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

Category: payroll
March 12, 2013 at 10:04 PM

Mariners turned a profit of just under $5.9 million last season

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This item came out over the weekend while I wasn’t here, but the Mariners have reported a profit of $5.86 million for the 2012 season, despite an 87-loss campaign and plummeting attendance.

The team is required to report annual profits and losses to the Public Facilities District board as part of its Safeco Field lease agreement, which runs through 2018. A big reason the team was able to turn the profit trick despite all the losing?


Comments | More in payroll | Topics: brandon league, Chone Figgins, ichiro

February 17, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Mariners owners took first step with Felix Hernandez, but the follow-through will ultimately determine their legacy

Mariners president Chuck Armstrong (left) and chairman Howard Lincoln (right) honor Felix Hernandez after last year’s perfect game. Photo Credit: AP

Read some interesting comments this morning by Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln, who told Jerry Brewer that the seven-year, $175 million contract given to ace pitcher Felix Hernandez is a sign the team’s ownership is committed to building a winner.

“This signing, given the size and length of the contract, is the best evidence that the ownership group is committed to winning and doing what it takes to win,” Lincoln said. “It ought to remove any doubts about how the ownership group feels and what its objectives are.”

If only things were that simple.

Lincoln is right about the team’s commitment to Hernandez being huge and, frankly, imperative. For fans desperate for some positive sign from ownership, this was a big step indeed.

But Lincoln sounds as if he believes Hernandez is the cherry on the team’s championship sundae. In reality, Hernandez right now is exactly what he was three years ago, the last time the Mariners gave him an early extension — a true ace pitcher on a fourth-place team. Yes, the Mariners should win more than they lose this year and might even secure 85 victories like they did back in 2009, the last time they didn’t finish fourth. But looking at the AL West on paper, few experts anywhere are going to pick the Mariners to finish any higher than the Rangers, Angels and Athletics in their own division.

And unless the Mariners can beat out two of those teams, they won’t be going to the post-season anytime soon.

To make that jump will require more than just locking up Hernandez. Those lessons of the past three seasons — when the team lost 101, 95 and 87 games, respectively, with Hernandez fronting the rotation — should be abundanty clear by now.

The hard, factual history of this team is that the ownership group touted by Lincoln has been cutting payroll ever since the collapse of the world’s stock markets towards the end of 2008 and the decline in personal wealth of Hiroshi Yamauchi and Chris Larson, the team’s two largest owners with roughly 85 percent combined control. Yamauchi did cede his ownership shares to Redmond-based Nintendo of America prior to that for “estate planning purposes” but retains titular control of the team.

That decision to cut payroll by the Mariners coincided with the collapse of the 101-loss team in 2008 — which cost $117 million to assemble — and has enabled a selective, fortuitous retelling of history where the team is concerned.


Comments | More in payroll | Topics: contract, felix hernandez, howard lincoln

February 8, 2013 at 6:52 AM

An important thing to consider when it comes to Felix Hernandez and the start point of his new deal

The 2015 start date on a five-year contract extension for Felix Hernandez could save the Mariners payroll space now as opposed to immediately launching a new seven-year deal. Photo Credit: AP

Last night,’s Buster Olney reported that the new contract extension for Felix Hernandez is actually a five-year, $135.5 million deal that starts in 2015 — after his current agreement expires two seasons from now. Initially, USA Today reported it as a seven-year, $175 million contract extension that begins right now and replaces the old one.

From a money and years perspective, there’s no difference. Hernandez has two years, $39.5 million in base salary left on his current deal. Add another five years, $135.5 million to that and you get the initial seven years, $175 million reported.

So, both Olney and USA Today are “right” when it comes to the years and dollar amount.

Here’s the difference.

If we’re continuing with the old contract for two years, then nothing changes money-wise with the team’s current payroll when it comes to a Hernandez extension.


Comments | More in payroll | Topics: contract, extension, felix hernandez

February 7, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Report: Felix Hernandez and Mariners have agreed to seven-year, $175-million contract

A report says Felix Hernandez has agreed to a seven-year, $175-million contract with the Mariners. Photo Credit: AP

Felix Hernandez and the Mariners were going to have to get something done contract-wise this winter, or else the team would be in a rather precarious spot going into 2013. Well, a report today from Bob Nightengale of USA Today says the two sides have reached preliminary agreement on a seven-year, $175-million contract that will replace the pitcher’s old deal.

Hernandez will earn an average of $25 million per season.

The deal is not yet finalized, so nobody is commenting for the record and I have not been able to get confirmation of it on my end. Then again, the fact the usual suspects aren’t commenting is usually a good sign something big is about to happen.

