Kyle Seager is one of the most beloved Mariners over the last 10 years, a shining beacon in a sea of misery while countless other Mariner position player prospects have floundered. Seager has developed into one of the best third basemen in the league, improving every single year and capping off his best offensive season in 2014 with a gold glove award. While this might have been a lot cheaper a year before -- like, a lot -- it's happening now.
Jeff Passan from Yahoo Sports reports that Seager and the Mariners are close to a 7 year, $100 million extension that would keep Seager in Seattle through the 2021 season, if not longer. The deal is pending a physical. Passan also reports that the deal carries an 8th year team option that could be worth up to $20 million, based on escalators. Seager will earn an average of $14.29 million over the next seven years. It buys out three of his arbitration years and four of free agency, meaning Seager will be a Mariner through his age 33 season.
Seager's agent did very well here, getting nine figures for his client when he might have only gotten half that -- if that -- a year before. It's nearly twice the money Jason Kipnis received before the 2014 season, as he only received 6 years, $52.5 million -- and the deal came at the same age, despite having one more year of pre-free agency years to buy out. Seager's agent parlayed his career year, track record, and continued improvement into something far, far bigger. A year and a half ago, I suggested the Mariners sign him to a five year, $35.5 million extension. 16 months later, and the cost has nearly tripled. That's the price of waiting, but waiting is also the benefit of erasing doubt, if there ever was any. There certainly isn't now, as Seager was a borderline star in 2014. Now he's a Mariner for a very, very long time.
Seager joins Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez as the third Mariner with a nine-figure payroll commitment. There's no complaints about this particular deal because there's no concerns about the quality of the player, though it's unquestionably steep, given the comps. The deal keeps Seager around through his entire prime and theoretically some years that won't be major decline years, and it solidifies that half of the Mariner infield is going to be the same for the next seven years. both of whom happen to be stars -- even if only one has been fully recognized as one.
Depending on how the deal is structured, this will add a good amount of payroll to the 2015 Mariners, as Seager was about to enter arbitration for the first time. Essentially, as broken down by Steve Adams at MLBTR, if you estimate Seager's 3-year arbitration total at $27-30 million, then the Mariners are buying four years of free agency at $17.5 to $18.25 million. I think those arbitration estimates are too low given Seager's continued improvement (and accolades), but the free agent years are a reasonable price to pay when viewed in context.
Now that this is out of the way, the Mariners have no more restrictions on this offeseason. They very likely know how much more they can spend, and there's a good chance it may have just shrunk a little bit. The extension is wildly crucial to the future of the M's, but in a way, it almost hurts then in 2015. It depends on whether or not the Mariners are truly committed to stepping payroll up to give this team the other upgrades they need. At the least, Kevin Mather is already delivering on his promises to spend more money.
It's time to party. If Seager continues on his current career path, it seems highly likely that he'll be worth this deal, even if it does seem fairly expensive. This is how the Mariners need to continue to do things, developing their own talent and keeping them in-house before they exit -- if they're worth it. Kyle Seager most certainly is, and Jack Zduriencik's greatest draft pick is now ours for seven more years. Chant it. Sing it. Thanks for staying home, Boss.