Nine Mariners players are in line for a raise this offseason, slightly elevating their payroll expectations heading into the Winter.
MLBTradeRumors has released their annual arbitration salary projections for the 2018-19 offseason. Their forecast has been pretty much spot-on over the years, allowing us to get an accurate early peak into the books of all 30 MLB clubs. Arbitration salaries are determined by a multitude of factors, including service time and performance. Teams can either negotiate with arbitration-eligible players to avoid arbitration altogether, take the negotiation to an arbitrator, trade the player, or non-tender the player, thus making them a free agent.
As for the Mariners, they’re in a really good spot with these projections. At the top are James Paxton and Álex Colomé. Both are set to receive relatively modest paydays, as Paxton and Colomé are set to see an uptick in salary of $4.1 million and $2 million respectively. These numbers would ultimately set Paxton’s salary to $9 million and Colomé’s to $7.3 million, both of which remain to be fantastic deals for the Mariners.
Catchers Mike Zunino and Chris Herrmann are also in line to receive minor raises of roughly $1 million each. Herrmann is a potential non-tender candidate, as the Mariners may aim to upgrade their backup catcher role this offseason. Roenis Elías is set to make the least out of the Mariners’ nine arbitration-eligible players, at about $400k. Elías had a solid year out of the bullpen in 2018, handling spot-start duties toward season’s end. Keeping him is an easy decision for the Mariners, as Elías will likely fulfill that role again in 2019.
Ryan Cook and Justin Grimm appear to be the Mariners’ most obvious non-tender options. Both had incredibly mediocre seasons and spent most of their time in Triple-A Tacoma in 2018, making their $1 million-plus projections simply unreasonable and unnecessary. The Mariners can easily supplement the veteran depth they leave behind over the course of the offseason.
The outlook becomes clouded when analyzing what the Mariners will decide to do with Nick Vincent and Erasmo Ramírez. Vincent, set to make $3.5 million in 2019, got off to an inconsistent start in 2018, but finished the season strong. With Matt Festa having a solid cup of coffee in the latter months of 2018, and Art Warren and Wyatt Mills surely close behind him, the Mariners may not see the purpose in paying Vincent, a middle reliever, his expected salary.
Of the five non-tender possibilities, Vincent definitely holds the most value on the trade market. This will likely be the avenue the Mariners take in the event they decide to part ways with him this Winter.
Ramírez’s situation is a little more complicated, given his versatility as a starter or reliever. However, he hasn’t been, um, you know, good? At least not in his time in Seattle. MLBTR’s $4.4 million projection for Ramírez is not exactly a viable option for the Mariners, who will need every bit of financial flexibility they can get. So maybe it’s not complicated at all; Ramírez is likely on his way out.
At most, I’d expect Seattle to retain six of the nine players mentioned, depending on what they decide with Vincent and Herrmann. In essence, non-tendering (or trading) Vincent and Ramírez will pay for the raises they will certainly award to Paxton, Zunino, Colomé, and Elías.
Expect more content surrounding these arbitration projections this month, including potential trade ideas for those the Mariners may choose to move on from.