The Mariners have lengthy been thought-about a candidate to pursue Shohei Ohtani this winter, but probabilities could also be slim that the reigning AL MVP will head to the Northwest. In keeping with MLB.com’s Daniel Kramer, “trade sources” say “that touchdown Ohtani doesn’t look like inside the Mariners’ reasonable agenda this offseason.”
Why that is the case isn’t specified, or whether or not or not this may symbolize a shift within the Mariners’ pondering after having some early talks with Ohtani and his illustration. Kramer cites some attainable causes, a number of associated to the record-setting price ticket that Ohtani is anticipated to land this winter. It might be that the M’s are cautious about committing what is going to seemingly be over $500MM to a single participant, even one in every of Ohtani’s stature and talent.
Seattle hasn’t been precisely shy about payroll prior to now few years. In any case, the franchise may find yourself spending $470MM on Julio Rodriguez, and can owe the younger star at the least $210MM primarily based on the phrases of his elaborate contract extension from August 2022. Luis Castillo and J.P. Crawford signed profitable extensions in their very own proper, and the Mariners inked Robbie Ray to a $115MM free agent deal within the 2021-22 offseason.
These offers however, the Mariners are at present projected for a $143.3MM payroll in 2024, placing the workforce across the center of the pack in spending. The $143.3MM determine does symbolize one of many increased payrolls in franchise historical past, and including Ohtani for what might be $50MM in common annual wage would put the M’s into uncharted monetary territory for them.
As Kramer notes, splurging on Ohtani may go away little within the price range for the entrance workplace to deal with different wants. Clearly including Ohtani could be a significant method of addressing Seattle’s broad want for lineup assist, “but, it’d even be imprudent to recommend that Ohtani’s bat alone would resolve all of the Mariners’ issues,” Kramer writes. If president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto did get the inexperienced gentle to spice up payroll by $50MM, utilizing that cash on a number of gamers could be a wiser method of upgrading the roster than spending all of it on a DH-only participant whose pitching future could be considerably murky after a second main arm surgical procedure.
In concept, an early pivot away from Ohtani may assist the Mariners in another winter pursuits. There was a ton of hypothesis and little or no reality about precisely how Ohtani and his camp plan to strategy his free company, but latest studies point out that Ohtani may decide his subsequent workforce earlier than the Winter Conferences start on December 4. Even when Ohtani is planning to go away the market comparatively early, that also offers the Mariners a few weeks to pursue different free brokers or commerce choices whereas lots of the bigger-spending groups are nonetheless tied up ready for Ohtani’s choice.
Regardless that there are many different methods for the Mariners to enhance the membership apart from signing Ohtani, there’s certain to be some disappointment from Seattle followers that the two-way celebrity won’t be on the radar. The Mariners had a considerably quiet offseason final winter, and as Kramer factors out, this relative lack of aggression coming off a playoff berth was interpreted by some as an indication that the M’s have been financially gearing as much as make a giant run at Ohtani this 12 months.
The Mariners have been one of many seven groups who have been the finalists for Ohtani when he first got here to the majors from Nippon Skilled Baseball through the 2017-18 offseason. With some hypothesis nonetheless present that Ohtani may want groups on the west coast, the Mariners have been seen as a pure potential touchdown spot this time round, particularly since Ohtani has frolicked in Seattle in previous offseasons and said that “I felt prefer it’s a really good metropolis. I actually favored it.” As nicely, the Mariners’ longstanding connection to Ichiro Suzuki (one in every of Ohtani’s baseball heroes) has made the workforce a preferred vacation spot for Japanese expertise, and the pondering was that signing Ohtani would solely strengthen that bond for a brand new era of followers.
Even when Seattle is out of the image, Ohtani’s market continues to be very lively. Groups just like the Angels, Dodgers, Giants, Pink Sox, Blue Jays, Rangers, Cubs, and doubtless different big-spenders just like the Yankees, Mets, Padres, and Phillies have all been linked to Ohtani to various levels, so it might be that the Mariners felt they weren’t going to win a bidding struggle with so many golf equipment concerned. Given how Ohtani’s camp is prioritizing secrecy in negotiations, we’d not hear a lot concrete information about his subsequent vacation spot till a signing is imminent.