Seattle has already lifted Robinson Cano from the Yankees, and added the bats of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison to their lineup, and they might not be finished. Ownership has to be convinced to stay the course financially, though. Players like Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka, trade candidate David Price, and free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz could help the Mariners in their efforts to rejuvenate the franchise, but they will all come at a significant price.
Other than Cano and Felix Hernandez, the Mariners have only two players set to make over $3 million next season -- starter Hisashi Iwakuma will earn $6.5 million and Hart's base salary guarantees him $6 million, though he could make an additional $7 million in performance-based incentives. Baseball Reference currently projects their payroll to be $81.6 million after estimations for their arbitration cases are considered.
So, despite the lavish new deal the handed to Cano, the M's would still have a relatively modest payroll if the season started today.
Adding Tanaka is likely to cost at least $17 million per season, and the consensus seems to be that he can command a six- or seven-year deal.
Trading for David Price would cost the Mariners several of their top prospects, so the team would likely prefer to sign him to an extension to maximize their return. However, Price's agent has said his client would not consider an extension with Seattle if he ended up there.
Nelson Cruz could fit into one of the corner outfield spots vacated by Mike Morse and Raul Ibanez, but teams have been hesitant to meet his exorbitant contract demands -- he's reportedly seeking 4-years, $75 million. Cruz served a 50-game suspension last season for using performance-enhancing drugs, and since the Mariners have already added Hart and Morrison -- both players could see time in the outfield -- the team might not see Cruz as their best option to improve unless they can negotiate a much more team-friendly deal.
General manager Jack Zduriencik has taken a bold approach to the offseason, but if the Mariners are going to continue their roster reconstruction, Zduriencik will need the go-ahead from CEO Howard Lincoln. The franchise has been the subject of some pretty scathing criticism this offseason, but a successful 2014 season would go a long way toward winning back the fan base.