How should the Mariners spend in 2014?

The Seattle Mariners should have some financial flexibility heading into the 2014 campaign. As it stands right now, the club is only on the hook for $34.3 million of payroll next season.

A hefty chunk of that, a figure of about $24.9 million, will be paid to Felix Hernandez. Hisashi Iwakuma’s bargain price of $6.5 million represents the only other significant figure as of now. Should the team’s payroll maximum remain around the $90 million mark, Jack Zduriencik’s one-more-shot season will begin with somewhere in the neighborhood of $56 million to spend on free agents, trade acquisitions and arbitration raises.

Speaking of the latter, unless the club acquires more arbitration-eligible players, they will only owe raises to Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders. Neither player took huge enough strides in their final pre-arb year to garner much, but they’ll both see modest bumps in salary. Based on recent history, neither is likely to get more than $2-2.5 million next season in their first year of arbitration eligibility considering their big league careers thus far. So, we’ll pencil each in for $2 million for this exercise.

That leaves $52 million to spend. Granted, they did offer Josh Hamilton and a truck load of cash that would have raised payroll significantly, and they could at some point have cash inflow from the ROOT acquisition. We can’t really count on any of that yet, of course, but there have been enough signs the last couple off-seasons that the club would spend big on what they deem the right guys.

So, you’re the general manager. I’m giving you that $52 million, plus a payroll increase of $15 million, to spend. That’s a total of $67 million in payroll you can add.

How would YOU spend the cash? Go totally wild here. Trades, free-agent signings, internationals. Whatever.

This is all just guess work, of course. We won’t know real figures for some time, and of course free agents or trade partners could say “no thanks.” But have fun with this and tell us how you’d upgrade the team.

Oh, and pick your manager, too.

(Note: This isn’t a complain about Zduriencik/Lincoln/Armstrong thread. Let’s just have fun with this one!)

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Jason A. Churchill

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