The trade deadline really snuck up on me this year (as did quite a lot of things, if I’m being honest), so I didn’t really have a chance to shoehorn this post in when I would’ve liked. Someone asked me if I think the Mariners should trade away Kyle Seager, and since I have a long-time tradition of using (reasonable) blog post comments as fodder for more content, I felt obliged to put this out into the world.
As we know,
I’m usually severely behind when it comes to timely responses to newsworthy events the Mariners did NOT trade Kyle Seager at the deadline on August 31st. That’s not surprising. He’s currently earning a retroactive portion of his $19 million 2020 salary. He is set to make $18 million in 2021. That’s all guaranteed, for a guy who struggled MIGHTILY in 2017 and 2018 (and really only had one great month in 2019). That being said, it does look like he’s turned a corner, of sorts. Seager isn’t as ruined by the defensive shift as he was before, and seems to have settled into a nice groove at the plate again. With his own third base defense being up to snuff, you’d think – with MLB salaries being what they are – he has solid value, even at a relatively-high $18 million price point in 2021.
The real crux of the situation is his 2022 option year. It’s currently a club option worth up to $15 million, which if he’s still with the Mariners through the 2021 season, we could get out from under at a relatively-low figure (maybe even as low as $0?). It’s hard to pin down, because there are various escalators built into the deal that make some of the money guaranteed (and I don’t know what the incentives are, or how likely they are to be met); as it stands, though, I think the most the Mariners would have to pay to be rid of him in 2022 is $5 million, which isn’t much.
Of course, if they really wanted to make a deal work, the Mariners could kick in some money – like they did when they traded Robinson Cano to the Mets – but getting rid of Seager wouldn’t be a simple cost-cutting endeavor. Seager is well-liked, he’s one of the last remaining veterans in this organization, and he’s still playing at a relatively-high level. Even if we were able to shed ALL of his salary, I don’t think there’s some huge need to do so at this time, when we’ll have that extra money heading into the 2022 season anyway (which, again, is probably the earliest we would see the Mariners legitimately contending for a playoff spot).
So, we would need to get a valuable prospect in return. Someone, ideally, who’s relatively close to playing at the Major League level, and obviously someone with a high ceiling. Seager is a guy who can help a veteran ballclub immediately, at a position that’s pretty hard to fill. It would probably be worth kicking in around $10 million or so to move on from Seager now, IF we got such a prospect.
But, if that’s off the table, then I don’t see the point. The Mariners have had so few of their home-grown stars play the vast majority of their careers in Seattle, especially in the last twenty years. Kyle Seager has been a solid everyday presence for this organization since his Major League debut in 2011 (with the aforementioned dip in production in recent seasons). He’s hands down the best third baseman we’ve ever had (not counting Edgar, of course, who was a DH for most of his career and was inducted into the Hall of Fame as such). It would be nice to honor that by effectively honoring the bulk of his contract extension that he signed with us in December of 2014. The Mariners have decidedly NOT been a well-run organization. So, it’s hard to get free agents to sign here (without overpaying) and it’s even harder for our homegrown stars to want to stay. Seager is one of the VERY few players who has been everything we ever could have wanted. He’s largely been overlooked and, I think, unfairly taken for granted, when in reality he’s special. Rare. One of the good ones.
Especially when you take in the emotional aspect, no, I don’t think the Mariners should trade away Kyle Seager. Not just to dump him and his salary. The only way I’m trading him away is if we get a serious prospect in return. Failing that, I’m more than happy to see his contract through to the end, and honor him accordingly when he walks off that field in T-Mobile Park. I mean, it won’t be as emotional as when the King left us, but then again what could be?