Here’s another indicator. When I spoke to GM Jack Zduriencik yesterday, he told me he’d expected to already be in Arizona but had been detained a few extra days in Seattle on business and was hoping to be here by the weekend. Could Zduriencik be expecting to participate in a Friday press conference in Seattle?

Stay tuned.


Comments | More in payroll | Topics: contract, felix hernandez, Jack Zduriencik

February 1, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Mariners payroll stands at just under $79 million with spring training right around corner

The Mariners would currently spend about $78.6 million — before incentive bonuses — if they put their current roster on the field. Photo Credit: AP

When the year-end payrolls were reported late in Decemeber, the Mariners checked in at $84.4 million for the 2012 season. To-date, with spring training just around the corner, the team has committed just under $79 million to the current squad for 2013.

That total includes the $1.5 million deal reached with backup catcher Kelly Shoppach this week, a move the club has yet to announce because the 40-man roster is full and somebody needs to be moved off it. It also includes a rumored $1.6 million contract with Robert Andino for the 2013 season, even though I never saw official figures for him after the Mariners non-tendered and then reworked a deal with the infielder. Danny Hultzen has to be paid MLB money even if he’s in the minors. If Hultzen makes the team, you can subtract one of the MLB minimum players from the payroll equation. But Hultzen will almost certainly start the year in Class AAA, so he has to be paid, as well as another league minimum type to fill the roster spot Hultzen will not be occupying.

Don’t forget, the club is also paying all of Chone Figgins‘ salary plus a pro-rated signing bonus for 2013, plus the buyout on Miguel Olivo’s deal.

As of right now, I have the team at $78.65 million in guaranteed contracts, pro-rated bonuses, minimum-salaried payouts to others on the roster, plus those no longer here who have to still be paid.

Whenever I do this exercise, I get the inevitable “Didn’t the team defer payments to Ichiro?” questions. The short answer: yes, the team did and no, it does not count towards current payroll. MLB has its own rules and practices for dealing with deferred payments and the Mariners have stated previously that this is accounted for and handled separately from ongoing payroll. So, no, nothing the team did or is doing with Ichiro has any impact on payroll for the purposes of these discussions. For those who will continue to argue that it does, please don’t.

The Mariners usually keep a contingency fund of roughly $5 million, as do many teams. This is to pay out incentive bonuses plus any mid-season add-ons the club might make in a pennant push or a mid-season trade that takes on value. So, assuming they were to max out on that, payroll would be at just under $84 million — which is still less than last year’s squad cost. But assuming the contingency fund will be maxed out on would not be the best way to go, since the Mariners could also jettison payroll via in-season trades. Remember, they have several bats — Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez, to name some — who are only on one-year deals and could be dealt.

So, we’ll just have to see.


Comments | More in payroll | Topics: free agents, Jack Zduriencik, salary

December 17, 2012 at 6:06 PM

Mariners final 40-man roster payroll for 2012 checked in at $84.4 million

The Mariners, under guidance of team president Chuck Armstrong (left) and CEO Howard Lincoln (right), spent $84.4 million total on their 40-man roster last season. Photo Credit: AP

There was so much going on late last week with the whole Josh Hamilton saga that that I didn’t have time to include the final 2012 MLB payroll figures as reported by the MLB head office and obtained by Associated Press. Now, these are usually different from the ones we give you on Opening Day in that they include all costs paid out for players on the 40-man roster throughout the course of a season, as opposed to the 25-man major league squad on the first day of the season.

In the case of the Mariners, they ended at $84.4 million. That’s 21st  in MLB and 10th in the AL.

For comparison’s sake, the Mariners ended 2011 at $98 million, which was 14th in MLB and 8th in the AL.

The AP puts out the final figures each year and says they are: for 40-man rosters and include salaries and pro-rated shares of signing bonuses, earned incentive bonuses, non-cash compensation, buyouts of unexercised options and cash transactions. In some cases, parts of salaries that are deferred are discounted to reflect present-day values.

So, the Opening Day payrolls are where the team began each season, looking at where money would be spent if the season ended that same day. Naturally, things happen throughout the course of a season that can alter those April intentions. When salaries are shed via trade and other player movement takes place, things change. These figures I’m giving you now are for all the money teams wound up spending on player payroll in the given year.

In some ways, the end of season payroll is more reflective of a team’s true intentions in any given year than is the Opening Day version. After all, a team can begin the year with a big payroll, then dump players at the trade deadline and wind up fielding a Class AAA squad the final two months. Likewise, a team can start off small, but with plans for a mid-season boost if they stay in contention.

Worth noting as well is that these numbers are not somebody’s payroll guess. These are the official figures required to be reported to MLB’s head office for purposes connected to the collective bargaining agreement. In other words, teams cannot dispute these figures after-the-fact.


Comments | More in payroll | Topics: chuck armstrong, free agents, howard lincoln