Since the end of the season, Seattle has been relatively quiet in signing free agents or making impact trades to bring in more offense. In the 2010 season the Seattle Mariners were last in hits, home runs and runs for the entire American League. As of 1/1/11, they have not made any moves that would imply that they will get out of the basement in the AL West for the 2011 season. Let's check out the moves they've made so far.
Miguel Olivo: catcher, 2 years at $7 million
This is one of their most influential acquisitions of the offseason and I believe this contract is a great deal for the team. In 2010 the Mariners had 3 different catchers with over 100 at bats: Adam Moore (205), Rob Johnson (178), Josh Bard (112). The offensive production of these three players is not worth mentioning but I can safely say it was next to nothing. Olivo hit 14 home runs last season and 23 the year before. That is a telling drop in homers considering he played the entire season. He did suffer 9 fewer strikeouts and got 8 more walks though. Even with his home run totals lower than the previous season he is a dramatic upgrade over their previous battery of catchers. Seattle will likely back Olivo up with Adam Moore since he keeps putting up fantastic numbers in the minor leagues.
Jack Cust: designated hitter, 1 year at $2.5 million
Russell Branyan was the DH for Seattle last season and hit 25 home runs which was welcome production in spite of his high strikeout totals. Still, the overall production was last in the AL for the position. Cust gives the Mariners a great batter's eye and power. He can hit 20+ homers with an OBP of .375-.400 (check here for info about the OBP stat). His only detriment at the plate is his propensity to strike out, he led the league in Ks 3 years in a row from '07-'09. Those strikeouts are a little less serious when you consider that (in limited playing time) he saw 4.18 pitches per plate appearance in 2010 and he traditionally is at the top of the league in this stat. This signing is a legitimate offensive upgrade over last season.
Erik Bedard: starting pitcher, 1 year at $1 million (base)
In 2008 the Mariners traded 5 prospects/rookies to the Orioles for Bedard who has since dealt with substantial injuries that have restricted him to pitching less than 100 innings in each of '08 & '09. He did not pitch at all in 2010. It's also important to note that the one million dollars listed above as his salary is only the base salary, he could earn up to $5.6 million based on his performance. If he does meet those performance qualifications though it will be money well spent for the Mariners. Another team bonus regarding this contract is that it's non-guaranteed. If Bedard doesn't make the team out of Spring Training then he won't cost the team much at all. It's the ultimate low risk signing for the Mariners but doesn't really provide them with much depth since it's very unlikely that Bedard put up numbers beyond that of a #4 starter. The signing is good but it doesn't do much to meet the teams most glaring needs.
Brendan Ryan: shortshop/second base **As of 1/4/11 Ryan and the Mariners have yet to come to a contract agreement**
The Mariners traded minor leaguer Maikel Cleto for Ryan recently. He's good enough defensively but his offensive numbers are anemic. I've read that the idea is for Ryan to be a temporary option while they're waiting for Dustin Ackley to take over second base. The Mariners didn't give up much for Ryan but Brendan Ryan is not a good option as an everyday player at any position.
Esteilon Peguero: shortstop, $2.9 million
The only reason I even mention this signing is because of it's cost. Peguero is only 17 and will certainly not see a major league field t in 2011. The scouting reports on him are largely excellent given his age. This is a signing that will prove it's worth through the next 3-4 years.
The following players were signed to lesser contracts and will likely have lesser impacts on the team in 2011. It is possible that many of these players do not even make the team out of Spring Training.
Charlie Haeger: Charlie is a knuckle-baller who was most recently with the Los Angeles Dodgers. His recent numbers in the minors and majors aren't too great. This can be expected from a knuckler. He has shown that he can do very well at the AAA level and with the Mariners stellar defense he could be effective to eat innings when necessary.
Ryan Langerhans: Ryan is an outfielder who has over 1000 major league at bats to his name. His production has been so-so since he really came onto the scene in 2005. As a minor league signing the Mariners coudn't go wrong here.
Denny Bautista: A right-handed reliever who threw 33 innings for the Giants last season, put up decent numbers. He's a veteran and had a lower WHIP than usual but still walked 27 in those 33 innings. Denny will most-likely find time in the pen sometime in 2011 to moderate effecetiveness.
Chris Gimenez: He's put up pretty poor numbers the past two seasons with limited time in the majors. His minor league numbers are decent though. Gimenez has played around the field at catcher, outfield and first base. Likely a minor league depth signing.
Royce Ring: Ring is a lefty reliever drafted in the first round by the White Sox in 2002. His success in the big leagues is mixed but he hasn't really been given much of a chance recently. I think if he works out well in Spring Training and makes the team he could be productive in 2011.