PI:Mariners sign Matt Lawton

DMZ · December 22, 2005 at 4:55 pm · Filed Under Mariners 


Matt Lawton, who admitted in a story in USA Today Sports Weekly Thursday morning that he’d used steroids, struck a deal with the Seattle Mariners Thursday afternoon, the Seattle P-I has learned.

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s:
– 2 guys who failed a steroid test last year (Franklin, Strong)
+ 1 guy who failed a steroid test last year (Lawton)
= -1 net guy who failed a steroid test last year.

Fortunately, it’s on the cheap:

The 34-year-old will make only barely more than the minimum, $400,000, as a base salary. But he has incentives in the deal that could bring him $1.65 million if he maximizes his at-bats.

Still, it wasn’t that long ago Lawton was a useful player, putting up solid on-base numbers, though it’s been a long, long time since he hit for good power. Maybe he’s done, maybe he’s not. If he outhits Everett, who’s getting almost 10x his salary, it’d be amusing.

And this gives me an excuse to quote my player comment on him in the 2003 Baseball Prospectus:

Lawton’s headed into the second year of a four-year, $27 million deal. For an outfielder whose major attribute is his batting eye, that’s a little pricey. He’s coming off of an especially frustrating season that ended with surgery to remove a cyst in his shoulder that may push his return into the second half of the 2003 season. What they found in his shoulder was reportedly as gruesome as anything outside of Peter Jackson’s horror classic Bad Taste. It took a team of medical specialists to revive the medical specialists who passed out after taking the first look into that abyss, unprepared for what would be staring back at them. Lawton’s expected to be back and healthy eventually, but how many horror movies don’t have sequels?

#7 on Lawton’s comparable players list, as selected by PECOTA?

Ron Fairly.


110 Responses to “PI:Mariners sign Matt Lawton”

  1. Bonefan on December 23rd, 2005 9:37 am

    This team has a chance to be productive and fun to watch, albeit with more if’s and but’s than candied nuts at Christmas. (E.g. IF we can all agree to accept Jurassic Carl as an “eccentric”. IF Lawton can still be a productive on-base guy at 34 and with a ground chuck labrum. IF Jojima is more Hideki Matsui than Kaz Matsui. If the new bats produce well enough so Beltre sees 10% more fastballs. If nobody pulls a Sand Frog.) As constituted, it’s a singles and doubles hitting team, with no one to clog the basepaths (why Grover usually batted his slowest guy 9th, with Ichiro! up next is a topic previously debated ad nauseum).

    I happen to believe this outfield is constructed to give Grover some depth and options, NOT to move Reed for a pitcher. I like Clement, and reallly like Arroyo for the money. But I really think Dave had the best take on the market when he demonstrated how scarce ML-level CF’s are relative to mid-rotation SP’s. I’ll say Ichiro ends up with his 700 plate appearances, Reed 600, Ibanez 500, Everett and Lawton 400 each. Does that work? 2600 PA’s among 4 slots?

  2. Grizz on December 23rd, 2005 9:49 am

    Signing Lawton to a cheap contract is a good move. He (hopefully) makes Dobbs obsolete as the lefthanded bat off the bench, provides insurance for when Ibanez (age 33) or Everett (age 34) slump or come up lame, and adds an adequate glove to the outfield. And on a short-term deal, he is not blocking anyone. He is significantly better than the minor league options.

    Jim is right on about Choo. This site has covered in great depth the gaping holes in Choo’s game. As Dave pointed out, Choo cannot hit AAA offspeed pitches or AAA lefthanded pitching, he lacks any consistent power, and he is a defensive liability even in leftfield (Choo cannot “judge a fly ball and take a route that fails to leave crop circles in the outfield” — great line, Dave). His numbers in Tacoma were nothing to get excited about: his OPS last year (813) put him just between Hunter Brown (814) and Abraham Nunez (811) (and to put those in context, Doyle’s was 1.005). Let Choo play full time in Tacoma and give him an opportunity to improve.

  3. Revenant Edgar on December 23rd, 2005 9:56 am

    I basically agree Bonefan. Except Ichiro will probably get 740 plate appearance and Ibanez should get closer to 650.

    Name P AVG OBP SPC G AB R H 2B 3B HR

    Lawton* lf .254 .350 .390 135 497 81 126 23 0 15

    This ZIPS projection is for Yankee Stadium. I don’t like giving 350 PA to this hitter. Perhaps he is better suited to the bench which means more PA for Everett.

