Writing about the Mariners is always difficult in October. There's baseball, but not our baseball. Other teams are playing, yet there's an obligation to write about our own. It's not a surprise things have slowed down around here over the past month, and now that we're finally into the proper offseason, things will once again heat up. There will be plenty of rumors, news, and real, live transactions that the Mariners will make. They'll make them, and we'll react.
Last year, we preempted this barrage of news by spending hours upon hours crafting an offseason plan, one that I'm still very proud of. The Mariners actually ended up making a handful of the moves we suggested, and while nobody could have seen a Robinson Cano bombshell coming, the plan was still a comprehensive set of circumstances that we could stand behind as something that could actually happen.
It's all quite fun, really. Playing with fake money, trading around players as pure assets, as if there are no other factors at play. Assuming we can view a player based on his physical skillset and accomplishments, making conclusions based only on the information we're allowed. Making those assumptions is a lot easier to do when transactions are viewed in isolation, reacting to things that are rumored to happen or may actually happen. Things that have real legs, no matter how wobbly they may be. Coming up with a cohesive plan that requires us to conclude things that we cannot possibly know is a different story.
Beyond the Mariners suddenly ponying up $240 million for one of the richest deals in baseball history, the Nelson Cruz saga put everything into perspective about just how challenging this can be. From our stance against signing him at a cost that proved to be way off, to rumors of a five-year deal on the table, to his eventual "wait that's it?" signing with the Orioles, there are signings that fall through the cracks. Ones that are impossible to predict. If we proposed an offseason plan that had Cano at $240 million and Cruz at 1 year, $7.5 million, we would have been mocked relentlessly for such an unrealistic and irresponsible article.
The point is, suggesting a cohesive set of moves that all make sense at reasonable costs to acquire is very difficult. This year, it's even more difficult to suggest what the Mariners should do. Many of us have spent hours attempting to figure out how the Mariners can get over the top without damaging the long-term future of the club, all while managing payroll at a modest, yet reasonable upgrade.
We have considerably more voices than we did last year. When it comes to attempting to hammer out a consensus opinion, that's a challenging thing. A three-hour brainstorming chat was met with three solid conclusions -- extend Kyle Seager, dump Justin Smoak, and sign Chris Capuano. That is what we have for you. We're batting .333!
Other names have been thrown around without a final consensus, because how they fit on the roster is conditional on what other moves are made. Scott Van Slyke, Shane Victorino, Jason Hammel, Brandon McCarthy, and Jonny Gomes were all named as potential additions. Where do they all fit? Who stays in AAA as depth, and who gets sold off for help elsewhere? Does this team have enough budget to make a huge splash like Victor Martinez? If they do, does it eat up all of the available money? Is it even a good idea? When the first domino falls, what happens to the rest? Last year, our plan was blown up almost immediately when significant changes were made to the international posting system. If we'd known that before we published, the entire plan might have looked different, positioned around a different centerpiece.
This year, there really hasn't been a centerpiece in our discussions. We can't come to agreement on Victor Martinez, and we've generally agreed that the price for Yasmani Tomas looks like it will exceed the risk he comes with. Then again, we're basing this on whispers and tweets that we believe to be true. If Tomas somehow only gets $40 million, we'll probably regret not suggesting him. Again, operating under assumptions and nothing else.
So this year, there won't be an offseason plan, at least not in the way it existed last year. We'll continue to operate the same way we always have as the news and rumors start to cascade down. It's a lot easier to pretend we know everything when rumors or moves come in one by one rather than all at once. The good thing about having so many voices now is that we'll be able present better, deeper cases for players that came up as good ideas in our brainstorming. Suggestions to acquire a player will make sense in context given the then-current landscape of free agents, the trade market, and the roster. Instead of a plan that will be dated and inaccurate in a week, we'll be focused on what's right in front of us, one by one. Like a real front office has to do.
I know many of you were looking forward to something all at once, and I'm sorry this isn't the post you were waiting for. I hope my explanation provides little insight on where we're coming from this year.
I don't envy the task the Mariners have in front of them over the next several weeks. It's going to be extremely difficult to get this team over the hump without bringing up payroll considerably or sacrificing major talent. We may be critical of what they decide to do, but after all the lessons learned in the past two seasons, it will come with a lot more perspective.