Mariners' Ownership Will Keep Payroll Steady for 2011 Season
"Mariner baseball will never be the same," Jay Buhner said Thursday when a group of former Mariners living in the area and some of the Seattle front office gathered to reminisce about one of the best guys any of them have ever known.
Earlier in the day Wednesday, however, it was all baseball at Safeco Field. It was the annual owners' meeting, and the owners set the budget for the 2011 season.
According to a source who was in the room, the Mariners, whose problems in the 2010 season started when they trimmed about $10 million from the 2009 budget, won't be going down that road again.
"The player payroll for the 2011 season will not go down," the source told FanHouse Thursday.
That means the Mariners will hand general manager Jack Zduriencik about $91 million to spend on the payroll next year to improve the team with the worst record in the American League. And the money total could get a bit higher.
"It's actually pretty complicated," the source said. "A lot depends on the Bradley situation and what happens there."
That would be Milton Bradley, the Mariner left fielder, to whom the club owes $12 million for the 2011 season. That money, plus the $5.5 million the team owes to the Cubs as part of the deal that sent pitcher Carlos Silva to Chicago in the Bradley trade, is the issue.
The Mariners may well be trying to move Bradley despite protestations from both the Bradley camp and from new manager Eric Wedge that the head-butting between the two in Cleveland that led to the Indians trading the outfielder is ancient history that won't figure into the 2011 season.
If they are successful, they'd probably have to pay most of Bradley's salary, but the differential would be added to what the Mariners would have available to spend.
As it is, only about $34 million of the $91 million is uncommitted with right fielder Ichiro Suzuki ($17 million), Bradley ($12 million), starting pitcher Felix Hernandez ($10 million), second baseman Chone Figgins ($9 million), shortstop Jack Wilson ($5 million) and center fielder Franklin Gutierrez ($4 million) locked into contracts.