By Josh Spaht
Out of all the 30 teams in Major League Baseball, you could argue that the Seattle Mariners have had the most interesting off-seasons of them all. After finishing with a 71 win 91 loss season, good enough for 4th place out of 5 teams in the American League West division, the Mariners have been making moves left and right to become a competitive team in 2014.
The biggest acquisition by far this off-season for the Mariners has been that of second baseman Robinson Cano. In Cano’s 9 major league seasons, he has posted a career. 309 batting average, hit over 200 home runs, and has been elected to 5 All-Star games. Cano finalized a 10 year $240 million contract with the Mariners.
The Mariners have also signed several other players, including Logan Morrison, Corey Hart, John Buck, Fernando Rodney and Randy Wolf. Corey Hart, who did not play in 2013 due to injury, hit 87 combined home runs in the last three seasons he has played. Logan Morrison hit 23 home runs in 2011, but battled for playing time during his career with Miami.
Fernando Rodney is another interesting player the Mariners have acquired. Rodney, a closer, saved 37 games in 2013 and 48 in 2012. Rodney had a rough beginning to the 2013 season and ended the year with 3.38 ERA. His ERA in 2012, in which he pitched 8 more innings than 2013, was 0.60. The slide between the two seasons made for a smaller market on the closer, giving the Mariners a potentially great opportunity that they took a chance on.
The Mariners have made big signings on more than just players; they also hired a new manager. Lloyd McClendon, former manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2001 to 2005, was named the next manager for the Mariners this offseason. McClendon also was the Tigers’ hitting and bullpen coach for a short time and is known for some on field antics when disputing with umpires.
The most interesting part of the Mariners’ off-season might actually be who they haven’t signed yet. The Mariners are being mentioned as strong candidates for 3 big name players who are still on the market. The biggest of the three is Nelson Cruz. In 2013 Cruz hit 27 home runs in only 109 games. Bob Dutton of the Tacoma Tribune said that a contract between the Mariners and Cruz was only “a matter of time.” The other two players, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, are both potential ace starting pitchers. Whether or not the Mariners are truly in talks with either is not known, however.
Senior at North, Kristian Taylor, says, “I don’t think the Mariners will be competitive in the West next year, but they will in the next 5 years.”
No matter how many big signings the Mariners have had so far, they are still missing a piece or two to become a postseason competitive team. The potential acquisition of Nelson Cruz could end up being that missing piece. Whether the Mariners finally return to the playoffs or not, you can count on a much more competitive team, and a much more satisfied fan base.