- Dan Szymborski, ESPN Insider
The 2013 season wasn't an exciting one for the Seattle Mariners, with the team finishing with 91 losses, their fifth losing season in six tries. Only the addition of the Houston Astros to the AL West enabled the M's to break their string of last-place finishes. With patience for the team's current rebuilding process waning -- and more than a decade since the team's last divisional title -- the Mariners have approached this offseason with one goal: get better quickly. The team has an impressive stable of minor-league arms, but tomorrow is stubbornly refusing to turn into today.
After getting involved in the bidding for most of the top free agents, Seattle finally got their man, former Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. Cano comes with a hefty price tag, nearly a quarter of a billion dollars over the next decade.
But how good is the rest of the team that Cano is joining? Are they a serious contender in the AL West after the addition? Robinson Cano is one of the best players of this generation and a future Hall of Famer, but teams that have simply paid for a top star and hoped that it would be enough to turn the franchise around have generally been disappointed with the results. There are 24 other players on the roster, and while Cano won't be the only star on any team that has Felix Hernandez, it's still a team that has many holes to fill.
To see where the Mariners stand right now after the Cano signing, I ran the ZiPS projections for the 2014 team and tallied the WAR (wins above replacement) of every player on the roster. Replacement level is set at roughly 48 wins over the course of a 162-game season. So in a division with the Rangers and A's, you want to see them around 90 wins, enough to be a threat to win the division and not to just grab one of the considerably less valuable wild card spots. That means they need to come up with roughly 42 WAR.
Dan Szymborski argues that the Seattle Mariners must stay aggressive this winter after signing Robinson Cano in free agency.