Fighting For Scraps
Yestrerday, Chuck Armstrong confirmed what everyone had assumed going into the winter – the payroll will be about the same as it was last year, meaning that our projections that the team has about $10 million or so to spend should be about right. If they move Aardsma, they might have something more like $14 million. Their total spending allowance this winter is going to be somewhere in that range.
The problem is that we’re seeing prices go crazy right now, so $10 million may not buy what we thought it would a few weeks ago. Ty Wigginton just got a two year deal at $4 million a year this morning, and Ty Wigginton is terrible. Even beyond the Jayson Werth contract, we’re seeing significant inflation for marginal players. It looks like we might be back to a market where a mediocre bench player costs a few million bucks, and even lousy everyday players are getting deals that would eat up half of the money the team has to spend. Given that the Mariners really need to acquire at least three or four players, that’s a huge problem.
So, if you’re wondering why the M’s are in on guys like Gregg Zaun, blame the market. Until all these teams blow through their cash and everything calms down, the M’s simply aren’t going to be able to make a reasonable signing. A quality DH isn’t going to take less money than Wigginton just got right now – they’re going to need to come to the reality that it might be one of the last few jobs available this winter. Much like Russell Branyan had the market set in on him late, the Mariners are probably going to need to have a guy find himself unemployed in January before they are able to get someone to agree to a deal on their terms.
Barring a trade, this is probably going to be a pretty boring week for the M’s. The shift in the market has made it impractical for them to try to land a starter in free agency right now.