Free agency…what free agency?
Alright, enough beating around the bush, let's talk about the lightning rod part of this offseason…free agency. This article is not to argue with you or tell you what to think. I'm just telling you my thoughts on what we've seen and heard from this season.
When one of the more intriguing free agent groups became available after a fantastic season that showed the Mariners were really good, but not at the Astros level, fans were hopeful. Then, we saw stars begin to sign. Rangers get deGrom, Judge teases the Giants before returning to the Bronx, which brought Correa to the Bay. One by one these mega stars with their mega contracts were swallowed up, and Seattle remained silent.
Some argue that the Mariners were being cheap, some argued that they were not going to give someone so many years, paying someone close to $30 million in their forties. It seemed like Seattle was still a legitimate threat to sign a major free agent.
On December 1st, Dipoto was doing his weekly radio spot on Brock and Salk when he was asked about signing free agents and how that affects his organization's philosophy. We heard Dipoto talk about being a draft development and trading organization. He spoke about the Mariners being a middle-of-the-pack payroll in the league that has consistently been in the top 10 when competitive. We also heard about the now infamous 2026 crest that Dipoto is focused on.
I don't necessarily hate the vision, but Mariners fans should be frustrated. The Mariners did have a respectable payroll when they tried to make the playoffs with Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager. They chose to take a step back, doing a mini rebuild and shedding almost all of their salary.
This decision was the correct path, as the Mariners have as bright a future as anyone. This decision also meant sitting out of free agency since 2018. That's a lot of money you can legitimately say Seattle ownership has saved. People will say that big free agents, specifically free-agent bats, don't interest Dipoto, but I beg to differ. Last offseason, after barely missing the playoffs, Dipoto clearly said on that same radio show that the Mariners were going big game hunting for a bat.
I asked this question back in the spring, and I ask it again, where did that money go or the desire to big game hunt? We know they had a sizable offer out for Trevor Story last year. This year's crop of SS were all better than Story, yet no offer?
I wouldn't be so upset, but then a week later, Dipoto was pushed again about budget and payroll, and responded in a much more assertive and annoyed way than we've heard from him. He talked once again about the team's spending and how they've essentially already spent their money, spending it on their people.
Spending money on your people is not a bad decision, but that's not something to brag about Jerry. Twenty-eight of the thirty teams in baseball would make the same no-brainer deals that Julio and Castillo got. To not think that you can go out and sign a big star because you're worried about 2026 and also your budget right now, is beyond disappointing.
You never know when exactly your door will open, and it almost always closes sooner than you think. The present looks good for Seattle, and whether you are open to or against a mega deal, adding a star could really raise Seattle's potential today and tomorrow.