Years, not money, the surprising part of Seager’s reported extension
It would appear that Jack Zduriencik has taken care of a very important piece of Mariners business: He is on the verge of locking up Kyle Seager for the next seven years.
While anyone who knows anything about the Mariners would say that signing Seager to an extension is a no-brainer, it’s easier said than done, as is everything in this game. It wasn’t something I assumed would just get done for a number of reasons, so this morning’s news, while not a surprise, was not quite expected either.
Earlier this season I happened upon a conversation among players that gave me a bit of insight into how some view extensions and the buyout of free-agent years. On one side you can take the money and gain security now, and on the other side you can make less but still substantial money with the chance at greater dollars in the coming years.
My guess is that for a lot of us the answer would be easy – the security of being set more than comfortably for life would be tough to turn down regardless of the dollars that could be available later. The choice was not as clear for those having the aforementioned conversation, though.
“Why would I bet against myself?” asked one of the players.
All but one player in the group agreed with him. The dissenter pointed to having his family being set for life as the important thing, but the others were a little more brash in their comments about extensions and faith in their abilities and progression. Injury did not seem to be a concern or even a consideration, and neither did decline. This could have been clubhouse bravado talk by some, and conversations with their families very well could have been very different, but the statement stuck in my mind and made me wonder how challenging it might be for the Mariners to extend their own players.
That, of course, led me to wonder about Seager. On one hand, he’s got a good head on his shoulders, so I would think setting up his family would be a priority over rolling the dice. But on the other hand, he is supremely confident despite the “aw shucks” attitude he shows in pre- and post-game interviews.
You know who is least surprised that Kyle Seager is where he is today, going from a third-round pick overshadowed by his college teammate (Dustin Ackley, taken No. 2 overall by the Mariners in the same draft as Seager) to becoming a franchise cornerstone at a new position, making an All-Star team, winning a Gold Glove and establishing himself as one of the best young position players in the game? Kyle Seager.
He’s the same guy who told me three years ago that he watched Robinson Cano’s at-bats daily on video to learn from one of the best, and then went to pains to tell me by no uncertain terms was he ever putting himself anywhere near the same category as Cano. Don’t tell me he didn’t have aspirations of being Cano-like one day, though – perhaps better. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if MVP is his unshared eventual goal. And why shouldn’t it be, with what he has accomplished in a short amount of time? With his work ethic, and more importantly his ability to work in the right direction, the sky could be the limit.
This is all recognized by those around him, and because of that he is about to sign a $100 million deal. It is that figure – $100 million – that first jumped off the page to me. It’s an astronomical number for a young player, but there are also those seven years next to it to consider. There were thoughts that an extension would be in the 4-5 year, $60-75 million range. This certainly blows that out of the water – but again, there is that seven.
I had heard the negotiations were difficult dating back to an initial foray last year. My assumption was that dollars or hesitancy to give up free agency were a factor, but that seven indicates that it was more than just about the money. Barring injury, his arbitration years most likely would have been worth in the neighborhood of $30 million when all was said and done. The Mariners will have bought four of his free agent years for $17.5 million per. Depending on how the salary breaks down – and this very well could be backloaded, but assuming it isn’t – the Mariners are looking at paying Seager $17.5 million during his 30-33 year seasons, his prime years. What will top third basemen in their prime be earning from 2018 through 2021?
It is not often you see seven-year deals where the bargain comes at the end. This isn’t a case of knowingly giving a contract where the player will be paid well at the beginning and overpaid as he ages at the end. This has the potential to be a very good deal for the Mariners. Seager apparently meant what he said at the end of the season about loving Seattle and wanting to stay here for a long time. The $100 million is a huge number, but the seven is more important in a number of ways. This should be a huge win/win for both sides, with Seager pulling down a huge contract and Zduriencik gaining what could be the crown jewel so far in his tenure with the Mariners. He will have scouted, drafted, signed, developed and extended the first key member of “The Plan.”
When Cano signed with the Mariners, one of the pluses was the assumption that his being here would boost the team’s national profile and perhaps bring in others. Cano, Felix Hernandez and Seager have all said yes to the Mariners (and their dollars), and that could have an impact with those from the outside. Time will tell if Seager’s signing will help with those on the inside. Part of the “The Plan” was to keep those that were developed by the organization, and while every individual is different, Seager is a leader and the younger players are no doubt following this closely.
The Mariners obviously still have a lot of work to get done this winter. Extending Seager is not a big free-agent signing, but perhaps in the big picture it’s the most important signing they could make this offseason. That should not be taken for granted.