The Budget

Dave · January 8, 2009 at 6:44 am · Filed Under Mariners 

When John Hickey wrote about the Tyler Walker signing, he used the column to make a larger point about the M’s payroll, including dropping this tidbit that hadn’t been published before:

But there likely won’t be much more free-agency action because the team has a goal of trimming last year’s $117 million payroll by about 20 percent.

To support this claim, he includes the following quote from Zduriencik:

“I don’t think we are going to be enormously active in free agency,” Zduriencik said. “If the fit is right there, maybe, but we’re not in position to break the bank.”

If the M’s really do want to cut 20% off of their payroll from last year, that would put the 2009 budget at around $93.6 million. If you add up the salaries for the projected 25 man roster as it stands right now, you get $93.2 million. He’s not kidding when he says they’re not in a position to break the bank.

Now, there’s some wiggle room there. Ichiro is going to earn $17 million this season, but $5 million of his salary is deferred at 5.5% interest until after he retires, so they’re only going to physically pay him $12 million. However, they need to account for the deferred payments as a liability against this year, but thanks to the time value of money, the cost of those payments won’t total $5 million – instead, it’s more like $3.5 to $4 million. So, the expense of having Ichiro on the roster for 2009 is more like $15.5 to $16 million.

Also, we can’t really do anything but guess at the salaries for Bedard, Hernandez, and Heilman, since they’re arbitration eligible. I put in $8 million, $3 million, and $2 million respectively, and would imagine all the deals will end up in that vicinity, but variation from those numbers would push the remaining room left in the budget up or down a bit.

No matter how you look at it, though, if the M’s target payroll is around $95 million, then they are pretty close to being out of money. That would push them towards the trade market, where they could match salaries in deals to move pieces around. It makes things tougher, but not impossible.

Looking ahead to 2010, the team has about $55 million committed to 17 roster spots (again, guessing at arb salaries for Hernandez, Heilman, and Morrow, who will be arb eligible after 2009). The expiration of contracts for Beltre, Washburn, Batista, Bedard, Chavez, Branyan, and Walker would give the team something like $40-$45 million in budget room next winter, but would also create some pretty substantial holes in the roster. Beltre, especially, isn’t going to be cheap to re-sign or replace, so a good chunk of that money would go to keeping him in Seattle or trying to recoup the wins lost by watching him go elsewhere.

I know signings like Russ Branyan and Tyler Walker aren’t the kind of moves that are going to get people excited, but given the roster that he was left with by his predecessor, if a 20% budget decrease was really ordered, then Zduriencik should get a few gold stars for how well he’s been able to re-make this team without having much capital to spend.


60 Responses to “The Budget”

  1. ThundaPC on January 8th, 2009 3:26 pm

    But everyone and their mom knew that dumping Washburn was a good idea. If you had polled 100 journalists, bloggers, etc. and asked them if dumping Washburn and his contract for nothing make sense, 90 would have said yes. If you asked about trading Raul for less than what you’d get in from his arbitration picks, most people would tell you that was a bad idea for a number of reasons.

    Not making bad trades is good in general. Dumping contracts where the returns are much below the market rate of 1 win per $5M should always be done.

    Believe me, I was 100% behind trading Washburn at the deadline. Hell, even Washburn himself wanted to be traded to the Twins.

    I just understand why Washburn and others were held on to and not simply dumped. Armstrong wanted that to be Zduriencik’s call (pretty much an admission of them not really knowing how to build a good baseball team). Zduriencik chose to make someone like Washburn potentially better by improving the defense.

    To me, focusing on what Zduriencik would do if he had plenty of money is a waste of energy. We’ll be able to find that out as early as next offseason when, as mentioned, roughly $40 Million come off the books. It’s great to know what Zduriencik can do in a pinch. He’s practically overhauled the roster spending peanuts.

  2. Robo Ape on January 8th, 2009 3:55 pm

    @ BLYKMYK44

    I (and Derek) doubt they want the fan base who has continually been fed the idea that spending money equals “trying” to think they’ve stopped trying.

