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2009 Offseason Plan (v 1.1)

As the offseason unfolds, I will update the plan I would have if I were the Mariners GM. This would be version 1.0, but the JJ Hardy deal already messed with my grand scheme considerably. Hence, this is version 1.1. The list is in order from most to least important, though I woudn't work linearly. If a scenario pops up where I can only have one or the other though, the higher one prevails:

  1. Sign Felix Hernandez to a long-term extension. The time is NOW! My whole offseason would revolve around him. If a deal can't be worked out, it is time to explore trades involving him. The Bavasi bunch should have done this years ago, but here we are now, and he's going to get paid. The good news is that the M's only have about $40 million committed to the 2010 payroll. They have the flexibility to get this done. I'd prefer a four or five year deal, but I'd be willing to talk about six for Felix. Long-term contracts are risky, but I'm willing to gamble with Felix. He's still young, he does not have any documented arm problems, and he's way more than just a thrower. He's a fiery, competitive pitcher with a golden arm. I'll take my chances with that.
  2. Keep Jack Wilson. I thought a deal involving Brandon Morrow and JJ Hardy had some potential, but no longer. I'd still prefer to work out an extension with Wilson that would cut his 2010 salary, but with all the payroll room, it is possible to pick up the option. It's clear that he needs to come back at this point. There are no other options that fit the team well.
  3. Re-sign Adrian Beltre. The Mariners could use Matt Tuiasosopo or Jack Hannahan at third base, but neither are Adrian Beltre. He is still fairly young, still an unbelievable defender, and could be a bit of a bargain given the sub-par, injury-plagued year he just finished. Plus, word is that he was a clubhouse force.
  4. Re-sign Russell Branyan. Russell the muscle won't be the same bargain he was last year, but he will still be worth the money. However, I'd like to bring him back as the DH if possible. That hinges more on some other priorities, namely the next one...
  5. Add a bat, likely a first baseman, and likely through a trade. When I look at the roster, I see two prime trade chips: Brandon Morrow and Jose Lopez. If Beltre is re-signed, Matt Tuiasosopo can take over at second base. I think he will be a better defender, and he may not be much worse of a hitter. Somebody is bound to be intrigued by Lopez's power at second base. As for Morrow, I wonder if he will ever be a consistent starter, but teams would surely be interested in an arm of his caliber. I don't have a specific trade in mind, but my thought is to move Russell Branyan to DH, and acquire a first baseman (Russell isn't an incredible defender). Sean White and Mike Carp could also be part of a trade to get a first baseman.
  6. Add a reliable starting pitcher through a trade. Whoever isn't dealt to get a bat is used to get a starter. He wouldn't be an amazing one, just a solid one. Maybe Carlos Silva can be that guy, but I'm not counting on it. The free agent pitching market is really thin, so I like the chances of bringing in the answer via a trade. I'd give Ben Sheets a look, but virtually nobody else in free agency. I think the most realistic idea is to use Morrow to get a bat, and then Lopez to get a starting pitcher.
  7. Re-sign Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Sweeney. I think that clubhouse benefits tremendously from one more year out of both of them. Sweeney and Branyan split time at DH, though I think Branyan would play close to every day by also serving as the backup first baseman. Griffey would be the primary left-handed bench bat. If both players are willing to accept those roles, they come back. Super sub Bill Hall gives the M's the ability to carry a couple guys who may never play the field.
  8. Offer Erik Bedard a one-year MLB deal...as a reliever. The M's could use a lefty in the bullpen. Why not take a chance with Bedard? His stuff should translate really well into that role. The change should alleviate the injury concerns too. I have no idea what Bedard would think of this idea, but if the best he can get out of other clubs are spring training invitations, he would have to consider this deal. I've seen speculation that the Red Sox may take a chance on him though, like they did with Brad Penny and John Smoltz. That would not surprise me, and I think any guaranteed MLB contract with a promise to start would trump this offer.
  9. Sign some veteran catchers to minor league deals. I would definitely go with Rob Johnson and Adam Moore as the catchers, but Kenji's departure leaves the overall depth a little thin. Someone with experience that's willing to play in Tacoma most of the season would be best. I'm sure there are several backstops out there that fit the bill. Keep one or two of them after they all compete in spring training.
The Mariners have limitless ways they could go this offseason, given all their financial flexibility, and improved organizational depth. They don't have amazing in-house options in many places, but in most places they at least have someone. Realistically, someone unproven is going to get a chance to play. My idea is that left field is Michael Saunders's to lose, and if he does, he gives it to Ryan Langerhans. Then, it's down to either Mike Carp or Matt Tuiasosopo getting a chance, and between those two I'd prefer Tui.

Still, outside help could (and should) come too. With so many options, I think prioritizing is as important as anything. There will always be lots of irons in the fire, and keeping organized amidst the chaos may be difficult. This front office is up to the challenge though.