Baseball players get paid a tremendous amount of money on a yearly basis. Of the 100 highest-paid athletes, playing in 11 sports, baseball has 27 names on that list. The Seattle Mariners signed second baseman Robinson Cano to a ten year, $240 million contract. The team hopes Cano can help lead Seattle back to the playoffs, somewhere it has not been since 2001 when they won 116 games.
Cano was lured away fro the New York Yankees in the offseason. The Yankees seemed primed to make Cano the heir apparent to Derek Jeter, who is retiring at the end of the season, but Cano decided to take the money and extra years on his contract. He brings a stat line of .309/.355/.504 to go along with 204 career home runs and 822 RBIs. He has racked up 1,649 hits in his nine years of service, all with the Yankees.
The Mariners playoff drought is 12 years, something no team ever wants to go through. Eric Wedge was the manager the past three seasons, but the M’s never finished better than fourth in that span, so it went in a different direction in signing Lloyd McClendon, who was a bench coach under Lim Leyland in Detroit. McClendon will take over the reigns in hopes, with the addition of Cano; can lead this team back to the playoffs. Cano will be the focal point of the lineup, but it is up to his supporting cast to help him out as he cannot do it all on his own. Corey Hart and Logan Morrison – both acquired in the offseason with Cano – will try and make sure Cano has pitches to hit. Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley are two young guys who have shown glimpses of the untapped potential both possess. Other young guys will have to step up and do their part for this lineup to be successful. Catcher Mike Zunnio is one of those young players who is poised to have success in 2014.
The pitching staff will look to improve on some success it enjoyed a season ago. The ace of the staff is Felix Hernandez, who too often is pitching a gem of a game, only to lose due to the lack of run support. Those are tough losses considering Hernandez is giving up two or fewer runs. Second in the rotation is Hisashi Iwakuma, who was brilliant in 2013. The duo combined for a 2.84 ERA. It was the back end of the staff that lacked the numbers for the Mariners to contend, as the rest of the pitching staff combined for a 5.36 ERA. It is a youth laden staff, but got a chance at the end of the season last season and will look to make an impact this season.
It will be no easy task for the Mariners to win the American League West, despite the addition of Cano. The Oakland Athletics are the two-time reigning, defending AL West champs and don’t want to relinquish their claim of being the division’s best team. Oakland can’t ever spend big money in free agency because its payroll is so small, so they make the best with what they can get. Last year 40-year old Bartolo Colon was the ace of the staff. He is no longer there and now it is 30-year old Scott Kazmir who will take that duty over. Could the A’s take a couple steps back with the other pitching it lost? The Texas Rangers were busy this offseason as, much like the Mariners. Texas acquired first baseman Prince Fielder from the Detroit Tigers and gave up second baseman Ian Kinsler in exchange among others in a blockbuster deal in November. Jurickson Profar will replace Kinsler and he is a young kid who can be one of the game’s best in years to come. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are no strangers to spending the big bucks on free agents as they’ve shelled out nearly a half of a billion dollars on multiple free agents, including Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton among others. However, the big bucks haven’t resulted in big success as the team has failed to qualify for the postseason every year since 2009. The Halo’s are stacked on paper, but you can’t win a World Series on paper. The Houston Astros are a ways away from being anywhere near contention for anything, other than baseball’s worst team for a little while.
The Mariners made arguably the biggest splash in free agency in signing Cano, but will he be able to lead this team to the AL West crown, or at least the playoffs