Armstrong says Mariners won’t be big spenders
Mariners president Chuck Armstrong called some of Major League Baseball’s initial free-agent spending this offseason “astounding” while noting Seattle isn’t in position to throw that kind of cash around at this week’s Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
That should come as no big surprise, given the well-documented fact that the Mariners have close to $60 million already designated for six players on a 2011 payroll that Armstrong confirmed won’t go below last year’s figure of $94 million.
Armstrong said the club will be better positioned next year in free agency, given expiring contracts to several players. Milton Bradley’s $12 million this year is the last of his contract and Jack Wilson’s $5 million-a-year deal ends as well.
But Armstrong admitted he was taken off guard by some of the early free-agent signings. He didn’t name names, but certainly the Washington Nationals’ seven-year, $126-million deal with Jayson Werth has raised eyebrows in the current economy.
“I’m trying to figure it out,” Armstrong said. “I think it’s kind of astounding. Hindsight will prove whether they’re good [contracts] or not. They usually prove not to be. But all it takes is one team and teams have their own needs.
“I really don’t want to cast aspersions on anyone else. We all have our own budgets and know what we can work with. You have to feel comfortable with what you’re obligating your franchise to take on.”
As for the Mariners, Armstrong said Seattle’s budget won’t be affected by the early escalation and appreciates that ownership has allowed the team to keep its payroll steady despite projections of a “pretty big loss” in 2011 based on declining ticket revenues coming off a 101-loss season.
Armstrong said the Mariners are hardly skimping, given the size of the team’s payroll, a large signing bonus that will be owed with the No. 2 pick in next June’s Draft and some international signings as well.
“We’ll be spending a lot of money this year,” he said. “It usually takes 5 to 7 years to matriculate through the system.”
So, no, the Mariners won’t jump into the Carl Crawford sweepstakes. As as been stated all along, Jack Zduriencik will attempt to add a few veterans in the right places through free agency and trades.
There’ll be no Monopoly money contracts handed out by the Mariners this year, but ownership has agreed to absorb whatever losses emerge this season.
“We don’t have much flexibility now,” Armstrong said. “If we had to reduce it, we might have had to do some things that might have been damaging in the long run. We’re not involved in any kind of salary dump. I’m grateful for us having the ownership to do that.”