Drayer: The Mariners’ free agents, options and non-tender possibilities
With the World Series set to wrap up in the next few days, here’s what Mariners fans can look for as the Hot Stove season gets under way.
By the conclusion of the World Series, all players assigned to the 60-day injured list must be returned to the 40-man roster. The Mariners already took care of that Monday by outrighting first baseman Ryon Healy and relief pitchers Chasen Bradford and Connor Sadzeck to Triple-A Tacoma. All three were expected to decline the assignments and opt for free agency, something Healy already did Tuesday morning.
The Healy move was one of several announced Tuesday. The others were:
• OF Keon Broxton declined outright to Triple-A Tacoma and elected free agency.
• RHP Anthony Bass claimed off waivers by Toronto.
• RHP Matt Wisler claimed off waivers by Minnesota.
That leaves Seattle’s 40-man roster at 37 players.
The day after the World Series ends, players who are eligible can file for free agency. Starting pitchers Félix Hernández and Tommy Milone and reliever Arodys Vizcaíno are at the end of their contracts and are expected to file. Upon completion of the World Series, there is a five-day window where teams can negotiate exclusively with their own free agents. After those five days, free agents can negotiate with all 30 teams.
The team will also have to make a decision on left-hander Wade LeBlanc, who has a $5 million dollar option for 2020. After posting a 5.71 ERA it is not expected the team will pick up that option and opt to pay the $450,000 buyout instead.
There will be some work to be done with the 40-man roster, which is currently at 40 but will drop to 37 once the players named above become free agents. General manager Jerry Dipoto will need space both for players he would like to add and for those that he needs to protect in the Rule 5 draft. The deadline for setting the roster ahead of the draft is Nov. 20.
When will we see moves? Dipoto has already stated that he does not anticipate being as active in player acquisitions this offseason as he was in 2018. He will look to add starting pitching most likely via the free agent market, but for the time being he is not looking at big ticket items as the Mariners look to learn more about their young core players. He has players targeted and a move could come quickly, however.
“In free agency I would say the likelihood is we’ll shop early and we’ll shop late and you won’t hear a lot from us around the holidays,” he told media members the final week of the season.
Another item of business will be the non-tender deadline – the last day for teams to offer 2020 contracts to unsigned players that are under team control on their 40-man roster. That date falls on Dec. 2. The Mariners have six arbitration-eligible players left after Tuesday’s moves, all of which are listed below along with their MLBTradeRumors.com projected salaries for 2020.
• Tim Beckham: $3 million
• Domingo Santana: $4.4 million
• Mallex Smith: $2.7 million
• Omar Narváez: $2.9 million
• Sam Tuivailala: $900,000
• Mitch Haniger: $3 million
Beckham and Broxton are not expected to be tendered contracts, and the preference could be to try to sign Wisler at a slightly lower number than his projection. I would expect Dipoto will try to move Santana in a trade before the non-tender deadline, and if he is unable to do so non-tender him as well.
“In Domingo’s case we’ll see,” said Dipoto in September. “It was a very difficult finish to his season both physically and performance-wise. And that’s an area (outfield) where we’re particularly deep. If I’m being honest, I don’t have a definitive answer for you on Domingo.”
In addition to player moves, there are still coaching vacancies that need to be filled. The Mariners have openings for pitching, bullpen and third base coaches, and those hires should be announced in the next week to 10 days.
Other offseason dates to put on the calendar:
• General manager meetings will be held Nov. 11-14 in Scottsdale, Ariz.
• The deadline for free agents to accept qualifying offers is Nov. 14
• The MLB Winter Meetings will be Dec. 9-12.
• The Rule 5 Draft will be Dec. 12.