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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

May 10, 2011 at 7:02 AM

Milton Bradley is the biggest Mariner salary hit

miltonears.jpg

(Seattle Times staff photo by Mike Siegel)

The Mariners have been forced to eat a lot of contracts in the past decade, but they’ve never had a mouthful as big as the sour bite they’re about to take of Milton Bradley’s remaining cash.

Technically, he’s just been designated for assignment, and they have 10 days to try to make some kind of a deal. But you, I and the American people know no one is going to take on Bradley, and he will be released at the end of 10 days. And at that point, the Mariners will be forced to swallow approximately $10 million remaining on Bradley’s contract.

Really, though, they’re eating Carlos Silva’s contract. He’s the one that got them into this mess when he under-performed so badly after receiving his sweet four-year, $48-million deal from Bill Bavasi prior to the 2008 season. Bavasi’s replacement, GM Jack Zduriencik, traded Silva to the Cubs before last season in a desperate attempt to salvage something for Silva, whom was on a path to be released by the Mariners after two disastrous seasons.

They got Bradley, and yesterday’s they got rid of Bradley, who is going to paid his entire $13 million this year whether he plays or not. That’s how it works in baseball, unlike football, where most contracts aren’t guaranteed. (Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the website which has become the go-to place for baseball contracts, lists Bradley’s salary for 2011 as $12 million, but Associated Press, which has the best salary access, lists it as $13 million, so I’m going with that). The season is roughly 20 percent complete, which means Bradley is still owed 80 percent of his contract — $10.4 million, give or take. That doesn’t take into account the money the Mariners were said to have included in the Bradley trade — a total of $9 million going to Chicago, according to reports at the time ($3.5 million last year, $5.5 million this year).

Any way you slice it, it’s another bitter pill to swallow for the Mariners. Here’s some of the other bad contracts they’ve had to ditch:

–On July 10, 2008, they released Richie Sexson, owing him more than $6 million from the final year of the four-year, $50 million contract he received before the 2005 season. Sexson was batting .218 with just 30 RBIs in 74 games

–On Jan. 6, 2004, they traded Jeff Cirillo to the Padres and were reported to have sent about $5 million along in the deal to account for Cirillo’s $6,975,000 salary for 2004. The Mariners had inherited the final three years of Cirillo’s four-year, $29 million contract when they acquired Cirillo in Pat Gillick’s most regrettable transaction, sending Brian Fuentes, among others, to the Rockies. Cirillo, a career .295 hitter, averaged .234 in two Mariner seasons, and none of the players acquired from San Diego — pitcher Kevin Jarvis, catcher Wiki Gonzalez, infielder Dave Hansen or outfielder Vince Faison — made much of an impact.

–On Aug. 9, 2005, the Mariners released Scott Spiezio with another year still remaining on the ill-advised three-year, $9.15-million contract Bavasi gave him prior to the 2004 season. That one cost the Mariners more than $3 million. Spiezio was hitting .064 (3-for-47) when he was released, but went on to win a World Series ring with St. Louis in 2006.

–On April 30, 2008, the Mariners released outfielder Brad Wilkerson and owed him the bulk of the $3 million contract they had signed him to as a free agent. Wilkerson was the Opening Day right fielder (moving Ichiro to center), but hit just .232 with no homers and five runs batted in.

–On July 19, 2004, the Mariners traded Rich Aurilia to the Padres (who had a habit of taking on Mariners mistakes) but essentially dumped the remainder of the $3.5 million they owed him.

–On Aug. 13, 2008, the Mariners released DH Jose Vidro and paid him the remainder of his $8.5 million salary — about $2 million.

–On July 26, 2006, the Mariners cut .227-hitting Carl Everett and owed him the rest of his $4 million for that season (about $1.5 million).

In case you were wondering, the biggest salary hit ever taken by a team was the Arizona Diamondbacks for pitcher Russ Ortiz, whom they still owed $22.5 million when they cut him in June of 2006. That occurred barely a year after the D-Backs gave Ortiz a four-year, $33.5 million contract, for which he produced a 5-16 record.

Kevin Appier was owed $15.7 million by the Angels when they cut him in July of 2003. During spring training this year, the Mets cut Oliver Perez and had to pay him $12 million for 2011 — after already absorbing $6 million from cutting Luis Castillo earlier in spring..

Other notable salary dumps include Gary Sheffield (owed $14 million by the Tigers when they axed him in 2009), Geoff Jenkins (owed $8 million by the Phillies in 2009), Damion Easley ($14.3 million by Detroit, 2003), Jay Gibbons ($11.9 million by Baltimore, 2008), Greg Vaughn ($9.25 by Tampa Bay, 2002), Frank Thomas ($7 million by Toronto, 2008), Matt Williams ($6.6 million by Arizona, 2003).

And now add Milton Bradley to the list.

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