"We can't mess this up."
The Mariners have been inactive all offseason, but don't mistake their inaction for complacency.
The Mariners have been inactive this offseason, but don’t mistake their reluctance for complacency. Seattle’s front office is under enormous pressure this offseason, both by the payroll restrictions placed on them by ownership and from a fanbase starving for action and impact.
The offseason began with hope and optimism surrounding the Mariners’ ability to acquire impact talent via free agency or trade, especially after President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto said the payroll was due for an increase.
Since then we have seen one minor offensive acquisition, and two fan favorites traded for the purpose of shedding salary. If the payroll is going to increase from last season, it isn’t going to be by much.
This reluctance to spend puts extreme amounts of pressure on Seattle’s front office group to thread the tiniest of needles in terms of player acquisition. Let’s say the payroll is allowed to increase to 145 million dollars. That gives Seattle 25-30 million dollars (depending on where you look) to spend on free agents and trades.
Signing any significant free agent bat would almost certainly cost 15 million dollars at minimum, leaving 10-15 million for other acquisitions.
Jerry Dipoto and this front office have said they would like to acquire a middle-of-the-order bat to place behind J.P. Crawford and Julio Rodríguez. They have also indicated this bat could be in the form of a corner outfielder, corner infielder, or designated hitter. In total, they would like to acquire 3 bats, including 1.5 outfielders.
The free agent market has been well documented. Outside of Shohei Ohtani and a few star pitchers who will almost certainly get overvalued, you will have to squint to find a star on the market. Seattle certainly doesn’t have the funds to overpay one player, let alone two.
Fans have been frustrated by Seattle’s lack of action, and rightfully so. However, their inaction isn’t a result of complacency. They have to get this right, and this was reiterated on the most recent episode of Talkin M’s with Ryan Divish.
These words were said to Divish in a conversation with a front office member,
“We can’t mess this up.”
These comments indicate a tremendous amount of pressure, both from ownership and the fanbase to make moves that create the best possible roster in 2024. So while I understand the general anxiety and anticipation from the fan base, their current course of action is probably the correct one.
Not many players who were feasible for Seattle this offseason have been taken off the board anyway, and the trade market is thin to begin with. They have calculated their needs, and now they need to execute them fully.
The free agent market is thin. If you miss out on Jorge Soler I’m not convinced you should spend money on any of the other “significant” bats. A similar deal to the one they signed with AJ Pollock last season could be in place with Hunter Renfroe or Adam Duvall.
The trade market is thin. Many teams believe they can compete for a playoff spot this season because of expanded playoffs, and the amount of impact bats available on the market is extremely limited.
The front office knows the importance of this offseason. They also know they are up against their ownership, and a difficult, but not impossible task in front of them.
It can certainly be accomplished, but we may be waiting for a move for a while as this market continues to take shape.
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