Kyle Seager and Seattle Mariners have agreed to a seven-year $100 million contract extension with a club option for an eighth season (2022). Seager's average annual salary will be $14.3 million. Seager is the first player in Major League history to land a nine-figure deal without hitting above .268 in any season.
The 27-year-old was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The new deal allows Seattle to eat all of his arbitration years and gain control of Seager through what should be his prime. He made $540,000 last season and now joins pitcher Felix Hernandez, second baseman Robinson Cano and new outfielder Nelson Cruz as the highest-paid members of the team.
The Mariners are spending big bucks in hopes of entering title contention. However, this deal could be their biggest gamble for years to come.
Grade for Seager: A+
It's hard to give Seager anything less than an 'A' grade here. He has never hit above .268 or had a 200-hit season. He is a one-time All-Star, but is now paid like one of the game's best players. Kudos to Seager and his agent for getting this deal done.
Seager absolutely deserved a pay raise, just maybe not one this big. He enjoyed an All-Star, Gold Glove and MVP-caliber season in 2014. He had career-highs in home runs (25), RBIs (96) and triples (4), as well as OBP (.334), SLG (.454) and OPS (.788).
Major League revenues are skyrocketing due to league-wide and local television deals. With that, salaries are rising too. It's estimated that salaries in 2014 averaged $3.8 million, representing a 27-percent hike from $3 million in 2010.
Grade for the Mariners: C
Seager may end up proving Seattle right over the course of this contract, but right now it's a pretty big gamble for a player that is just learning to hit to all fields. If he does excel into his prime years, paying him less than $15 million annually will turn into a bargain. On the other hand, if he declines, is inconsistent or injury prone, Seager will quickly become one of baseball's most overpaid players.
Evan Longoria signed a 10-year extension worth $100 million with the Tampa Bay Rays back in 2012. Since then his batting average has dipped noticeably, but the power numbers are still there. He hit 32 home runs with 88 RBIs in 2013 and 22 homers with 92 RBIs this past season. He has also only missed two games over the last two seasons while playing on a declining Rays team. Prior to signing his nine-figure deal, Longoria was a three-time All-Star and perennial MVP candidate. Longoria was, and is, a $100 million man that deserves it.
Seager's all-around numbers didn't spike until this past season when he was hitting behind Cano. With Cruz in the fold as well now, Seager should continue to receive a steady diet of good pitches.
The Mariners have money to spend and it's great that they are spending it on homegrown talent, but seven years seems too risky.