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Seattle Mariners: Contracts and Financial Overview

2011 payroll: $94,623,191


Free Agent-eligible

Ichiro Suzuki: $18,000,000
Chone Figgins: $9,500,000
Jack Wilson: $5,000,000
Miguel Olivo: $2,500,000
Jack Cust*: $2,500,000
Erik Bedard: $1,000,000
Chris Ray*+: $1,000,000
Jamey Wright+: $900,000
Adam Kennedy+: $750,000
Luis Rodriguez*+: $600,000

*Non-tendered with less than 6 years of major-league service.
+Minor-league deal.

Ichiro has been in the big leagues for 10 years. Ten years! That seems difficult to believe, but it's true. He's spent all ten years with the Mariners and he's on his third contract with them. This one was a 5-year, $90 million pact that pays him $17 million/year with a $5 million signing bonus. $25 million of the deal is deferred until after he retires at 5% interest. Chone Figgins signed a 4-year, $36 million deal with the Mariners when he was first eligible for free agency. The deal includes a $9 million option for 2014 that vests with 600 PA's in 2013.

Wilson was acquired from the Pirates while he was in the last year of a 3-year contract that started in 2007. The deal included an $8.4 million club option for 2010, but the Mariners re-structured the deal guaranteeing him $10 million over 2 years rather than exercising the option. Olivo signed a 2-year, $7 million deal as a free agent this past offseason, the deal includes a $3 million club option with a $750,000 buyout. Bedard signed a 1-year, non-guaranteed deal worth $1 million that includes $6.35 million in performance-based incentives. Wright signed a minor-league deal that pays him a pro-rated portion of $900,00 for his time in the big leagues, he was added to Seattle's active roster before the start of the season. Adam Kennedy also signed a minor-league deal, his pays him a pro-rated portion of $750,000 for his time in the majors and includes $425,000 in playing-time incentives. Kennedy had the right to request a release if he wasn't on the opening day roster, but he was also added to the active roster before the start of the season.

Ray, Rodriguez, and Cust were all non-tendered by their former clubs this past winter. Rodriguez and Ray had to settle for minor-league deals, while Cust got $2.5 million guaranteed. All three made Seattle's opening day roster. The Mariners can retain Cust and Rodriguez as arbitration-eligible players in 2012.


Felix Hernandez: $11,700,000
David Aardsma: $4,500,000
Franklin Gutierrez: $4,312,500
Jason Vargas: $2,450,000
Brandon League: $2,250,000
Brendan Ryan: $1,000,000

One year from now Felix Hernandez won't belong in this category--he already has over 5 years of major-league service. He turned 25 years old just over a month ago and already has 75 major-leauge wins. If I had to place a bet on any active, major-league player under the age of 30 making it to the hall of fame, I'd put my money on King Felix. Realizing they're dealing with a historic talent, the Mariners locked Felix up to a 5-year, $78 million extension last January. Right now, the extension looks really, really good for Seattle. Hernandez will have 3-years, $58 million coming to him after this year, when he otherwise would have been eligible for free agency. I'd estimate he would have earned at the least three times as much guaranteed if he were hitting the open market after this year. Teams don't get to bid on inner-circle hall of fame talents before they turn 26 years old very often.

Aardsma signed a 1-year, $4.5 million deal to avoid arbitration this offseason. He's under team control for one year beyond 2011 as an arbitration-eligible player, but he's looking like a non-tender candidate right now--currently on the DL and yet to throw a pitch this year. Franklin Gutierrez signed a 4-year, $20.25 million contract before he went to arbitration. The deal includes a $7.5 million club option for 2014 with a $500,000 buyout. 2011 is Jason Vargas' first year of arbitration-eligibility. The Mariners settled with him for $2.45 million and he'll remain under team control through the 2013 season as an arbitration-eligible player. League will make one more trip through the arbitration process before he is eligible for free agency. This year he settled for $2.25 million on a 1-year deal. After being acquired from the Cardinals Brendan Ryan signed a 2-year, $2.75 million deal with Seattle. The contract includes $1.15 million in playing-time incentives. He'll remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player in 2013.


Dustin Ackley: $1,500,000
Doug Fister: $436,000
Aaron Laffey: $431,600
David Pauley: $422,000
Shawn Kelley: $420,000
Michael Saunders: $420,000
Justin Smoak: $419,500
Adam Moore: $419,500
Matt Mangini: $419,500
Michael Pineda: $419,500
Jeff Gray: $419,500
Chris Gimenez: $419,500
Carlos Peguero: $419,500
Mike Wilson: $419,500

Ackley is yet to see the majors, yet he's the highest paid pre-arbitration-eligible Mariner. His first pro contract was a 5-year, $7.5 million big-league deal. He'll remain under the Mariners team control at least through the 2016 season.

Commitments to former players

Yuniesky Betancourt: $1,000,000
Milton Bradley: $13,333,333
Carlos Silva: $5,500,000
Josh Wilson: $179,258

Wilson was released at the end of Spring training, so the Mariners had to pay him 45 days termination pay. Silva was dealt to the Cubs for Milton Bradley, both players were released by their new team this year. Yuniesky Betancourt was dealt to the Royals in July of 2009 before the Brewers took him off the Royals' hands in the Zack Greinke deal.

2012 Contracts

The Mariners have $59,513,000 guaranteed to players in 2012, most of which is owed to Ichiro Suzuki, Felix Hernandez, Chone Figgins, and Franklin Gutierrez. Miguel Olivo, Dustin Ackley, and Brendan Ryan are also guaranteed money from Seattle in 2012. They have a seven arbitration-eligible players: Jack Cust, David Aardsma, Jason Vargas, Brandon League, Luis Rodriguez, Aaron Laffey, and Shawn Kelley. We could see many of these players non-tendered. Jack Wilson, Chris Ray, Erik Bedard, Jamey Wright, and Adam Kennedy are their only free agents.

Just by having the Bradley and Silva expenses off their books, the Mariners should have a lot of payroll flexibility in 2012. Even after arbitration raises to the players they do end up keeping, they should have at least $10-$20 million to play with. Their best pre-arb players (Smoak, Pineda, Ackley) are at least a year away from arbitration-eligibility, so they don't have to worry about a significant first-time arbitration raise this year. For the past 4 years they've operated at about $80-$90 million. They could continue to do so, though they pick second overall in the upcoming June rule 4 draft, so perhaps they'll scale their 2012 payroll back a bit to compensate for the cost of signing their 2nd overall pick.


2012 is the last year of Ichiro Suzuki's contract and he turns 38 years old in October of this year. Whether or not the Mariners bring him back for his age 39 season will be something to monitor, it's probably the biggest question the Mariners will face other than who to select in the upcoming draft. It's clear the Mariners intend to build around Justin Smoak, Michael Pineda, Dustin Ackley, and Felix Hernandez, with Chone Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez serving as good-gloved complementary players. Brendan Ryan should hold down the fort at SS until Nick Franklin is ready, but their farm system lacks other impact talent that's remotely close to ready. Who they select in the draft will really dictate how their team will look going forward.

This team isn't far away from contention, with a pair of aces at the top of their rotation and a few very good position players either on their active roster or close to it. They could use a mid-rotation starter or two and for Michael Saunders to take a step forward, because with Milton Bradley gone their LF situation is kind of a mess.

See also: Cot's Baseball Contracts: Seattle Mariners