The Seattle Mariners’ slow off-season is a choice the front office is making that can be defended. It’s boring, but if the alternative is what this AL West rivals plan appears to be, it is significantly better.
Sure, when a team is deeply involved in both the Anthony Rendon and Gerritt Cole, it generates quite a buzz. And when you actually land one, it causes the baseball world to freak out. Some of the less informed reporters may call your lineup the best in the game and immediately rush to call you a World Series contender. But they would be wrong.
By now, it should be pretty obvious we are talking about the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. And to be honest, their off-season is one of the most disappointing in the game. Sure, adding Rendon to your lineup makes you a better team. Clearly. But what does it truly accomplish?
Sure, you get some headlines and ignite a fan base. And yes, you’re certainly a better team with Rendon than without him. But how much closer are the Angels to the Oakland A’s and Houston Astros thanks to this signing? The simple answer is; still a distant third.
You see, splashy free-agent additions are fun, but they still to come with some substance. And for the Los Angeles Angels, Rendon isn’t the holy grail that puts them over the top as a World Series contender. They need to back it up with more quality players, particularly in their rotation.
But they didn’t land Cole. They didn’t sign Strasburg. They decided the cost of a reliever and 5th OF was too much for Corey Kluber. But hey, at least they signed #5 starter Julio Teheran to a 1-year deal. So that should fix everything, right?
So what is the lesson for Mariners fans? Should they not sign good players? Of course, they should, but they need to do so wisely. Spending money just to spend it is stupid. Making a signing just to make headlines is dumb. And this is a lesson Mariners fans should be well aware of.
Robinson Cano was a really good player for Seattle, but the team needs a lot more help. They got Nelson Cruz the following year and then just stopped. Cano and Cruz made the lineup better and did push the team into several playoff races. But their contracts restricted what the team could spend elsewhere and likely pushed back a true rebuild a few years.
Imagine if the Mets hadn’t been dumb enough to take Cano off the Mariners’ hands. How much worse would the future look with $24 million a year going to somebody with no chance to be a value in your rebuild?
A time will come when it makes sense for Seattle to spend big in free agency. And when they do, hopefully, they show more awareness for building a good team rather than chasing headlines.