The Mariners have informed Kyle Seager that they won’t be exercising their $20M club option on the third baseman’s services for the 2022 season, The Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish reports. Seager will instead receive a $2M buyout and enter the free agent market.
The team won’t announce the move and other roster decisions until the offseason is officially underway, though assistant GM Justin Hollander e-mailed Seager with the news earlier this week. As Divish noted, “the cold, formal nature of being notified by email” is indicative of how the relationship between Seager and the front office has soured, as Seager said earlier this month that it had been years since he had personally spoken to GM Jerry Dipoto.
It brings an unfortunate end to the longtime relationship between Seager and the Mariners, as he played 11 seasons for the M’s after being selected in the third round of the 2009 draft. This long tenure has placed Seager among the likes of Edgar Martinez, Ichiro Suzuki, and Ken Griffey Jr. near the top of many of the franchise’s all-time statistical lists, as Seager has hit .251/.321/.442 with 242 home runs over 6204 plate appearances in a Mariners uniform.
Seager’s time in Seattle didn’t include any postseason appearances, however, and his performance did naturally dip as he got older. Seager generated 13.8 fWAR over his first four seasons, and then after signing a seven-year, $100M extension in the 2014-15 offseason, has compiled 21 fWAR over the life of that contract. Among the many inflammatory comments made by former Mariners CEO Kevin Mather in his infamous rotary club speech back in February, Mather praised Seager for being a good clubhouse leader but also referred to the third baseman as “probably overpaid.”
It seems like Mather’s opinion might have extended throughout upper management, given by Dipoto’s rather bizarre decision to avoid the team’s longest-tenured player. As Dipoto revamped the Mariners’ roster over the last few years, Seager was the last veteran remaining, in large due to a provision in his contract that would have turned the 2022 club option into a player option in the event of a trade. In short, there didn’t seem to be much of a chance that the Mariners would exercise Seager’s option, and they will now move on to looking for a new third baseman (if Abraham Toro isn’t given a clear crack at the everyday job).
Seager turns 34 this week, and he’ll now make his first trip into the open market after a mixed bag of platform year. Seager slashed only .212/.285/.438, with a career-high 24% strikeout rate and 29.6% whiff rate — disturbing numbers for a player who has been a pretty solid contact hitter for much of his career. Seager’s hard-hit ball rate was also below average, though on the plus side, he did hit a career-best 35 home runs. His third base glove has also remained strong in the eyes of the Outs Above Average (+4) and UZR/150 (+3.9) metrics, though Defensive Runs Saved (-3) wasn’t as impressed.
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