BY Adam Lewis 12:43PM 04/03/2015

Mariners payroll $120M; Leone demoted, Smith up

The Mariners have more than half their 2015 payroll of $120 million — a big increase from $92 million a year ago — invested in three players. Care to guess which ones?

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik has a much higher payroll this season than he did in 2014. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Mariners president Kevin Mather wasn’t kidding when he intimated in October that the club planned to increase spending. According to an Associated Press report, the Mariners will begin the 2015 regular season with about a $120 million payroll, which ranks 12th among 30 MLB teams. 

In last year’s AP survey, the Mariners checked in at 18th with a payroll of about $92 million.

Seattle’s three-highest players — RHP Felix Hernandez ($24.86 million), 2B Robinson Cano ($24 million) and DH Nelson Cruz ($14.25 million) — account for more than half of the 2015 estimate, which the AP says checks in at $119,798,060.

By far, the Los Angeles Dodgers rank first in the league, with a payroll of about $273 million, while the New York Yankees are second with a payroll of $219 million.

Two of the bottom four teams play in the American League West. The Houston Astros rank 29th ($71 million) and the Oakland Athletics are pegged at 27th ($86 million).

It should be noted that, as with Forbes’ annual valuation of MLB franchises, the AP’s payroll findings are estimates. The details of MLB contracts aren’t public record, so the organization is bases its findings off public and private reports while taking into account bonuses, deferred money and cash transactions between clubs. That means that the sum of the players’ salaries won’t necessarily come out to equal the exact payroll.

Payrolls change as the season progresses as clubs add and remove players, make trades, pay bonuses, etc.

Here is a list of Mariners’ salaries:

Felix Hernandez $24,857,143

Robinson Cano $24,000,000

Nelson Cruz $14,250,000

Austin Jackson $7,700,000

Hisashi Iwakuma $7,000,000

Fernando Rodney $7,000,000

J.A. Happ $6,700,000

Seth Smith $6,000,000

Kyle Seager $4,500,000

Willie Bloomquist $3,000,000

Logan Morrison $2,725,000

Dustin Ackley $2,600,000

Justin Ruggiano $2,505,000

Rickie Weeks $2,000,000

Tom Wilhelmsen $1,400,000

Charlie Furbush $1,300,000

Brad Miller $527,600

Yoervis Medina $527,300

Danny Farquhar $527,000

Mike Zunino $523,500

Erasmo Ramirez $522,800

James Paxton $519,000

Dominic Leone $515,800

Taijuan Walker $513,100

Edgar Olmos $512,500

Chris Taylor $512,400

Jesus Sucre $509,300

David Rollins $250,617 (suspended for 80 games after testing for PEDs)

Mariners bring back Beimel

The Mariners and LHP Joe Beimel agreed to a minor-league contract Thursday.

The deal brings back Beimel back to the organization after he was one of the most effective members of Seattle’s bullpen in 2014, when he went 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 56 appearances that spanned 45 innings.

But talks between Beimel, 37, and the Mariners reportedly broke down this offseason because he was seeking a multi-year deal. He eventually signed with the Texas Rangers in early March but had a terrible spring.

In four games, the situational southpaw gave up 14 runs, 11 earned, in three innings. Of the 13 hits he allowed, three were home runs. The Rangers released him March 23.

Beimel is 27-33 with a 4.07 ERA during his 12-year career but 2014 marked a rebirth. Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon used him adeptly against lefties, and Beimel responded by having perhaps his best season.

In another Thursday move, the Mariners optioned LHP Mike Montgomery to Triple-A Tacoma. Earlier this week, the club sent RHP Erasmo Ramirez to the Tampa Bay Rays in a trade for Montgomery, a 25-year-old former top prospect in the Royals organization that has yet to pitch in the big leagues.

Leone optioned, Smith recalled

In a surprise move, the Mariners optioned reliever Dominic Leone to Triple-A Tacoma and recalled reliever Carson Smith prior to Friday night’s Cactus League game against the Colorado Rockies at Peoria Sports Complex.

Despite struggling this spring, it looked as if Leone made the club Sunday when Smith was demoted. But after allowing four runs in 2/3 of an inning Wednesday in a 12-4 loss to the White Sox, manager Lloyd McClendon decided that Leone would be better served to work out his issues with the Rainiers.

He was consistently up in the strike zone throughout spring, and hitters didn’t miss.

“One of the toughest days I’ve had,” Leone told The News Tribune. “Last year was different, I kind of came in not expecting anything, and when they optioned me down it was disappointing, but not like this, not after the season I had.”

As a rookie in 2014, Leone was an integral part of the best bullpen in baseball, going 8-2 with a 2.17 ERA in 66.1 innings that spanned 57 games.

He didn’t expect to be demoted after what amounted to one bad month.

“I understand I didn’t have the greatest of springs,” he said. “I always have things I need to work on. But it’s tough when it kind of blindsides you like that.”

In nine Cactus League appearances, the right-hander allowed 13 runs, 10 earned, 17 hits and three walks over seven innings. Smith, a late-season call-up in 2014, pitched better, allowing four earned runs over 8.2 innings.

So he was awarded the final right-handed spot in the bullpen.

“He just wasn’t throwing very well,” McClendon said of Leone. “He’s got to get some things straightened out. In good conscience, I just couldn’t take him north with me.”

When a player is optioned, he is required to spend at least 10 days in the minor leagues — unless replacing an injured player. The Mariners stayed in accordance with that rule by placing LHP Edgar Olmos on the 15-day disabled list Friday, retroactive to March 30, because of a shoulder impingement. The move made it permissible to recall Smith less than a week after they demoted him.

Happ shines in final spring outing

One of the biggest apprehensions in the Mariners spring, starting pitcher J.A. Happ, eased some concern with a two-hitter over four shutout innings Friday night in a 5-4 win over Colorado at Peoria Stadium.

Happ struck out four and walked a pair while throwing 69 pitches (44 strikes).

In the second inning, SS Brad Miller tripled in a pair of runs and scored on a sac fly by CF Austin Jackson. 1B Logan Morrisson had a run-scoring single in the third inning. Gabby Guerrero, the Mariners’ No. 3 prospect by, added a run in the seventh inning with a towering home run off the batter’s eye in center field.

The Mariners (12-17-2) play their final exhibition game Saturday vs. the Rockies at Salt River Fields. The Mariners open the 2015 regular season Monday vs. the Los Angeles Angels at 1:10 pm at Safeco Field (RHP Felix Hernandez vs. RHP Jered Weaver).



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