If, as a Mariners fan, you've been paying attention this offseason (which I would think that most have been) then you've noticed that the Mariners have been quite wary to spend any money. Shoot, it's been par for the course over the course of the last decade or so. The outlier was Robbie Ray, and that was because he called the Mariners and asked to come here.
It's been a long, slow, and trying offseason for the Mariners as they've rebuilt their team, and the latest big move may have been the final impactful one that they make in the Jorge Polanco trade. However, Ken Rosenthal wrote on the move, and wonders, as fans have been doing, why the Mariners just won't spend money to improve their product on the field.
Ken Rosenthal echos fan sentiment on the lack of money being spent by the Mariners
"Here’s a radical thought ownership apparently never considered: Spend on Snell, trade for Soto or sign Cody Bellinger, retain subscribers by putting a better, more entertaining product on the field. Again, that’s not the world the Mariners are living in. Their offseason reflects their current world order. Ownership’s excuse du jour."- Ken Rosenthal, The Athletic
It really fits the mantra of "You have to spend money to make money" that you so often hear. If the Mariners had made a big and splashy move that had an impact on the teams performance, pushing them into contention for the top team in the AL, you would see increases in ticket purchases and merchandise sales. More eyes on the team, more money brought in.
It hasn't been the case though. According to Fangraphs, the Mariners are currently set to be about $5M below last season's salary mark. You get the idea that Rosenthal wants to like the Mariners move for Polanco, but feels frusturated at how the Mariners have put the team together.
Hey, I get it. It makes sense and is understandable. If you went back to what the team had at the start of the offseason, you could've just made one big signing to improve the team. You put the QO on Teoscar to keep him, keep Kelenic, and keep Geno. As Rosenthal mentions, "last season accounted for more than 25 percent of their home runs yet nearly 35 percent of their strikeouts", it's still risky, but that power and potential for instant offense is a need and want by all teams.
Essentially, it's a risk v reward. You add a bat to that, whether its Bellinger, Candelario, Gurriel, Soler, or Jung Hoo Lee, and you can see the path to a much improved offense. You fill that hole in the lineup that you've needed, and show fans faith by spending money in free agency to do so. Whether or not it works out is one thing, but driving positive interactions with the fans in the offseason to drive early ticket sales would do a lot for the public perception.
Or, you know, you could always just sign a pitcher instead of trading for one. Maybe... the guy who is from here and wants to come play here?
"Might the team, which last season fell short of the playoffs by one game, be in an even stronger position if it signs free-agent left-hander Blake Snell, a Seattle-area native? Of course. But because of the limits imposed by ownership, that’s not the world the Mariners are living in."- Ken Rosenthal, The Athletic
That would give fans faith as well as hitting the Dipoto special of obtaining a player in order to make a trade from a surplus in order to fill a need. It all seems like a reasonable path that could've been taken this offseason. Instead, the Mariners took a much longer and more convoluted path to remake this team, seeing new starters at 5 of the 9 lineup positions (2B, 3B, LF, RF, DH).
Is Rosenthal right? Most likely. Are the Mariners wrong? Not neccesarily. Time will tell if the Mariners went about this the right way, but Ken has a point. The Mariners should be spending more money than they are, especially with the foundation they have and the market they are in.