This past offseason, for the first time in recent memory, Mariners’ ownership opened the pocketbook in hopes of finally making the team competitive again.
But though the additions of Robinson Cano, Fernando Rodney, and Austin Jackson (at the Trade Deadline) provided a much-needed spark, it was not enough to break the M’s postseason drought, which reached 13 years.
Continued improvement from the young core of Kyle Seager, Mike Zunino, and company might be enough in the coming years to get Seattle over the hump, but according to Mariners’ team president Kevin Mather (and reported by Nick Eaton of seattlepi.com), patience is not in the minds of Nintendo of America and CEO Howard Lincoln: the organization will again increase its payroll for the 2015 campaign.
This announcement, along with rumors that Justin Smoak‘s time in the Great Northwest is done, likely means that upwards of $15-20 million will be available to the front office this winter as they pursue the pieces that can make the Mariners a playoff-worthy unit.
More from Mariners News
- What Jerry Dipoto’s trades, comments mean for remainder of Mariners offseason
- Mariners Select Chris Clarke in Rule 5 Draft
- Thank you for a Memorable Year, Abraham Toro and Jesse Winker!
- Winter Meetings Wrap Up: Checking where the Mariners stand
- A Farewell to Mitch Haniger as he signs with the San Francisco Giants
The M’s biggest need is still a competent middle-of-the-order right-handed bat. Jackson, a leadoff hitter by trade, was never going to fill that role, so the majority of funds should be allocated there. Assuming Nelson Cruz‘s spectacular year will drive his price out of Seattle’s range, early options could include Billy Butler or Hanley Ramirez, both of whom would hopefully provide batting average that is missing elsewhere in the lineup.
However, first base is not anymore a glaring hole thanks to the wonderfully surprising turnaround from Logan Morrison down the stretch.
Butler would thus be asked mainly to DH, while Ramirez would be an interesting idea if the combination of Brad Miller and Chris Taylor at shortstop is not satisfying to management (or if one of those two can bring back good talent in a trade).
In addition, a mid-level starter to fill out the rotation would not be the worst idea. Behind Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma (whose $7M option for 2015 will certainly be picked up), there are a lot of question marks.
Chris Young may not come back after petering out in the later months of the season, and Taijuan Walker, Erasmo Ramirez, and James Paxton all have not played enough in the big leagues to establish themselves as truly reliable.
Here, Brandon McCarthy might be a lost-cost option, as his form once he got off a dysfunctional Arizona roster was much improved.
Of course, the Mariners will look to add in other areas, such as outfield depth, but these will probably not represent a large portion of their offseason expenditures.
So, while the sting of Sunday still burns strong, Mariners fans should rejoice: ownership is doubling down, and if Zduriencik gets it right, this time next year King Felix may be getting the ball to start his first career (and long overdue) playoff game.