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December 6, 2010 at 9:25 AM

Chuck Armstrong says signings here “kind of astounding” as M’s brace for big financial losses in 2011

Mariners president Chuck Armstrong was asked this morning what he thought of the recent contract signings in baseball, especially the Jayson Werth deal with the Washington Nationals for seven years, $126 million.
“I think it’s kind of astounding,” he said. “And again, hindsight will prove whether they’re good or not. But (they) usually prove to not be. But all it takes is one team and teams know their own needs. I really don’t want to cast aspersions on anybody else. Because 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.”
Armstrong said the moves won’t impact the team’s payroll, which “will not be going down” and can hold firm at about $91 million for the on-field product if the team chooses to spend that much. That represents roughly what the team spent last year for the on-field product, while additional millions were paid out for Carlos Silva and Yuniesky Betancourt.
Hear all that Armstrong had to say by clicking this link. It was pretty extensive.
The signings that have helped drive the market upward won’t impact what the team is going to spend in 2011.
“It doesn’t affect the budget because the budget is set,” Armstrong said. “But it certainly affects the economics.”


And that leaves the Mariners needing to get ever creative as they try to fill holes for 2011. They certainly won’t be going after bigger ticket free agents. But the team is also conscious of the need to keep fans motivated and interested as their rebuilding process plays out.
Armstrong said the front office went to ownership in recent months — with Armstrong and GM Jack Zduriencik making a key presentation — in a plea to abnadon previous budget-setting practices and hold the line on payroll. Previously, the team had tied payroll to projected revenues — which led to a payroll slash of nearly $6 million on Opening Day last year.
Season tickets sales are down this year compared to last, Armstrong said. But the team felt that, despite anticipated financial losses, it was important to keep payroll the same.
“We made a presentation…as to why we didn’t think it would be in our best interests — for a expectations and so forth — to further reduce our budget,” Armstrong said. “Because we don’t have much flexibility now. If we had to reduce it, we might have had to do some things that we think might have been damaging in the long run.”

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