Mariners Insider Blog

Economy - and bad deals - handcuff the Mariners

Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News did a little research this week and came up with a look at how the economy is affecting major league baseball.

"Seven of the teams that were among the top nine payrolls on Opening Day last year are looking at lesser payrolls in 2009 - the No. 1 Yankees, No. 3 Tigers, No. 4 Red Sox, No. 5 White Sox, No. 6 Angels, No. 7 Dodgers and No. 9 Mariners. The Dodgers could fall as much as $30 million from last year's $118.6 million."

In all, he found 15 teams are cutting payroll for 2009.

No, teams aren't crying foul or blaming the union, they're simply reacting to reality. And reality doesn't help the Seattle Mariners.

Sure, they're trying to cut back on the $118 million spent in 2008. Aren't we all trying?

What the trend in baseball means, however, is that dumping the salary-heavy players the Mariners would love to trade has become impossible. Jarrrod Washburn, at $10 million, was the target of the Yankees and Twins last August.

No more. Now, $10 million for a No. 4 or No. 5 starter is a no go. It's the same with Miguel Batista ($9 million).

New general manager Jack Zduriencik inherited more than a 101-loss team, he came into contracts that locked him into players this season he'd rather not have – think Carlos Silva (three more years, $34 million) and Kenji Johjima (three years, $24 million).

Moving them now is impossible, even if he agreed to eat, say, half those deals. And no, the Mariners aren't going to release those guys.

Instead, the team will try to get as much out of each of those players as possible and, like all of us, hope for an economic turnaround.

They're stuck. And $38 million in salaries – more than a third of their payroll - will go to four players the Mariners would rather not have.