Monday, December 10, 2007

2008 Free Agent Mariners

It's been a slow couple of days, and there hasn't been a single rumor to pop up since before the weekend. So, what else can we talk about?

The Mariners have a few guys entering their contract years. It is not at all uncommon for teams to trade these type of players, especially if they're not expecting to re-sign them. Here I'll list these players and what should happen with them.

Richie Sexson, 1B - Sexson is going to make $14M in 2008. Sexson hasn't been good enough to earn his checks since coming to Seattle, and the Mariners would love to move him. It was said they were "desperate" to trade him during the Winter Meetings, though no one was interested. Even if a trade partner is found this offseason, it may not be worth it. Seattle would have to absorb a lot of his contract, and wouldn't get much in return. The only benefit to trading Sexson at this point is to make room for Ben Broussard or Raul Ibanez at first or Jeff Clement at DH.

Raul Ibanez, LF/1B/DH - Raul is very affordable and is making just $5.5M this upcoming season. The Mariners would love to keep his bat, but he is a liability in the outfield, and there is no room for him at first or DH as of now. He is also a fan favorite, originally coming up with the Mariners during the Lou Pinella era. Ibanez has drawn interest from teams like the Cubs and Indians, and his production and small salary give him good trade value. It wouldn't be a bad idea for Bavasi to move Raul for pitching this offseason, but I would dread the move as a fan. I don't see Raul having much of a future with the Mariners past 2008, unless he becomes the full time DH.

Kenji Johjima, C - Joh is in the final year of the contract he inked prior to the 2006 season. He will be making $5.2M, and is due for a raise after establishing himself as a top-5 catcher. The future of Johjima will be determined by what happens to top prospect Jeff Clement. If Clement is traded for a starting pitcher this offseason, a new contract for Kenji will become a top priority for the Mariners in 2007. I can't see any scenario that he is traded, unless the Mariners tank and the Jeff Clement era starts early. If Seattle lets Johjima walk, they will receive a first round pick as he'll be a Type-A free agent.

Jose Vidro, DH/1B - Vidro remains a great hitter and a walk machine, but he can no longer run or play second base full time. To me, Vidro would make the most sense to move. Moving Vidro would the allow, as I've previously mentioned, Ibanez or Clement to become the full time DH. The $8.5M owed to Vidro makes him a difficult player to trade, and he has a limited no trade clause. That said, I think a team could make a play for his services at the trade deadline, depending on what their needs are.

Willie Bloomquist, UT - Willie has been the Mariners main utility player for a few years now and the extension he signed after 2006 will be played out after this season. The Mariners wouldn't mind bringing him back again, but with Mike Morse out of options and ready to take on a similar role, plus Bloomquist's desire for more playing time, I doubt he will be back. Bloomquist has said he wants to be a starter, but that may not happen at this point in his career. I see him signing with a National League team next offseason.

Most likely to start 2008 outside of Seattle: Raul Ibanez, because he has the most value.
Most likely to sign an extension before the offseason: Kenji Johjima, as it seems Clement is coming up in trade talks more and more.

All that said, it would appear that all these players may start 2008 in blue and teal.

View other Bleeding Blue and Teal posts related to: RI-SEX RA-IBA KE-JOH JO-VID WI-BLO
Richie Sexson - Raul Ibanez - Kenji Johjima - Jose Vidro - Willie Bloomquist


Walrus said...

Knowing the M's FO then, how long before either or both Ibanez and Bloomquist gets an extension...seriously, and unfortunately.
I bet late February, just after spring training has started in full.

Jon Shields said...

Well, I don't see Bloomquist getting one. The M's should at least offer him one, but he has made it perfectly clear that he wants out of Seattle, despite growing up just across the Sound. If Raul is offered an extension it won't be til later on in the season, once they see how Jones is doing and if Wlad is ready to start playing. Of course, that's all assuming there is no trades.

Walrus said...

That would be the smart thing to do, but this is the M's FO. I bet the M's FO is counting on having Ibanez to be DH / 1B in 2009, and possibly in 2010. Thus, the only thing holding back the M's FO now is if another team suggests a trade that is just too tempting to turn down for Ibanez, no matter how unlikely that may be.