I know that alot of people feel more comfertable with big names and they want to see the Seattle Mariners go after a few this off-season with all the offensive woes. I’ve been really quick to insist that Jack Zduriencik won’t sign any high rollers this off-season. Which I realize is just as bad as saying they will sign some big high priced free-agents, simply because there is the process of evaluation that is needed to weight the pros and cons.
I have built a spread sheet that co-relates all the avilable free-agents WAR and last year’s dollar value. I don’t know if I personally like too many fits for this team and really the thought of the Mariners signing someone high priced such as Jason Bay really frightens me, and ultimately reason behind it is that I’m just really tired of bringing in free-agents, have them play one or two decient or (maybe) good years for the 4 or 5 years plus the outrageous amount that is used to sign them.
Jason Bay is just an example, but lets think about this. Should the Mariners decide they want to go after someone like him this off-season, they have only three options for Michael Saunders, they trade him, they place him in the minors or they create an opening(i.e. deal either Guiterrez or Ichiro). The only exception would be if they signed him to play first base or DH. But i really don’t think either of those things are in play at this point.
So you lose out on Michael Saunders, but also you lose out on a first round pick in the 2010 draft. While there isn’t alot of names out there right now, the Mariners are still rebuilding their farm system and regardless who that pick would be, I would argue that it is still of significant value.
Speaking of value you would also be tying up a huge amount of money, and that money that maybe needed to do a number of things. It could be used to upgrade other more needed positions that we don’t have immedate options (1b/DH), or towards Felix Hernandez deal, if needed we could use it towards a better fit free-agent for next season. There are some things we also have to realize, that being attendence has been down yet again this year and as the average is starting to pick up towards the end of the year. they are still down, and this could frighten away the owners from spending money in the free-agent market. Remember they are still on the hook for both Kenji and Silva.
So obviously i’ve pointed out some “Cons” to the situation of signing a big name free-agent, and i do realize there are some positives at the same time. Such as you get a player who is in the prime of their career, ready to produce. You don’t have to wait for talent to cultivate and grow. Because of that you can can flip prospects that are blocked and big league ready for other needs (prospects or needed veterns in other positions). The way the MLB draft works now losing a 1st round pick isn’t that big of an issue since top talent isn’t always drafted at the top. If you need to free up money you can usually send the signed free-agent to another team for future pieces (ala Matt Holiday).
The thing is you have to weight the pros and cons of the situation, and ultimately we also have our bias and I have mine.
I am really high on Michael Saunders, I like his defensive tool set and I think his bat will eventually develop very nicely. He is fitted to play at Safeco with his left handed bat and speed, and at this point with the Mariners rebuilding i think an extra early draft pick would help get more life into our system. Finally i don’t like bringing in high priced talent. It brings its own amount of risk to the team just like a prospect (I do acknowledge that free-agenc’s risk is less) and while prospects are financially cheap and big named talent isn’t. There are plenty of teams that have put together great teams with out using bringing in big name talent and have built great teams from under-valued players (david ortiz), young prospects (Miguel Cabrera), and a few veterns players (Frank Thomas, Scott Rolen, Carlos Delgado). That is how guys make names for themselves and in turn it creates the demand for the players that we thought we should forgo for the big name star.