A full month before camp opens is as good a time as any to take a look at a possible opening day 25-man roster for the Seattle Mariners - and estimate what the team will spend to put it on the field.
There are fewer question marks than you might think. Go with the known quantities, toss in a bit of speculation and the roster comes together.
Payroll is a bit tougher to figure precisely. For one thing, five key players - Felix Hernandez, Casey Kotchman, David Aardsma, Mark Lowe and Brandon League - are arbitration eligible. And then, there's the $5.5 million the Mariners will send to Chicago for Carlos Silva and another $1 million to Kansas City for Yuniesky Betancourt. That's $6.5 million out the door before you put a player on the field.
Still, figure this as your roster:
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Catchers (2): Rob Johnson and Adam Moore.
Infielders (4): Kotchman, Jose Lopez, Chone Figgins, Jack Wilson.
Outfelders (3): Ichiro Suzuki, Franklin Gutierrez, Milton Bradley.
Rotation (5): Hernandez, Cliff Lee, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Ian Snell and Jason Vargas.
Bullpen (7): Aardsma, Lowe, League, Sean White, Shawn Kelley, Garrett Olson, Yusmeiro Petit.
DH (1): Ken Griffey Jr.
Reserves (3): Michael Saunders, Jack Hannahan, Ryan Langerhans.
Other than the fifth starter, one bullpen arm and a bench job or two, that's almost certainly the roster as presently constituted. What's it going to cost?
Figure at least $88 million - with those arbitration cases looming large in the final totals. If every eligible player gets to arbitration and wins - and each had a solid season in 2009 - the Mariners might well be into the $90-million-plus range.
A year ago, they spent $98 million and won 85 games. To put that in perspective, the Tigers spent $115 million and won 86 games. The Cubs spent $134 million and won 83, and the Yankees won 103 games - with a payroll of $201 million.
At the moment, the Mariners have some money left to play with should they pursue a trade for a hitter, for instance, or go after a veteran starting pitcher.
But not much.
Setting aside what they may wind up putting into their arbitration cases, the Mariners probably have about $6 million of wiggle room - and not much salary they can move in a deal.
And now, a few links:
- Tom Glavine remains a free agent without a team, and at age 44 has one offer - to join the Atlanta Braves broadcast group. He's mulling it over.
- Wonder what Aardsma may make in arbitration? San Diego closer Heath Bell made $1.25 million last season, saved 42 games and just settled for $4 million.
- Someone is going to have to explain why Adam LaRoche turned down a two-year $17.5 million deal with the Giants last week, then signed a one-year contract for $5 million with the Diamondbacks.
- The Phillies could start their season without closer Brad Lidge, who had a second knee surgery of the off-season. Lidge, J.C. Romero (elbow) and Jamie Moyer (knee) could all miss part of April post-op.
- Boston's John Lackey says he became a confident pitcher when, as a rookie in 2002, Angels manager Mike Scioscia started him on short rest in Game 7 of the World Series. Yes, he won.