So how do I know this?
Well, it has nothing to do with cost. Amazingly, the Mariners did not have to part with an excessive amount of talent to acquire Lee, who is one of the best pitchers in baseball and had a phenomenal postseason with the Phillies. Right now, it looks like the Mariners will have to surrender only Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies to acquire Lee.
What a steal.
Also, Lee is only making $8 million dollars in 2010, which means that the Mariners will be acquiring one of the top pitchers in baseball at a bargain price. Given how much payroll flexibility the Mariners have this winter, that number is very manageable for the Mariners to take on and even gives them the ability to chase after more high priced free agents this winter. Even with Lee and Figgins on board, the Mariners are only committed to roughly $73 million dollars in payroll, which is $25 million dollars short of the Mariners' 2009 payroll.
In short, the Mariners have the ability to build a phenomenal team for 2010.
But the true reason why I know the Mariners are going for it in 2010 is because of Lee's contract. Cliff Lee is only signed through the 2010 season, which means that there is no guarantee that Lee will be in Seattle long term. Jayson Stark reported yesterday that Lee is looking for a deal comparable to the one signed by CC Sabathia last winter. And sorry to burst your bubble, Mariners fans, but with Felix Hernandez due for a contract extension after the 2011 season, there is simply no way the Mariners can afford to lock up both pitchers.
So if the Mariners are going to win with Cliff Lee, now is the time. What does that mean for the Mariners moving forward? They need to stay aggressive on the free agent and trade markets and continue to add pieces that will bring them closer to a title in 2010.
Next order of business on the agenda: find power hitters. Pronto.