Morosi: Why Mariners should spend at ‘higher level’ and ‘behave accordingly’
Oct 27, 2023, 11:57 AM
(Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
While the Texas Rangers made a massive jump and wound up reaching the World Series after consecutive offseasons of big spending, the Seattle Mariners missed the playoffs outright in 2023.
Not only did the Mariners fail to make the playoffs for a second straight season, they actually finished 2023 with two fewer wins than in 2021 and 2022.
So what can the Mariners do not just to make it back to the postseason, but potentially make a World Series run? MLB Network insider Jon Morosi weighed in during his Thursday visit with Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob.
“I do believe that at some point, the Mariners have to spend it a little higher level if they’re going to be able to compete with a team like Texas, a team like Houston, and reach the World Series,” Morosi said.
According to Spotrac, the Mariners finished 2023 with the 18th-highest payroll in MLB and roughly $30 million below MLB average. For context, the Rangers were fourth and the Astros were seventh.
The payrolls for Texas and Houston also went up dramatically during the season, in large part because of the trade deadline when both teams added Hall of Fame pitchers from the New York Mets with Max Scherzer going to Texas and Justin Verlander returning to Houston.
When looking at opening day payrolls, Morosi pointed to USA Today, which reported a $60 million difference between the Mariners and Rangers.
“If you take $60 million, even if you’re being like charitable here, let’s say that’s three All-Star players difference. Three All-Star players of a difference between the Rangers and the Mariners in terms of what you can afford,” Morosi said. “Do we think that if the Mariners had three more All-Stars, would they have been able to get two more wins? The answer to that is yes. So that’s less of a (president of baseball operations) Jerry Dipoto decision than it is a a ownership decision if we’re just going to be completely honest about it. That’s what it is.”
“At this time of year as we’re now entering November, when the question is, ‘Are they making this move or not? And are they going to invest this money or not?’ The GM has a voice, but not nearly as big as the owner. And that’s where they’re at,” Morosi later added.
But, Morosi cautioned, spending more doesn’t always equate to winning or adding the right talent. He pointed to the 2021-22 free-agent shortstop class.
“It’s not always the right answer to say, ‘Yes, let’s spend the money.’ Because let’s think about the offseason where Trevor Story was out there and Javier Baez was out there and even (Carlos) Correa to an extent. And when you look at it, it was probably wise, in retrospect, that the Mariners didn’t sign any of them,” Morosi said. “So we have to remember that sometimes no is the right answer.”
But, Morosi said, yes is often the right answer, and during that offseason, Texas signed All-Star middle infielders Marcus Semien and Corey Seager to lucrative contracts.
“So there’s a lot of different guys where you could look at and say ‘what if.’ And I think the Mariners’ goal here needs to be that they should eliminate the ‘what-ifs,”‘ Morosi said.
Morosi pointed to Dipoto’s “54%” comment from his end-of-season press conference as an example of the Mariners clearly focusing on long-term planning.
“The reality is you only have a team that’s this good with pitching that’s this good and this young for a handful of years if you’re lucky,” Morosi said. “And one of those years should be 2024. I would recommend the Mariners behave accordingly.”
Listen to Wyman and Bob’s full conversation with Morosi at this link or in the player near the top of this story.