State of the Mariners Address: An Interview with the Seattle Times’ Larry Stone

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Sep 25, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds center fielder

Shin-Soo Choo

walks to first in the third inning during a game against the New York Mets at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Do the Mariners make an all-out blitz for free agents this offseason, or should money be spent to better supplement the young core of this team?

LS: “They are in a position where they can really do both. There is a heck of a lot of money off the books, payroll-wise.”

Not only are the Mariners paying a majority of the team on rookie contracts, but the new $2 Billion TV deal inked this season allows for roughly $30 million more for the payroll.

LS: “They [the Mariners] are just sitting with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma as big money guys.”

So what does that yield potentially for the M’s this offseason?

LS: “They can do the big strike on a Jacoby Ellsbury guy, but [can] also do the incremental stuff like [signing] a Corey Hart to fill-out the roster.”

What puts the Mariners in a difficult position this offseason, though, is that there is a lot of money to be spent throughout baseball and not nearly enough desirable free agents.

LS: “It is going to be an expensive winter, flush with cash. It is always dangerous when teams like the Yankees- money teams- are looking to be aggressive… it’s going to be another year where you scratch your heads at some of the signings.”

Moreover, something that inhibits big fish frying in Seattle is the general view of the organization right now. Being in Boston for college, whenever I tell people I am a Mariners fan they usually respond with “I’m sorry” or “wow, sucks for you”. But despite the fact that the Mariners have experienced such a dramatic drop in attendance over the last decade, free agents can still see Seattle as a desirable place to play.

LS: “The perception of the team is so low right now, they are going to have a hard time attracting big-ticket guys.”

But it hasn’t always been that way:

LS: “In the early 2000s players found Seattle to be a desirable location… if they can get a winning thing going again, get the fans back, the free agents will come. It is kind of a chicken and the egg thing, you need one to get the other.”