    Are you suggesting that the Mariners have not been trying to win, and that all of the spending they’ve been doing has just been to make it look like they were trying to win? I only ask because of your quotational emphasis on “trying”.

  3. Breadbaker on January 8th, 2009 4:44 pm

    The Silva contract is going to be a Silva-sized anchor around this team for the next four years. The only good thing about it is that the imagery is so fun to play with. The reality, on the other hand, is frightening. It’s like Russ Ortiz, only fatter. And that was someone else’s tsuris.

  4. Alaskan on January 8th, 2009 4:56 pm


    Next three years, you mean. It’s going to fly by, I promise.

  5. Breadbaker on January 8th, 2009 10:26 pm

    It’s going to fly by, I promise.

    Like a large dirigible flies.

  6. DaveValleDrinkNight on January 8th, 2009 11:56 pm

    Maybe I’m wrong here but I think Z is looking at ’11 to contend.

    You dump or let go of Washburn/Bedard/Batista/etc.
    Take the picks, stockpile players in the minors, and pick up sound free-agents that will be key parts of a contender for years to come.

    God forbid you can lure a Braun or Crawford away with the extra money you’ve got from dumping the dead weight.

  7. BobbyAyalaFan4Life on January 9th, 2009 8:31 am

    It’s like Russ Ortiz, only fatter. And that was someone else’s tsuris.

    It’s like Russ Ortiz in fat alone…Ortiz was way better in comparable ages. Until Silva wins 21 games or throws four straight 200+ inning seasons, let’s not bring Ortiz down.
    Silva’s life stats (began at age 23 in 02 with Philly; 7 seasons): 59-61, 4.61 ERA, 1,098.2 IP, 1.40 WHIP, 464 Ks, 203 BB, -4.29 WPA, -4.91 WPA/LI
    Ortiz (began at age 24 with SF in 98; through 2004 for seven season comparison): 103-60, 4.00 ERA, 1,341.2 IP, 1.43 WHIP, 1,004 Ks, 682 BB, 5.35 WPA, 5.24 WPA/LI
    This quick snap shot clearly shwos the only area Silva can even compare at the same ages against Ortiz was walking way fewer batters. If Silva managed to approach those same numbers, then we’d all be a lot happier with him!
    Aaron M.

  8. msb on January 9th, 2009 9:52 am

    FWIW, Kirby Arnold weighs in on the budget with:

    “The Mariners’ payroll in 2009 is expected to be less than $110 million, and close to $90 million of it could be tied up after the team deals with Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard and Aaron Heilman, who all are eligible for arbitration.”

  9. droppedrod on January 9th, 2009 2:57 pm

    Cutting the budget this year strikes me as a shrwed business–and baseball–move. If you assume that the goal of a successful franchise has to be to compete for the World Series and not just make the playoffs, spending big free agent money on a 100-loss-plus team in a weak division makes no sense.

    If the AL West turns out to be as bad as it looks like it might, it is hard to imagine that the division champ will have any real chance to advance in the playoffs. The M’s stand pat, they have an outside chance of winning the division. The alternative is to spend on a free agent and marginally increase that chance. In either case, you are probably still looking at an early October departure from the post season with as little as one home playoff game.

    I would rather see them save $$$ now by cutting payroll, getting a solid core of young players, and then spend money in the free agency market when that money buys more than just increase the chance of another meaningless division title (of which Seattle has plenty).

  10. BLYKMYK44 on January 9th, 2009 3:00 pm

    Are you suggesting that the Mariners have not been trying to win, and that all of the spending they’ve been doing has just been to make it look like they were trying to win? I only ask because of your quotational emphasis on “trying”.

    – Im suggesting that they used their payroll as validation that they were trying to win. So, when the team sucked they had the ability to throw up their hands and say:

    “we’re spending the money necessary to win so keep coming to the game and we’ll figure it out”

    Also, as I think i noted…its been my understanding that the Ms artificially inflate the amount they report as spending on payroll. Again, this is done because they want to imply that spending money on payroll means they really care and are not trying to make a profit off of you when they raise the the beer prices to $79.00 a cup.

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