$85 million. Roughly, that is what the Mariners will dole out in player payroll this season. That's down from the peak of ~$120 million during Bill Bavasi's Charge of the Light Headed in 2008. It is also down slightly from the payrolls during most of the Zduriencik tenure. Cot's Contracts has the Mariners averaging $95 million from 2009-11. Baseball-Reference has it at $91 million.
With home attendance currently down another thousand per game, I have little hope of seeing a push back to a nine-figure mark in salaries for next season, but with sentiment growing against austerity on the payroll, the Mariners might also be hard pressed to lower payroll any further. So for now, until I begin to credibly hear otherwise, I'll assume the 2013 payroll will be around the same $85 million.
Felix Hernandez! $64.3 million left.
Chone Figgins, last year! Last year! $55.8 million left.
Franklin Gutierrez, hopefully earned on the field. $48.5 million left.
Danny Hultzen's draft deal could have the Mariners budgeting in 2013. $46.8 million left.
Dustin Ackley, ditto above. $45.3 million left.
Miguel Olivo, has a team option that must be paid off to go away. $44.5 million left.
Those are the guaranteed contracts. There are two players entering third-year arbitration, Jason Vargas and Brendan Ryan. Vargas' projected arbitration signing was $8 million a few weeks back, but I think he'll improve somewhat down the stretch and end up around the $9 million. Better to overestimate anyways. Brendan Ryan, coming off a $1.75 million salary and hitting as he has is both unlikely to receive a Gold Glove or a substantial raise via arbitration. I'll assume $3 million.
Both of those, by the way, are fair values on their own. Given that they're only one-year commitments*, they're very solid investments.
*barring, of course, either signing a multi-year deal
$32.5 million left.
Two other players are entering their first year of arbitration, Shawn Kelley and John Jaso. Kelley has been good, but doesn't have the saves to really bank leverage in arbitration and Jaso, good year and all, is a part-time platoon player with recent failure. I'm guessing, but a combined $4 million for the two seems unlikely to be a gross under-estimate. $28.5 million left.
There'll probably be another $10 million in club-controlled costs to fill out the roster. $18.5 million left.
Over the next four to six months we will have many discussions about where the Mariners could, and where we individually think they should attempt to, spend that money. We'll also get better and more accurate estimates of how much cash they actually have and who might be available. But unless there's something missing either above or in the future, the Mariners will have some money to play with. I suggest they play with it by spending it on Major League players. Or giving it to me.