    Snelling should get as many appearances as possible.

  4. Weasel on December 23rd, 2005 10:05 am

    What I don’t understand about the general sentiment with this thread, is the idea that Lawton was even an option…Yes it’s a low risk/high reward contract, but is that what the M’s really needed. I may be one of the few peole that actually liked the Washburn signing (granted the money was high, but you can’t blame the market on the M’s – if they sat on their hands refusing to pay “market value”, we would all be cursing them for that, but I digress). But the biggest problem that I have is that fact that this team has seemly lost all sense of direction. When Garcia was traded for Reed, Morse, and Olivio that was the projected future up the middle. And while Olivio was horrible at catcher, I never did understand why they gave up on Morse at SS. The idea that Reed is now expendable – makes that trade unforgiveable. At least when they traded RJ and Griffey we got some use out of the parts before they were jettisoned.

    What I would really like to see is Bavasi expose those nerves and get a little reckless. They are some major offensive contributors that are still somewhat available – Manny (although Boston may try to hold onto him now – but why just keep one of the “idiots”) and Tejada to name the most prominent. I do not understnd why Bavasi has made it his mission to protect Bentacourt, Lopez, and the likes form trade talks. As a 90 loss team (two time 90 loss team even more so), there should almost be no one safe. That being said, you want to keep pieces to build around. Sexson, Felix, Beltre, Ichiro – these are the guys that should be the core. The spare parts – Ibanez, Reed, Lopez, etc. should be considered in trade talks…

    If Lawton was brought in to be the 4th OF’er so be it, but if Lawton was brought in to make Reed expendable it makes no sense. Preston Wilson would have a much better solution to that problem. Regardless of the purpose of the move, I say be willing to be creative in order to make the team better. If it takes including a third team to get a deal done so be it…

    Here is one crazy three team trade idea:
    O’s get Manny, Meche, Mateo
    Bo’Sox get Tejada, Reed
    M’s get Palebon or Lester, Gibbons

  5. NYGuy on December 23rd, 2005 10:14 am

    Don’t discount the possibility that Lawton doesn’t make the team out of Spring Training. I usually go along with the numbers, but he looked terrible every time out this September. Unless whatever was hurting him enough to be his excuse for steroids is completely healed, he looks like a 34 year old whose skills have declined rapidly.
    He is at best a useful player off the bench. If he gets more than a dozen starts you can plan your October trip to Hawaii… I guess you can do that anyway.

  6. Jon Wells on December 23rd, 2005 10:18 am

    ESPN’s Rob Neyer seems to like Jeremy Reed’s upside — talking about Coco Crisp, he threw this note about Reed in at the end…

    “I don’t know anything about Crisp’s defense, except he got pushed out of center field by Sizemore. I’ll tell you this, though: within two or three years, Crisp will be just as good a hitter as Johnny Damon. And for that matter, so will Jeremy Reed.”

  7. Joe on December 23rd, 2005 10:26 am

    Ron Fairly, on or about April 2006: “Matt Lawton is 34 years-old; he’s been around for awhile. That should give you some idea of how old he is.”

  8. Toasty on December 23rd, 2005 10:41 am

    I like it, mainly because there’s almost no downside. Seeing the Rondell White signing, one wonders how a White/Lawton platoon would have performed versus Everett. I’m not sure what the take is on White’s defense (at one time it was good, but I’m sure all the knee problems haven’t helped).

    An a related note, what is the current status of our home-grown lefty corner OF with patience? I know it’s a painful subject, but does anyone know his plans for rehab? I just keep thinking, if he can just get one more shot at it….

  9. Eric on December 23rd, 2005 10:48 am


    I think Rob likely meant that Damon will decline and Crisp and Reed will imporve meeeting in the middle, not that Reed and Crisp in 2 or 3 years will be as good as Damon was this year.

  10. DMZ on December 23rd, 2005 10:58 am

    w/r/t the many deleted comments:

    First, “this should be moderated” comments get deleted where we see them. They’re o/t and hijack comment threads. Complaints and o/t stuff should go to us via email

    Second, even if you’re reading the comment guidelines there is actually a section that, quite specifically, calls out the distinction between “that’s a sucky argument” and “you’re sucky”. Arguing that the former is abusive is nutty.

    And with that, I’ll submit and then, later, apply my own logic and delete this comment.