ICYMI: January 20 – February 5

 Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks on their Super Bowl XLVIII championship, defeating the Denver Broncos 43-8 this past Sunday. The 35 point difference was the largest margin of victory since Super Bowl  XXIV in 1990, when the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Broncos by a score of 55-10. The Seahawks and the 12th man are filling the streets of Seattle this afternoon for the Victory Parade through the streets and a celebration at Century Link Field. Even Safeco Field was opened up for fans to watch the festivities as an estimated 700,000 people have joined the celebrations in Seattle today.

The Super Bowl offers a reminder that Spring Training really is just around the corner. As of today, just seven days remain until the Seattle Mariners’ pitchers and catchers report to the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona for their first workouts. Actual games don’t begin to take place until the last few days of February of course, there’s little doubt that the smell of baseball is starting to fill the air once again.

The Mariners avoided arbitration with the newly acquired Logan Morrison this week, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.75 million with $350 thousand in available incentives as well. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, Morrison can earn an additional $75 thousand for reaching 450 plate appearances, and an additional $100K for reaching 500 and 550 plate appearances respectively. LoMo can also earn another $75 thousand if he reaches the 600 plate appearance plateau as well. Seattle had filed a $1.1 million number for Morrison’s 2014 salary, while his camp had filed a $2.5 million number. Instead of going through the dredged arbitration process, both parties agreed to a number just under the midpoint of their exchanged figures with very reachable incentives should Morrison stay healthy and produce well this year.

Scott Baker was added to the rotation mix on a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training last week. The 32-year old will earn a base salary of $1 million if he breaks camp with the club and can earn up to $3.25 million more in incentives. Baker was rumored to have interest from several clubs this winter, but given the lack of stability and certainty in the Mariners’ rotation, there’s a good chance he’ll fill out a rotation spot for Seattle at least to begin the year. This move comes with virtually zero risk for the M’s as they have no financial obligation to Baker should he fail to make the team, and even if he were to start the season in the bullpen, a million bucks is a very small price to pay.

After being designated for assignment to make room for John Buck, outfielder Carlos Peguero was dealt to the Kansas City Royals for cash considerations. Peguero will turn 27 later this month and has shown plenty of power in the minors, but posted a .195/.242/.380 line in 219 plate appearances spread across 2011-13 with Seattle.

Earlier in January, I took a look at the notable transactions made by the Mariners in the month over the last decade. Of note: last January the M’s dealt John Jaso in a three team deal that landed them Mike Morse, while back in January of 2004, Seattle sent Carlos Guillen to the Detroit Tigers in one of the most lopsided transactions in Mariners’ history.

The New York Yankees will hold the title of biggest January transaction for 2014, and one of the biggest of the entire winter when they agreed to terms with Masahiro Tanaka on a seven-year deal. As Alex Carson notes, the $155 million owed to Tanaka is similar to what the Mariners extended Felix Hernandez for over the same age period, even though the Japanese ace has yet to throw a pitch in the major leagues. Seattle was rumored to be interested in the right hander and at one point was considered to be a favourite, but ultimately the Bronx Bombers came out on top. Tanaka can opt out of the deal after the fourth year and become a free agent, which essentially makes it a four year deal worth $88 million with the $20 million posting fee paid to his Japanese club if he decides to hit the open market at age 29.

Alex brought up some familiar names who the Mariners could turn their attention to in Ervin Santana and David Price. Although Santana’s asking price has reportedly dropped from the $100 million he was seeking at the beginning of the winter, he still remains unsigned. It’s tough to say how keen the Tampa Bay Rays are on trading Price at this point in the winter since his market has yet to heat up again now that Tanaka is signed. As Chris Moran discusses, perhaps the asking price of the Rays’ ace as well as Chicago Cubs’ ace Jeff Samardzija are still too high.

Much has been made about Taijuan Walker being the potential center piece in any trade for Price, but the ceiling of the young righty appears to outweigh the value Price can provide in the two years before he hits free agency. Chris suggests a package focussed on lower-ceiling but MLB ready players such as James Paxton and Nick Franklin or a package featuring players still in the lower minors but with very high ceilings would be more reasonable for either starter. Franklin has been a much discussed trade chip and it’s likely the M’s are more willing to listen on Paxton than they are on Walker. Seattle doesn’t quite have any high ceiling lower lever at their disposal right now, but a good season out of a guy like Tyler Pike could help change that.

I recently took a look at how the 2014 Seattle Mariners line up to the 2008 Milwaukee Brewers after Corey Hart offered a comparison of the two clubs as a reason for signing here in the offseason. Hart described the ’14 Mariners as “young and exciting” and depending on your definition of those two terms, the Mariners project to provide both this season. Like the ’08 Brew Crew, the M’s project to, once again, be among the MLB leaders in home runs by season’s end. Seattle also projects to have a relatively young team with youngsters like Walker and Paxton expected to make a push to break camp with the club. Unfortunately the Mariners lack the rotation stability the Brewers had that year, and barring huge steps forward from guys like Walker and Erasmo Ramirez, Seattle’s rotation simply isn’t good enough to contend.

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, former top Mariner prospect Vinnie Catricala has decided to walk away from the game. Alex offers some insight from an interview he had done with Catricala previously, and praised the 25-year old’s dedication to the game he loved. After struggling in 2012 and for the first half of 2013, the Mariners designated him for assignment in June and he was claimed on waivers by the Oakland Athletics. Catricala was selected in the Rule-5 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers this past December, but has instead chosen to retire and pursue a career in law enforcement. Unfortunately Catricala ends his career without making an appearance in the major leagues. The team at PI wish him nothing but the best for the future.

In another must-read piece from the past two weeks, Brendan Gawlowski details what it takes to get a job in baseball. Drawing from his own personal experience as a minor league video coordinator for the Everett Aqua Sox last summer, Brendan analyzes the process of everything from putting together a ‘baseball’ resume to developing contacts within an organization.

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Tyler Carmont

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