcher Tim Lincecum to a two-year $35 million deal. As nice as it would have been to see him return to the northwest and atone for the failings of drafting Brandon Morrow, $35 million is simply too much. If the M’s had signed Lincecum for that kind of money, they would still not being a winning team, and wouldn’t have the necessary money to nab a guy who could make them one. Lincecum, as a CY Young winner, has an incredibly high upside, but he could also turn into a colossal bust.
This obviously isn’t all of the moves that have taken place (Jason Vargas to the Royals), but highlights where other teams are taking risks that the M’s can’t afford. The team has money, and if they spend it wisely, 2014 could be a great year. They’ve been quiet so far, and that’s brilliant.
The winter meetings are on the horizon, it’s probable the M’s won’t be quiet for long, and when they do make some noise, hopefully it’ll elicit the right kind of noise from their fans.