The Mets are facing a money crunch for 2011

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Adam Rubin of ESPN New York takes a look at the Mets’ salary commitments for 2011 and concludes that the situation looks dire:

Even if the Mets had 16 players making the major league minimum next
season — which is impossible — the salary commitments for 2011 already
total $120 million.

The nine who make up that amount are Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran. Jason Bay, David Wright Jose Reyes, K-Rod, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and Ryota Igarashi.

Of course that crunch isn’t new for next year. It’s obviously been felt this year too, as the Mets made no moves of consequence at the deadline and were reported to be demanding money back from any team with whom they negotiated.

Of course, given how poorly last winter’s big free agent signing has gone so far, the Mets probably wouldn’t have been buyers this winter regardless.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?