Sure, the Los Angeles Dodgers have won the National League West eight straight years. Yes, they won the World Series in 2020 but the Seattle Mariners don’t need to be the Dodgers. The Dodgers payroll in 2021 is almost $250 million. The Mariners can’t and won’t get to that number. The Dodgers build winning teams by spending a lot of money and that’s okay.
It’s well within the rules to spend what you want but it doesn’t work for everyone. The Mariners payroll for 2021 is under $80 million. Can a team with under $100 million on the books even sniff the postseason? Ask the Tampa Bay Rays, who lost to L.A. in the World Series last year, or the Oakland Athletics.
In 2019, both the Rays and the A’s made the Postseason with under $100 million on the books. They make it work with analytics, organizational development, and a mentality that they can beat anybody.
The Mariners have a little of both worlds working for them.
They don’t have to have a bottom-barrel budget (like the Rays) and they are hopefully (finally!) developing Minor League (yes, that’s still a thing) talent and legit talent at that. The M’s can dip into free agency, when needed, to fill holes but don’t need to spend top dollar on five or six free agents to make a run to the postseason and beyond.
The rebuild is coming along nicely, not much money on the books past this season, and names like Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, and Logan Gilbert can be found atop any prospect ranking list you come across. But you are also going to need some veteran talent around to help the young guns get through the ups and downs of 162 games. J.P. Crawford, Evan White, and Ty France are doing what they can to prove they are a part of what is building in Seattle.
The veteran Mitch Haniger and ‘Cap’ Kyle Seager are what a young team needs. They are an example on the field, the voice in the clubhouse to hold guys accountable, and also a guy that the young guys can approach at any time for advice. Oh, did I mention they also have the reigning American League Rookie of the Year, who is coming back soon, Kyle Lewis?
The Dodgers make it work by putting a lot of high-priced talent on the field and crushing most opponents that stand in their way. The Rays and A’s beat you and leave you scratching your head saying “how did those guys just beat us, again?”
The Seattle Mariners don’t need to be either of those clubs to build a winning team that can challenge for a World Series title. You want to build an organization that isn’t just happy to be in the postseason but that is disappointed by losing in the Championship Series.
They just need to add a piece when it is needed, use their analytics department, and trust Jerry Dipoto to make all the right moves and right calls to put together a winning mentality.