Today the Mariners made one of the best moves they could have possibly made this offseason when they extended Kyle Seager for seven years. I mean, imaginge the Mariners came into this offseason with the opportunity to sign a player coming off of a 5.5 win season at the age of 27. Imagine that player costing only $100 million over seven years.
Dave Cameron and assuredly many others have compared Seager to Pablo Sandoval – Seager’s best parallel on the free agent market – and Seager fares pretty well in those comparisons. He’s actually been better than Kung Fu Panda, and is a year younger. There will be some who point to this as some sorty of weird slight against a team that hasn’t been successful in a while, or a coast that seems to be forgotten by the four letter sports network, but that might not be valid. Sandoval is a free agent. We’ve seen his market develop. The hype surrounding Sandoval isn’t unfair praise for a player who was flirting with the Red Sox, just that flirting is more compelling than the occupational monogamy Seager is forced into.
That monogamy also caused Seager to give the Mariners something of a discount. While Sandoval is expected to receive some $20 million per year depending on which iteration of his Red Sox agreement you believe at this time, the four free agent years that Seager gave up will cost the Mariners about $10 million less than four average years of Sandoval’s pact. Seager would have seen his first shot at arbitration this year, but ultimately would have been under control for a relatively inexpensive, low-risk price tag for three more years.
Of course, it’s commonly expected that Sandoval’s stature will cause him to deteriorate more quickly, so while the Mariners locked Seager up through age 33 and the Red Sox will own Sandoval’s rights through age 32, its not unreasonable to expect that Seager’s age 30-33 will be substantially better than Sandoval’s age 30-32. Seager is starting at a higher peak, costs less even in the free agent years that the Mariners bought out than Sandoval, and figures to age slower. Seager is a great example of why signing free agents to monster deals isn’t the only way to prosperity. The Mariners have cost-certainty on Seager without having to break the bank in 2015, though at the time of this writing the figures of this deal aren’t clear.
This deal isn’t exactly the kind of major discount we’ve become accustomed to in recent years, however. Seager’s extension is basically the same in terms of years and money as Dustin Pedroia received last year as a player who was past his potential arbitration years but on a contract that included three more years of team control. Seager is younger, but the deal he received includes a much less steep discount than contracts signed by Paul Goldschmidt and Anthony Rizzo in recent years.
Then again, Seager signed for less than one-third of what Giancarlo Stanton is guaranteed, despite Being worth about three-quarters of a win fewer than Stanton per 600 plate appearances.