Mariners will move Chone Figgins back to third base
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said Chone Figgins will play third base this season, after spending the 2010 season at second base. Zduriencik also said the Mariners don't have much payroll space left. "We're going to have to do some things creatively if we do anything at all," Zduriencik said of any more offseason moves.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Mariners have added a new third baseman without having to spend an additional dime.
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik confirmed Friday that the team has asked Chone Figgins to move back to third base after spending 2010 as its second baseman. Figgins agreed to the move, meaning he'll be back manning the hot corner, where he compiled some of his best defensive statistics over the years, but before he joined the Mariners.
Seattle had few available options where third base was concerned and the team's lack of budget room has left it hard-pressed to bring in new players from elsewhere. The Mariners have said they will not lower payroll from the roughly $93.5 million they began last season with, though Zduriencik confirmed much of that is already used up.
"We didn't have a lot of flexibility going in," he said. "And we did some things in some areas where I thought we had some need."
That includes bringing in free-agent designated hitter Jack Cust, catcher Miguel Olivo and infielder Brendan Ryan. But with big contract money still owed Milton Bradley, coupled with raises to Felix Hernandez and Franklin Gutierrez, and pending arbitration cases, the team has little wiggle room to add even minimal-salaried players.
"We're going to have to do some things creatively if we do anything at all," Zduriencik said.
As things stand, the Mariners appear to be at just more than $83 million with their roster as it currently sits. Throw in $4.5 million still owed the Cubs for Carlos Silva, another $1 million still owed Kansas City on Yuniesky Betancourt, plus another $1 million for easily-reachable incentives on several contracts, the team appears to be very close to the $90 million mark.
But then, the team also has to budget for pitcher Erik Bedard, who The Associated Press reported has $6.35 million in incentives in his deal beyond a $1 million base salary. Budgeting for even half of those would take the Mariners right up to their 2011 payroll limit.
Hernandez earned $7.2 million last year but in 2011 is set to earn $11.7 million total in salary and bonuses, including an additional $1 million for winning the Cy Young Award. Gutierrez climbs from $2.32 million to $4.31 million.
The team avoided arbitration with Ryan by agreeing to a two-year deal with the infielder Friday. Terms were not released.
Ryan appears to be the front-runner to land the starting second-base job with Figgins back at third, though veteran Josh Wilson also will compete at spring training.
David Aardsma, Brandon League and Jason Vargas are arbitration eligible.
Aardsma is expected to see his salary jump from $2.75 million to roughly $4.5 million, League could surpass $2 million and Vargas could also shoot well beyond $2 million after a breakout season in 2010.
The team had been exploring a trade of Aardsma last month, hoping to acquire talent while possibly freeing up more budget space. But that changed when Aardsma was diagnosed with a torn labrum in his hip and underwent surgery this week.
Zduriencik said the surgery was more extensive than first expected and that Aardsma might not be ready for opening day. The team does have one-time closer League and hard-throwing youngsters Dan Cortes and Josh Lueke in the fold, but any hopes of dealing Aardsma before the season opens are all but gone.
The Figgins move has been expected after the Mariners acquired Ryan from the St. Louis Cardinals a month ago. Zduriencik had a phone conversation with Figgins just before Christmas and has high hopes for the player entering the second year of a four-year, $36-million deal.
"His reputation has been — I think we've all seen it — that he's a very good defensive third baseman," Zduriencik said.
Zduriencik said part of the struggles Figgins went through early last season might have been from adjusting to second base, as well as a move to No. 2 in the order and the weight of playing for a new team. Zduriencik said Figgins might be in store for better things "if he gets back to a comfort level where he feels he's been successful there."
• The Mariners have no plans to discipline broadcaster Mike Blowers for his DUI arrest in Pierce County on Dec. 2. Mariners vice-president (communications) Randy Adamack said Blowers expressed regret over the incident when the team spoke to him about it. "We know his record is clean except for that incident and we told him it's not acceptable and it better not happen again," Adamack said. Blowers was arraigned Wednesday, but no further court date has been set.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or email@example.com.
Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners
|The Mariners have said they will be operating this season with roughly the same payroll as 2010, about $93.5 million. That means the team doesn't have much room left for moves, with close to $90 million already accounted for. A look at salaries and prorated bonuses for the 2011 projected 25-man roster, plus Dustin Ackley, who is guaranteed $1.5 million:|
|Milton Bradley||$12 million|
|Felix Hernandez||$11.7 million|
|Chone Figgins||$9.5 million|
|Jack Wilson||$5 million|
|David Aardsma||$4.5 million (est.)|
|Miguel Olivo||$3 million (est.)|
|Jack Cust||$2.5 million|
|Jason Vargas||$2.5 million (est.)|
|Brandon League||$2.5 million (est.)|
|Dustin Ackley||$1.5 million|
|Erik Bedard||$1 million|
|Brendan Ryan||$1 million (est.)|
|Michael Saunders||$435,000 (est.)|
|Shawn Kelley||$435,000 (est.)|
|Doug Fister||$435,000 (est.)|
|Adam Moore||$430,000 (est.)|
|Justin Smoak||$430,000 (est.)|
|Garrett Olson||$424,000 (est.)|
|Matt Tuiasosopo||$424,000 (est.)|
|Dan Cortes||$414,000 (est.)|
|Cesar Jimenez||$414,000 (est.)|
|Josh Lueke||$414,000 (est.)|
|Michael Pineda||$414,000 (est.)|
|Easily-reachable incentives||$1 million (est.)|
|*Carlos Silva||$4.5 million|
|*Y. Betancourt||$1 million|
|Total||$89,906,500 million (est.)|
|*Money owed to former players|
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.