Much has been made of the Seattle Mariners financial situation this offseason. While an increase in payroll was expected, fans saw instead, a cut. The Mariners enter the 2012 season with a payroll of $81,978,100–down from the $86,424,600 they spent in 2011.
Many wondered if the Mariners financial loss posted last year might have affected the slash in payroll. Others however, pondered if the Mariners were perhaps loading the cannon in an attempt to spend big during the 2012-2013 offseason; a more astute observation to be sure.
Forbes magazine values the Mariners at $585 million, the 12th richest organization in the MLB. Even with the Mariners’ financial loss posted last fiscal year, they aren’t poor, their wallets aren’t hurting. So go ahead and throw the idea that the Mariners are tightening the grip on money because of one year of financial deficit. The free agent class, or lack thereof, probably contributed most to the lack of spending.
As for the future–next offseason and beyond–the Mariners may indeed be loading the cannon. Seattle is in line for a rather large financial gain, one that could make them a player again on the free agent market. According to this Forbes magazine, the Mariners TV deal includes an opt out clause in 2015, at which time the Mariners could sign a shiny new deal that mimics that of the Angles or Rangers.
"The Mariners, who play in the 12th largest media market versus the number two market of Los Angeles, can opt out of their deal after the 2015 season. The Mariners could get an average of at least $70 million a year, according to media consultants. “The Mariners current deal was signed prior to tipping point for sports fees for rights holders,” says Chris Bevilacqua, who runs a media consulting firm in New York City that goes by his name."
The Mariners are nearing a vicious cycle. Attendance is down and the Mariners are losing money. If the team is not careful they risk not being able to spend money because they cannot make any. In this scenario everyone suffers. The city’s patience is thinning and if the Mariners for some reason cannot reach a new TV deal they could cripple themselves. Lucky for Seattle, they are sitting pretty.
"Bevilacqua, who negotiated on behalf of the Texas Rangers when the team got a new 20-year deal with Fox worth $3 billion (when you include the broadcaster’s upfront payment the team has already received) beginning with the 2014 season, points out that although Seattle’s television market is only about one-third the size of the Los Angeles-Anaheim market, the bidding for the Mariners would be hot."
There are plenty of things to worry about this season. Can this team hit? Will we ever rid ourselves of Miguel Olivo? Can Noesi be consistent? Who is the real Justin Smoak? Fortunately for you, the Mariners financial situation shouldn’t make your list. The Mariners low attendance is very concerning, but as long as fans keep tuning in from home, the Mariners are in for a rather large raise.
The Mariners are going to be just fine.