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The Mariners' TV Contract Situation Is Better Than I Thought

Not long ago, the Los Angeles Angels signed Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson on the same Thursday morning. You remember, it was awful. We knew the Angels had money to throw around, but we didn't know the Angels had that kind of money to throw around, and it came out shortly thereafter that the Angels were supported by a new 20-year TV deal they'd negotiated worth $3 billion. The Angels had an existing TV deal, Arte Moreno opted out of it, and then he secured a way more awesome TV deal.

When that news came out, I reviewed the landscape of TV deals in the AL West. As you'll recall, I wrote that the Mariners were tied to a ten-year deal with FSN Northwest worth $450 million through 2020. That's not a bad contract, but the money pales in comparison to the money in the Angels' new contract, and in the Rangers' new contract.

Well, now I have good news. The Mariners won't have to wait until 2021 to begin a new, more lucrative deal. As Fanshotted earlier and as originally written at Forbes, it turns out the Mariners' contract with FSN Northwest or ROOT Sports or whatever contains an opt-out clause after the 2015 season. That's the halfway point. The Mariners can and probably will opt out and negotiate a substantially bigger deal.

What kind of deal? That's hard to say now, but the quoted Forbes source goes with "at least $70 million a year," which would be a step up. That would be comparable to the Rangers' contract, and while the Angels' contract would still leave the Mariners in the dust, they'd be choking down less dust, and, of course, the Angels should have the bigger contract, given the market size. The source says that the Mariners could probably squeeze a healthy sum out of Fox because Fox wouldn't want to lose the Mariners' broadcast rights to Comcast.

The subject of broadcast rights is not a very interesting one. It is surely interesting to some, but to few. What most sports fans care about is their teams getting good players and winning. A bigger TV contract would provide the Mariners with more money. If the Mariners have more money, they will be more able to get and keep good players, which would help them win. Even though the subject matter here is unexciting, hey, all right, more money. What's good for the Mariners is good for us, and having this opt-out clause is good for the Mariners.