- Where is the playing time?
- Where is the roster space?
As good as the questions being asked are, those answers will come in spring training. They don't matter right now. Jack Zduriencik's goal is to acquire talent. The team designated RHP Gaby Hernandez for assignment to make room for Garko. Is Garko a more talented player, and more likely to contribute, than Hernandez? Absolutely, and that upgrade essentially cost $150,000...unless Garko racks up plate appearances, and in that case his use will justify giving him more money.
This is an odd free agent market. MLB Trade Rumors over the weekend noted that 37 former all-stars were still available in free agency (that number has shrunk some with signings this week). Still, the point is that there is a surprising amount of proven talent available only a few weeks before pitchers and catcher report.
Putting talent on the field is always a good thing. Giving up talent is a bad thing. If the Mariners had cut loose Dustin Ackley to make room for Garko then this would be a bad move. If they had hamstrung their roster and finances by signing Garko for multiple years and millions of dollars, this could be a bad move. The same goes for Eric Byrnes.
That is not what the Mariners are doing though. They know who the core of this roster is, and it won't get touched. Most of the roster is adjustable, and if a better piece can be added to the adjustable parts, then the move is worth it.
Ryan Garko isn't part of the core. Ditto for Eric Byrnes. As long as they don't cost a piece of the core, or prohibit the Mariners from keeping the core, the question is if they are a better supporting piece than what the team cut loose. I like Byrnes more than I like Tommy Everidge, and I like Garko more than I like Gaby Hernandez. The supporting cast is stronger now than it was at the start of the week. That's a good thing.
The reality is that the Mariners are about out of roster spots for free agents. Well, technically they are completely out of options, but there is a handful of players I am willing to cut loose on the roster if someone better is added on a one-year deal (in other words, added to the supporting cast). So, if Johnny Damon or Orlando Hudson comes knocking on the door, I would invite them in and we would chat. Their talent merits that much, and if they want to join the team on team-friendly terms, I'd strongly consider them.