Saturday, November 14, 2009

Market Analysis: The Mariners, Jack Wilson, and Freddy Sanchez

The Mariners and Jack Wilson finally came to terms on a new contract yesterday:
The 31-year-old defensive whiz signed a $10 million, two-year contract with the Mariners. According to terms obtained by The Associated Press, Wilson gets $5 million in each of the next two seasons and can earn $250,000 a year in performance bonuses: $50,000 for 450 plate appearances, and $100,000 each for 500 and 550 plate appearances.

Seattle had an $8.4 million option with a $600,000 buyout under the contract Wilson had agreed to with the Pirates before the 2006 season.

The Mariners had inherited that contract from Pittsburgh on July 29, when they traded for the 31-year-old Wilson plus pitcher Ian Snell, for infielder Ronny Cedeno, catcher Jeff Clement and three minor league pitchers.

"I'm really, really excited to be back in Seattle. It's such a great chance to win and compete," Wilson said, remembering his 8 1/2 losing seasons with the Pirates.
Overall, it's hard not to like this move for the Mariners even though $5 million annually is a little steep for my blood right now. It remains to be seen just how much Wilson can make an impact with the bat, but where it counts for the Mariners is with the glove. If he can provide the Mariners with top notch defense at short, then there is no question he will be worth $5 million annually. It depends on how good Wilson's defense is over the next two seasons, how productive he is with the bat, and most importantly, Wilson's health.

I'm interested to see the impact of Jack Wilson's deal moving forward this offseason. You can make the case that the Mariners now have three of the best defensive players in baseball (Wilson, Gutirrez, and Ichiro), which is important because the Mariners play in the spacious and pitcher friendly, Safeco Field. When you take those two things into account, the Mariners could become the desired landing spot for free agent pitchers this winter. the only thing that can make this situation any more appealing to free agent pitchers is if the Mariners add some impact bats in their lineup, which I'm sure they will given how much money they have to spend this summer.

It's fascinating to note that the Mariners and Wilson (2 years/$10 million) drew up almost the identical contract to the one that Freddy Sanchez signed with the Giants last week (2 years/$12 million). Both players were in similar situations. Both guys were:
  • acquired via trade at the deadline
  • missed time in the second half because of injuries
  • had expensive options for 2010 that were not likely to be picked up, but both wanted to stay with their respective teams
Interestingly enough, the Giants and Mariners were in a similar situation as well. Both teams:
  • gave up promising prospects at the deadline (for Wilson and Sanchez, respectively)
  • had no short term options internally to replace the player if they did not come to terms
These deals look like amicable solutions for both sides. The Mariners and Giants respectively might have given Wilson and Sanchez a little extra annually, but that was a much better scenario for the team then any of the alternatives: pick up the expensive 2010 option or let the player test the free agent market. And as for Sanchez and Wilson, they signed contracts that probably earned them a little more than they would have gotten on the free agent market and they get to stay put for another two years.

Sounds like a win-win to me.


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Ezra said...

The Pirates moving on to Iwamura ($4.85M) didn't net them any huge salary relief. Though having Tim Alderson in the bank sure is nice!

Jorge Says No! said...


Right, it's important to remember that the Pirates dealt Wilson because they could not come to terms on an agreement with him before the deadline. Alderson was a major coup for the Pirates in the Freddy Sanchez trade, which is interesting to note that the Pirates traded Sanchez in part because they could not come to a contract agreement before the deadline with Sanchez either.