We're going to be wrong on this site. With an evolving staff of writers, we'll occasionally contradict each other, if not ourselves. I may disparage a player's outlook, only to have him prove me wrong three months later, where I then write in optimism towards his future. That's ok. Opinions should change based on new information that arises, and if we're too stubborn to admit our previous mistakes, then we shouldn't be here. In a year, some of the suggestions we made will probably look pretty stupid. Some of our conclusions will prove to be misguided. Hopefully, pessimism will be proven wrong and we'll all celebrate together. We all want the same thing, and it's our goal to provide the best commentary on getting some hardware for this city, without fear of what might look bad in a month.
Back in October, we went out on one of those limbs. I spent countless hours considering the roster needs of this franchise, attempting to come up with moves that were feasible and fit within a realistic budget. Logan, Matt, and Patrick all joined in, resulting in a long night of brainstorming with countless revisions and tweaks after our basic outline. The end product was the 2014 Lookout Landing Offseason Plan, and the way the winter unfolded mirrored our suggestions in some ways, and didn't in others. With the offseason just about over, it feels like time to revisit the suggestions we made compared to what actually happened.
Sign SP Masahiro Tanaka to a 6 year, $70 million deal after submitting a $66 million posting fee.
The plan dated itself almost immediately, as the new posting agreement in December capped the posting fee at $20 million. The delays in getting the deal approved changed the entire free agent landscape, and since Tanaka was the centerpiece of the plan, waiting around for him with so many teams available to submit full bids made the plan implode. After the changes, Tanaka wouldn't have been the center piece anymore, simply because the M's couldn't have blown out the competition with our suggested $66 million posting fee.
Regardless, Tanaka signed a $155 million contract with the Yankees, not including the $20 million posting fee. The total cost of our suggested investment was $136 million, a full $39 million short of the $175 million investment the Yankees sunk into Tanaka. For as attractive of a target as Tanaka was combined with the Mariners need for another starting pitcher, this was well above what we viewed to be a responsible offer for Tanaka.
This was the most contested move of the plan, and understandably so. Suggesting the Tigers part with two important pieces of their currently-contesting window was bold, but we identified several crucial needs of the Tigers -- a second baseman and a closer, to go along with a surplus of starting pitching and a need to reduce salary in hopes of future extensions for Max Scherzer and eventually, Miguel Cabrera.
So what did they do? Part with two important pieces and shed salary. The Tigers traded for a second baseman in Ian Kinsler and gained salary relief by dealing Prince Fielder for him. They signed a closer in Joe Nathan for $20 million and gifted Doug Fister to the Nationals for a handful of peanuts (Stephen Lombardozzi, Ian Krol, and Robbie Ray). The Tigers solved their problems other ways.
In retrospect, it would have been more prudent to eliminate Jackson from the plan and target Fister with Franklin instead, but nobody really believed the Tigers would part with Fister as opposed to Porcello, and the Mariners desperately needed outfielder upgrades which they failed to acquire. Hindsight is 20/20, but the Tigers made one of the worst deals of the offseason, at least for now.
Here's a player the Mariners really could have used, a wildly undervalued true center fielder who left LA in exchange for David Freese. The Mariners didn't exactly have a Freese equivalent to trade, a veteran whose production was more concrete than this offer, but the Angels didn't exactly do enough to fix their starting pitching either. Even at the cost of Freese, this still feels like it would have been a fair offer for a player who was an ideal fit.
For all of the trade rumors surrounding Duda and Ike Davis, the Mets have so far decided to hang on to both of them. Duda, while he made sense in a platooned role in our plan, simply would not fit with this roster anymore. Both the Mariners and the Mets kept their guys at first.
Sign 1B/DH Corey Hart to a 2 year, $16 million contract.
While we were willing to go two years on Hart, I was surprised he eventually inked for a one year deal with a base salary of $6 million, though that can go a lot higher with incentives (up to $13 million). In valuation, it isn't that far off from a guaranteed $16 million over two years, but Hart gets the chance to hit a weak free agent market for hitters next year instead.
It's worth noting that we only considered Hart as a 1B/DH, and wrote the plan around it as such. While I was thrilled the Mariners matched our vision in signing him, running him in the outfield while placing him with two other 1B/DH in Logan Morrison and Justin Smoak never seemed like a good idea on those knees. Now, it seems Hart will at least open as the season's primary DH, and hopefully he'll stay there in an attempt to maximize his health and offensive production, which is really what this move was all about.
The Mariners blocked their own ability to trade Justin Smoak for anything of immediate value when they shipped off Carter Capps for Logan Morrison. The market for former top prospect reclamation projects in their arbitration years had been set, and Brian Matusz is a lot better, with more future potential, than Carter Capps.
Sign 2B/OF Kelly Johnson to a 1 year, $3 million contract.
This looks pretty silly right about now, seeing as how the last thing the Mariners need is yet another second baseman. But nobody had any idea the Mariners would sign Robinson Cano, and the idea behind Johnson was that he could act as Dustin Ackley insurance, since we planned to trade away Nick Franklin. Good in theory, but Cano shot this down. Johnson ended up signing for exactly 1 year, $3 million. At least we nailed the valuation.
Re-sign RP Oliver Perez to a 2 year, $6 million contract.
Perez waited until March to sign, and ended up only getting $4.25 million over two years from Arizona. I remain completely baffled as to why the Mariners didn't pony up and get this deal done at this rate, given his performances the last two seasons and the team's relative uncertainty in the bullpen. If this was a result of penny pinching, that's a shame. The Mariners may really regret passing him up over a few million dollars, and the Diamondbacks got themselves a steal. Perez is worth more than he got.
Sign SP Scott Baker to a 1 year, $1.5 million contract with performance incentives up to $4 million.
The Mariners were able to get Baker on a minor league deal without guarantees, and they made the right call. Baker's control was terrible and he couldn't miss any bats in spring, as I discussed yesterday. Projected to be the #6 starter in our plan, Baker was the guy who could step in if somebody got hurt, and two people did. Instead, the Mariners made him their #5 guy, and two injuries left him as the projected #3 before his eventual release.
Baker was a savvy flier to take and I loved the move when it happened. Still, it's a bullet dodged that the team didn't offer him the $1.5 million we suggested.
Sign C Geovany Soto to a 1 year, $4 million contract.
The idea behind acquiring Soto was to take some pressure off Zunino while potentially adding a good right-handed DH/PH bat after Zunino resumed full catching duties. Instead, he returned to Texas for a one year, $3 million contract almost immediately after we posted the plan. Texas got a good deal, but Soto is now sidelined for up to three months with a torn meniscus.
Sign SS Brendan Ryan to a 1 year, $1.5 million contract.
Once you let somebody go, it's hard to get them back after they get a new group of friends in a new organization. Ryan returned to the Yankees for a 2 year, $5 million deal, in what is easily a better situation for him. This was a lowball figure that offered a limited role. In retrospect, it shouldn't have been part of the plan.
Give spring training invitations to RP Mark Lowe, RP Ryan Rowland-Smith, and RP Shawn Camp.
Hyphen ended up in Arizona but isn't expected to crack the opening day roster, although he did get to make the trip to Australia. Mark Lowe got scooped up by the Rays, and Shawn Camp signed with the Phillies. None of these players got major league deals.
The platoon boys moved on elsewhere, as Gomez packed up to try his luck in Japan, which is easily a better career choice for the right-handed lefty-masher. Peterson ended up with the Nationals and has been re-assigned to minor league camp.