Passan: Expectations for Mariners’ offseason ‘may be a little bit outlandish’

This offseason, and especially in recent weeks, there has been an ongoing debate in the Seattle Mariners fan base as to whether the team is doing enough to improve their roster.

Related: Salk – The Mariners’ offseason was exciting if you put it in the right light

The Mariners have largely relinquished free reign this round, with their most notable signing being Trevor Gott to a one-year, $1.2 million contract. That means M’s fans have watched the free agents sign huge deals with the biggest names to play elsewhere, be it Aaron Judge (nine years, $360 million to stay with the Yankees), Trea Turner (11 years, $300 million with the Phillies), or most recently Carlos Correa (13 years, $350 million with the Giants).

Are the Mariners doing themselves and their fans a disservice by not winning bidding wars for stars by handing out deals that would guarantee players money well into their 40s? ESPN MLB reporter Jeff Passan weighed in on Wednesday morning when he joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk, and he provided some valuable perspective on where the Mariners sit on the league landscape after a second straight 90-win season and a run of wins in the playoffs had behind them.

“There’s this kind of sickness that happens to sports fans that comes with winning, and it’s megalomania,” Passan said. “It’s that idea that once you start winning, everything you do has to be geared towards continuing that win. I think we can call it San Diego Padre-itis.”

Passan pointed to the Padres as an outlier as a middle-of-the-road team in MLB that has spent big bucks in recent years to create a lasting winner. The Padres, who made a splash this month with the addition of shortstop Xander Bogaerts with an 11-year, $280 million deal, may have reached the NLCS in 2022 but have only had two winning seasons out of the last 12 of those one of the was shortened 2020 campaign.

“It’s interesting that there are all these examples in baseball right now that don’t align very much with history,” Passan continued. “I’m sorry but we don’t see three teams that are guaranteed to spend over $400 million in an offseason and right now we have the Giants, the Mets and the Yankees, with the Phillies not far behind and the Padres, frankly , not very far behind either. We don’t see smaller market teams going out and spending exorbitant amounts of money on free agency, and yet the Padres are doing just that.”

The fact that the Mariners weren’t among those teams was frustrating for some, as you can see pretty easily on social media, but it’s not like they didn’t add this offseason. They also haven’t shied away from signing star players for lucrative long-term deals, which they did late in the 2022 season with renewals for both 2022 American League Rookie of the Year Julio Rodríguez and ace pitcher Luis Castillo, from which the latter was new to commercial acquisition.

“In the case of the Mariners, I think it’s been that long since they’ve been in the playoffs – I’m not saying the little taste the Mariners got this year should necessarily be enough, but I do suggest that the Expectations might be a bit offbeat at the moment,” said Passan. “It’s easy to forget the Julio contract or the Teoscar (Hernández) trade or the Kolten Wong trade and focus on things like we hadn’t seen any free agents at that point other than Trevor Gott. … I think along with everything else, frankly, if you’re complaining about the Mariners at this point, you’re spoiled. That’s the reality. You are spoiled and greedy right now.”

You can listen to the full conversation with Passan in the podcast at this link or in the player below. Then read out some of his answers to questions on this topic Brock Hurd and Mike Salk.

Do the Mariners have to act like a medium-sized team?

They don’t have to. This is what the Padres exemplify. You don’t have to live like that, but I also think that living like that isn’t the norm and that the Padres are the outlier… Market size is just an objective fact – compared to other teams, how big is a given medium’s market? You don’t have to behave like your market size.

Let’s look at the Mets. The Mets, always in the biggest market, certainly haven’t acted like a New York team for a long time; They acted like a Midwestern team. If you want to talk about the awkwardness of where the Mets were before (owner) Steve Cohen bought them, it was terrible payroll-wise. But the Mariners are looking at their most expensive paycheck in team history right now — I think it’ll probably be over $175 million when all is said and done. I don’t know if they will challenge $200 million, but I think it’s very reasonable to think that this is something that will bring in $180-185 million, and maybe even higher depending on the trade, and that’s still not in the top 15 the game.

So if the fans want to see it like ownership doesn’t do enough, I understand the instinct there, I just have trouble judging a team and its worthiness, its effectiveness in a season’s payroll. You know, if payroll stays flat after the jumps in attendance this year, which will no doubt be…(or) several years — like if it’s flat 23, 24, 25, yeah. If that’s the window and the Mariners don’t reach for their window, that’s problematic. But I have a hard time getting upset over a year, especially a year after a postseason gig.

Should Seattle have signed one of these superstars?

My first instinct is always to start pitching, and yet right now I’m looking at the Mariners’ rotation and I think they’re doing pretty well there. My next big thing is power. And yes, I think they would have been better if they went to Turner, Correa or Bogaerts. And yet Bogaerts cost $280 million over 11 years, Turner $300 million over 11 years and Correa $350 million over 13 years. Are these deals good for the Mariners?

Yeah I think you can argue that when you get a player of this caliber it doesn’t make any (damn) difference how much you pay the guy – you add a star. So thinking of Turner in particular – back then $300 million for 11 years, oh my god that was an amazing deal for the player. Now you compare it to what Bogaerts and Correa got and suddenly you think, well, that doesn’t look so bad after all. (Or) $160 million for eight years Brandon Nimmo? No probably not. You don’t bring in (catcher) Willson Contreras when you have Cal Raleigh back there.

There are deals the Mariners would have done better, but are there any out there that you look at and say you should regret not doing? No, I don’t know that it exists.

Mariners Offseason: Six under-the-radar free agents to fill the need for two at-bats

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