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September 24, 2014 at 12:21 PM

A few quick thoughts on offering Kyle Seager a contract extension

AP photo

AP photo

I mentioned this briefly in my notebook for today’s paper. But I wanted to get into it a little more when I had some more information.

You can expect the Mariners to push to sign Kyle Seager to a contract extension in the offseason. The Mariners know it’s the prudent thing to do as their all-star third baseman reaches arbitration eligibility. Seattle usually doesn’t do much negotiating during the season. But multiple baseball sources said that talks will be initiated after the season ends.

Asked about it yesterday, Seager said that he leaves it to his agent to handle such matters.

“I try not to worry about that stuff,” he said.

But he did say, “I will tell you this, my wife and I love Seattle and the organization.”

Seager has been a foundation level player for the Mariners the last three seasons at the minimal cost. But that will change.  He will go into his first season of being arbitration eligible.

Based on his numbers this season (below) … Seager will likely jump from the MLB minimum for his service time up to about $4 million next season. That’s a healthy chunk of change, but deserving for an all-star level third baseman.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 2.51.24 PM

Kyle Seager’s stat line

And if his numbers continue to stay at that level, you can expect it jump up by about $2.5 to 3.5 million each season. So Seager could earn around $20-21 million over the next three seasons combined.

Ideally, the Mariners would buy out those years at around that projected price and maybe add two more years under a contract to keep him locked up for the next five seasons.  It would be smart from an economic and baseball standpoint.

I asked my buddy at Fangraphs David Cameron for some contract/player comparisons. And he pointed out that it’s difficult to find exact comps of players three full years of service time that are arb eligible with his type of numbers. He gave me these:

  • Pablo Sandoval: 1900 PA, 64 HR, 247 RBI, .307/.356/.501, 128 wRC+, +13 WAR. Got $3/$6/$8 for his arb years, no FA years.
  • Freddie Freeman: 1900 PA, 68 HR, 280 RBI, .285/.358/.357, 127 wRC+, +7 WAR. Got $5$/9$/12 for his arb years, then $21 for each FA year.
  • Billy Butler: 2200 PA, 55 HR, 278 RBI, .299/.359/.457, 116 wRC+, +4 WAR. Got $5/$8/$8 for his arb years, then $8 for one FA and $13 for FA option.

The Mariners seem unlikely to give Seager $21 million a year for his free agent years like Freeman. Cameron pointed out that Butler and Sandoval’s deals are relatively old. It’s worth noting the Royals aren’t picking up Butler’s $13 million option for next year.

So what are his free agent years worth? What could he get on the market? If he continues to progress, could they be worth $17-20 million per year?  Yes. This past offseason Jhonny Peralta signed a 4-year, $53 million contract with the Cardinals and an aging Carlos Beltran singed for 3-years, $45 million so $17-20 based on baseball inflation is logical.

Say they decide to pay out both FA years at $17 million … that’s $34 million to go with $21 million projected arbitration years and we arrive at 5-years, $55 million, round it up to 5-years, $60 million and that’s still pretty good dollar value for consistent third baseman, while Seager gets some financial security. Maybe throw in a club option with a buyout to sweeten the deal.

Look, I don’t know if Seager will be the type of player to command $100-120 million dollar money when he becomes a free agent. Dave pointed that out as well.  And the biggest fear for a player is to have what happened to Chase Headley or even Kendrys Morales in this season.

But it would be smart of the Mariners, who have had trouble developing and finding consistent hitters,  to attempt to sign Seager to a contract extension and buy out some of the arbitration years and lock him up for few extra years. It’s a logical and smart move.

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