The Seattle Mariners’ first-ever Gold Glove player was Mark Langston in 1987. From 1987 through 2010, the Mariners had at least one Gold Glover on their team (mostly thanks to Griffey and Ichiro, who were defensive stalwarts in their stints with the Mariners). 24 consecutive seasons, a remarkable stretch. Our last Gold Glove players were Ichiro & Guti in 2010; since then, it’s been a barren wasteland (with one key snub being Brendan Ryan who should’ve won all the Gold Gloves).
This week, Kyle Seager hopes to start a new streak, as he just won his first Gold Glove award. If you want to take a look at all the Mariners who have won the award, click HERE and scroll down. It’s not a perfect award – it’s still voted on by people who may not necessarily follow the approved defensive metrics we’ve got in place today – but it’s still the most popular and noteworthy. The Baseball Hall of Fame isn’t listing the number of Fielding Bibles players have won in the past, if that’s what you’re getting at. The Gold Glove is still SOMETHING, even when it’s a crying shame that certain guys are squeezed out.
By all accounts, Kyle Seager took a “big step forward” in his defense this year. I never thought he was all that bad before, but I think the biggest difference is: he’s making the routine plays look easy and the difficult plays look routine. Third base is an important defensive position. You’ve got right handed power hitters jacking balls a million miles per hour in your direction, and you’ve got noodle-armed speedsters dropping bunts and the so-called “swinging bunts”. His defense on those plays where he has to run up, one-hand a slow-roller, and uncork a powerful, off-balance throw to first base a half-second before the runner’s foot lands on the bag are certainly reminiscent of those good ol’ Adrian Beltre days of yore.
We’ve certainly come a long way since the days of Russ Davis.
Was Kyle Seager the most-deserving defensive third baseman in 2014? Tough to say. To be fair, he DIDN’T win the Fielding Bible (that went to Josh Donaldson of the A’s), but it sounds like the two players were close enough that this isn’t the biggest outrage of the century.
I’m a little more concerned with what this means going forward. Before this year, Kyle Seager was a nice little player for us. He came up with Dustin Ackley and was the steadier player of the two. In his first couple (full) seasons, he hit 20+ homers and was one of the few pleasant stories on the team. While his offensive numbers have slowly climbed each year, his defense has improved dramatically, culminating with his first All Star Game appearance and now his first Gold Glove award. He’s really developing a nice little reputation in the league! We’ll never have a chance to say Kyle Seager is underrated, because his 2014 season has proven that the rest of the baseball world is indeed properly rating this kid.
Which is good and bad. It’s good because he’s getting better. He’s not just some guy filling a hole at a key position of need. He’s no longer just a guy who you “don’t have to worry about”. Going forward, Kyle Seager is a guy you build around! He’s a guy you stick somewhere around the top half of the lineup and watch him produce. He’s a guy who helps those around him in the infield defend better, because the short stop doesn’t necessarily have to worry about covering extra territory. He’s a star, and a guy other teams need to game plan for.
Which ultimately means he’s a guy who’s going to cost us a lot of money to retain. He’s arbitration-eligible and in a couple years will be a full-blown free agent. If the Mariners are going to take a shot at keeping him long-term, and getting something of a discount by buying-out his remaining arbitration years, they better do it now. THIS offseason. Yes, the Mariners need to fill holes at DH and in the outfield, but they also need to make Kyle Seager a top priority.
It seems like year-in and year-out, third base is one of the toughest positions to fill. There really aren’t a lot of great third basemen out there. Guys who can both hit well and defend well. So, when you find one – and you’re able to cultivate him from the very beginning of his career – you NEED to keep him for as long as possible!
I have no doubt that the Mariners will get it done. Just like they got an extension done with Felix. This, really, has been what we’ve been waiting for since 2009, when the Mariners made a drastic reduction in payroll. You can’t just go out and spend money willy-nilly on free agents, because they’re rarely worth the hundreds of millions of dollars they command. The best way to spend your money is to extend your home-grown guys. But, they have to be WORTH it. And Kyle Seager is most certainly worth it. He’ll be a great player in this league for at least another ten years.
Honestly, at this point, if we could get something in the area of 10 years, $180 million, I’d do that in a heartbeat. With the way payroll is only going up and up across both leagues, $18 million per year will be right in line with his overall value. And, if we can go with something cheaper – like 10 years, $150 million – Kyle Seager would be a steal.
The only problem with that is, I don’t know if he’d want a deal with that many years. If he went in for a 4 or 5-year deal, he’d still be right there in the prime of his career, ready to TRULY max out a contract. Just this week, Kyle Seager turned 27 years old; these are exciting times.
So, congratulations Kyle Seager! Yes, the Gold Glove is nice and everything, but you’re also about to be a very rich man! Now, let’s just hope that you’re a career Mariner, and we can all go home happy.