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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

April 6, 2009 at 8:49 AM

Mariners under $100 million

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Geoff Baker Live! will be on at noon today, right after Larry Stone does his live text chat at 11 a.m. on The Hot Stone League blog. All live, all the time today. We’ve cleared up yesterday’s glitches and are ready to roll! Lots to talk about, obviously. Can’t wait.
Opening day is finally here, and as you can see, it’s a beautiful sunny day outside in Minneapolis. Of course, the M’s are playing indoors, so that doesn’t matter too much. But it’s still nice to have sunshine for any opener. Haven’t seen that in Seattle the past couple of years. It actually snowed on fans in the bleachers at Safeco Field last season.
Anyhow, USA Today does its annual salary review prior to the start of each season and the M’s have clocked in at $98.9 million. That leaves them 10th highest in baseball. Just breaking into the top tier. Now, it’s obviously down from the $120 million or so the M’s finished last season with, but not quite as low as some envisioned. This ownership is still spending quite a bit of money for a team not expected to contend.
Average salary on the M’s? $3.52 million.
Median salary (what the guy in the middle of the list makes)? $661,250
Actually, the paper itself has $661,250, while the online database has them at $480,000. Not much of a difference for the purposes of this discussion, though, as you’ll see.
That median figure is important, because while “average” salaries can be driven up by the costs of a handful of players, the median shows you what your typical guy is earning. So, it’s pretty clear, with more than half the team making a few hundred grand within the minimum, that this club is cutting costs. A year ago, the median salary was $1.65 million. Two years ago, it was $1.35 million. In fact, the M’s are now in the bottom tier of baseball in that regard. I have no problem with that, since contention is not expected to happen in 2009. This is what rebuilding teams do.
So, while the average costs may still be up there because of guaranteed contracts, the bulk of the deals — for non-superstar types — is coming down in a big way.
Costs will come down even further next season, with Erik Bedard, Jarrod Washburn, Miguel Batista and Adrian Beltre all slated to come off the books. That’s roughly $40 million in salary right there.
Now, keep in mind that the USA Today numbers and those of individual teams don’t always correspond to the number. That’s because teams often don’t count signing bonus money or deferred payments as part of their total salary costs for the year. USA Today does. So, the M’s figure they are giving might be higher than what the team expects to pay out. The team might have the M’s at $95 million or so. Ichiro is the club’s highest paid player, listed at $18 million by USA Today. But we all know that he has deferred money as part of his deal and that some places — like the Cot’s baseball salary page — have him at only $17 million for this season.
Anyhow, the dollars might be off but they’re all pretty close. What this does is give you something to gauge.
Yes, the M’s are cutting costs. But of all the teams picked to finish last in their division by a widespread number of pundits — not this one, I’m picking them third — the Mariners sure are spending plenty of cash.
The Toronto Blue Jays are at $80.5 million
San Diego Padres at $43.7 million
Pittsburgh Pirates at $48.6 million
Washington Nationals at $60.3 million
The Kansas City Royals at $70.1 million
Anyhow, you get the picture.



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