A few folks asked last week about the Seattle Mariners payroll - what it might be for 2012, and what general manager Jack Zduriencik might have left to spend on the opening day roster.
It's expected the team will spend about what it did a year ago - $94. That's midle of the pack money amongst baseball's 30 teams, and $44.5 million of it will go to Ichiro Suzuki, Felix Hernandez and Chone Figgins.
The other question last week: How much do the Mariners have left to spend?
Well, signing Japanese starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma will get $1.5 million and reliever George Sherrill another $1.1. million, bargain prices in this winters free agent market. Two Mariners, Brandon League and Jason Vargas, will likely double their 2011 salaries via arbitration - or settlement - which would eat another $10 million, all told.
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The best guess seems to be that, as of this moment, the Mariners have about $14 million left to spend. That's not bad, of course, but it's not Prince Fielder money, not unless Scott Boras suddenly loses his horns and turns sane. And no one has come forward willing to assume more than about a million from Figgins' $9 million deal.
Other than Fielder, who is still on the market and in price range for Seattle? Plenty - though you may not like the list.
Hitters like Hideki Matsui, Maglio Ordonez, Johnny Damon, Luke Scott, Vladimir Guerrero, Carlos Guillen and Casey Kotchman remain available, though fans with the hearts since on Prince aren't likely to like the options.
So here's the question: If the Mariners cannot land Fielder, what would you use the $14 million left on the payroll to land, if you were Jack Z?