Maybe GM Jerry Dipoto will try to do just that That’s 54 percent A real challenge.
The baseball off-season hasn’t even started yet with the gearing up to high or even medium speed, moving down the road, warming up the tires, making sure the lights are working, etc. What has happened so far has mostly been a payroll cut for the Seattle Mariners.
In case you haven’t noticed, and if you haven’t been Jerry Cantrell you probably haven’t noticed it, the Mariners started the offseason by trading Eugenio Suarez to Arizona. That continued last night when the Mariners linked Jared Kelenic with Marco Gonzalez and Evan White to take those final two contracts to Atlanta for a reliever who sucks (Jackson Cowar) and another arm who hasn’t started shaving yet (Cole Phillips).
On a superficial level, these are explainable, if not defensible. Suarez is 32 years old, has had perhaps his best offensive season in his past rather than his future, and is already scoring more than 30 percent of the time. He’s still a very good glove at third, but the M’s need bats and they might want to open up that spot to put a bigger bat there.
Marco Gonzalez is also 32 and missed most of the season with nerve issues in his forearm, and the M’s didn’t have room for him in their rotation anyway. Kelenic raises some eyebrows, given his profile and past prospect rankings, that he was clearly needed to have Atlanta take on Gonzalez’s contract when he is at risk for injury. But Kelenic only had one hot month in April, and then he was back to the breakout and whiff he always was. He will replace Suarez, but none of these moves should prevent the Mariners from competing in the AL West again, as they did in 2023. But they also don’t help them attract the Rangers or Astros.
It’s also not hard to see the M’s not taking anything in these deals, leaving out two players who were at least contributors last season, and I think the main attraction for the Mariners and their front office was getting $15-20 million off the books. That’s not what a fan base that has seen two playoff wins in 22 years and no titles wants to hear.
Mariners are selling this as removing some driftwood to make a big splash this winter, and that could turn out to be the case. They would be a great home for Shohei Ohtani or Juan Soto or they could put Cody Bellinger at first base, and they need bats.
However, it’s hard to ignore what not only are the Mariners dealing with in their calculations, but what may be the biggest story for MLB heading into next season and especially beyond, especially when the CBA is lifted. While the Mariners are not under the death tent of Diamond Sports Group, they have seen Root Sports pass through it Some tricks With cable companies, throwing their revenue from the channel into doubt for the near future. What that means for future M salaries, even they can’t tell you.
The M class is certainly not the most vulnerable. Arizona and San Diego have already cleared their TV deals with DSG, and we’ve seen what that means for the Padres. Cleveland and Texas could be next, Minnesota is out, and given the shifting landscape between cable and streaming, no team can be quite sure what they’ll get from their local TV deals, other than perhaps the New York teams, Dodgers and Cubs.
And not with little money. San Diego was getting $60 million a year from DSG and MLB covers 80 percent of that right now, but that won’t be a forever solution. Especially when more and more teams need support from their TV deals. Those whose TV deals remain intact will get very tired of supporting those who don’t, and fast.
Which likely means there are only a few teams that would be comfortable paying big-ticket buyouts in free agency this year. This trend may get worse in the coming seasons
Until we get to spring training, we won’t know what the Mariners’ trades mean just yet. Right now, they’re only expected to make $119 million in salary for the 2024 season. They should have room for something big and stay under the tax threshold. What their threshold is with TV money is no longer a sure thing is another matter. And M aren’t the only ones making these calculations right now.
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