So I am not a huge “payroll guy”, but I do my best to keep track of where things stand at any given moment. Currently, the Mariners have a payroll of roughly $145 million, which ranks just outside the Top 10. Thus far, under the John Stanton regime, the team has shown a willingness to go right up to or a little beyond the $170 million figure. No reason to believe that won’t be the case going forward.
But studying the payroll is interested. For example, the Mariners have only 4 players who have guaranteed money on their contracts for the 2020 season. These four players; Kyle Seager, Yusei Kikuchi, Dee Gordon, and Marco Gonzales will eat up roughly $55 million in payroll. The team owes roughly $30 million to other teams in buyouts and paying down traded salaries, giving them a starting figure of roughly $85 million. Just like that, half their max payroll is gone.
This winter, players like Mitch Haniger, Omar Narvaez, and Mallex Smith are all arbitration-eligible for the first time. So are Sam Tuivailala, Matt Wisler, Ryon Healy, and Keon Broxton. These 7 players are likely to make less than $20 million total and Healy and Broxton are prime non-tender candidates. Let’s say they all get offers and make $20 million total. We are up to $105 million.
Next, we come to the arbitration 2 or higher guys: Domingo Santana and Tim Beckham. The former will likely earn roughly $5-7 million and the latter will nearly certainly be non-tendered a contract. Let’s play it safe and call it $5 million for Santana and you are up to $110 million for 12 guys.
The rest of your players aren’t arbitration-eligible yet meaning they’ll make the minimum of just under $600,000. Tack on another $10 million for these players and you are already at $120 million. So assuming they have the green light to spend $170 million in 2020 (I don’t think they will) they would have roughly $50 million to play with.
And this is all assuming they don’t trade, extend or make any surprising non-tenders decisions. The numbers are stranger in 2021, but that is so far ahead, it makes no sense to consider it right now.
But to answer the crux of the original question: I would estimate the Mariners total payroll next year to be roughly $140 million. After that, it is anybody’s guess, but I think the absolute max out for this ownership group will be around $180 million.
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