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January 20, 2010 at 10:09 AM

Mariners have money left to spend after Felix Hernandez, other deals

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UPDATE: 11:15 a.m. — Already, as some of you have pointed out, there is a discrepancy in the numbers since Ichiro is having $5 million per year deferred from being paid out until after he retires. He also got a $5 million bonus, which would be $1 million a year pro-rated as we’ve been doing. Thing is, I don’t know whether the Mariners are setting part of that future salary money aside right now, or not. So, we count him somewhere between $12 million and $18 million. I’ll try to get that clarified. Still leaves the M’s with a lot of payroll room.
Here we go, my foray into mathematics. Time to cover the kids’ eyes as I embark on one of my least favorite exercises. We’ve been telling you for a while now that the Mariners, if trying to maintain their payroll at about the $98 million spent last year, have roughly another $10 million or so they can still spend.
And, after yesterday’s news that Felix Hernandez is about to ink a five-year deal worth $78 million, that hasn’t changed much.
Many of you have asked me to do some updated payroll calculations and so, against my better instincts, that is what I am attempting. Just like they tell you in advertising, the objects you see here may not be exact replicas of the real thing. But they are pretty close. What I’m getting here is a payroll commitment of just under $88 million so far.
ICHIRO — $17 million
MILTON BRADLEY — $9 million + $3.5 million to Cubs
CLIFF LEE — $9 million
CHONE FIGGINS — $8 million
FELIX HERNANDEZ — $6.5 million + $3.5 million signing bonus (pro-rated $700,000 per year)
JACK WILSON — $5 million
IAN SNELL — $4.25 million
CASEY KOTCHMAN — $3.5 million (estimated)
DAVID AARDSMA — $2.75 million
KEN GRIFFEY JR. — $2.35 million
JOSE LOPEZ — $2.3 million
MARK LOWE — $1.15 million
BRANDON LEAGUE — $1.1 million
GARRETT OLSON — $420,000
JACK HANNAHAN — $410,000
ROB JOHNSON — $400,000
SHAWN KELLEY — $400,000
ADAM MOORE –$400,000
SEAN WHITE — $400,000
JASON VARGAS — $400,000
DOUG FISTER — $400,000
TOTAL — $87.35 million
Now, let me explain these calculations and how they might vary slightly, though not all that much.

For the two arbitration eligibles still left, Brandon League and Casey Kotchman, we are splitting the difference down the middle between what they’ve asked and the team has offered.
As far as the $7.15 million in cash the Mariners sent to Boston in the Kotchman deal, I’ve checked with a Mariners official and been told that the money is the exact amount that the Brewers were paying Seattle for Bill Hall. So, the Mariners simply gave Boston the player Hall is and passed on any salary relief they were getting. It’s a straight-up deal. You don’t count any of the cash on Seattle’s balance sheet.
In Bradley’s case, the Cot’s baseball contracts website, which I’ve used for the majority of my calculations here, says the Mariners are paying the Cubs an extra $5.5 million this year and $3.5 million next. But I’m told that was actually reversed. In reality, the Mariners are paying $2 million less this season for Bradley than next. So, it would appear that they gave the Cubs $3.5 million for him this year and will hand over $5.5 million next year. That is what I’m going with for 2010 — an extra $3.5 million — and initial reports after that deal indicate that this is how the money has been disbursed.
The Mariners are also giving the Royals $1 million this year for Yuniesky Betancourt plus $1 million next year. So, you add $1 million to this year’s payroll.
On Hernandez’s signing bonus, and this really is key, the vast majority of the teams actually pro-rate these things over the life of a contract when it comes to book-keeping. So, while Hernandez gets the full $3.5 million up-front, the Mariners would count it as $700,000 every year for five years on their payroll.
That makes $7.2 million for Hernandez this year, not the $10 million or so everyone was expecting him to sign for in arbitration. Obviously, that makes a big difference when it comes to payroll and is one reason why you see bonuses handed out when these long-term deals take place. The players obviously like money up-front and have certain tax advantages with bonus, which is another reason, but not pertinent to this discussion.
Now, the Mariners could have a different way of calculating bonuses, but I’ve yet to be told that’s the case. As I’ve said, the pro-rating thing is pretty common.
As far as the minimum-salaried guys go, the major league minimum for 2010 is $400,000. Some guys might get raises to $450,000 or $500,000 after a partial year of service. Where Cot’s has the deals listed, I’ve included them., In some cases, I’ve guessed at $400,000. Even if it does go up in some cases, we’re talking about maybe $1 million or so. So, not significant.
On Franklin Gutierrez, we’ve yet to get an exact year-by-year breakdown, so I’m estimating on a per-year average. Usually, you see teams pay less on the front end, so he could actually be making less than we have him down for — which would balance out the minimum-salaried guys.
For all of you Luke French fans, yes, he could make the team. But you’re not going to see Garrett Olson, Jason Vargas, French and Doug Fister all make it (unlikely, anyway) so you could simply swap French in for one of the other guys right now if you’d like. Not much of a difference.
In all, I think this is a pretty safe estimate of where the Mariners stand.
That means, yes, the Mariners could afford to go after a guy like Ben Sheets. Or a guy like Orlando Hudson. Or a Jarrod Washburn and some other guy. They do have money left if they are to match last year’s payroll.
Considering the commitments they’ve already made, such as trading for Cliff Lee in what looks like a one-year rental, I’d be surprised if they don’t have one or two moves left. They do have the money.

Comments | Topics: Chone Figgins


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