Jack Zduriencik is safe: Mariners "not thinking about changing the general manager at all"

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Mariners team president Chuck Armstrong told Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that general manager Jack Zduriencik will be back in 2011, which isn’t a surprise. In fact, given the praise heaped on him during Zduriencik’s first year on the job the surprising part is that his status is even in question near the end of Year 2.
Zduriencik made some very shrewd moves after being hired in October of 2008, and was quickly singled out as the next big thing in GMs. Too quickly, as it turned out. In his second year on the job Zduriencik went from turning everything he touched into gold to turning everything he touched into … well, Milton Bradley.
Bradley’s inept bat was far more of an issue than his personality, Cliff Lee’s time in Seattle lasted all of three months, Chone Figgins is having the worst season of his career after signing a $36 million deal as a free agent, the Mariners’ offense has been historically inept thanks to a combination of substandard production and Zduriencik’s failure to stockpile any lineup depth, and the front office has come under fire for their handling of the Josh Lueke situation.
Here’s how the GM described the Mariners’ mess of a season:

What I’ve said all along is that we are building this for the long haul, while attempting to stay as competitive as we can. We would all like to win now and are disappointed in how this season has gone, but you can never lose sight of the big picture. Our minor-league system had six of seven clubs in the playoffs, and two league champions. We’ve had two good drafts, we got back some very good pieces in trades. It was a tough year where we never got anything going. We needed a lot of things to go right, and it just didn’t happen.

Zduriencik looked like a genius last year and has looked pretty clueless this year, but as usual the truth is somewhere in between. He has a lot of work to do this offseason, but I still think the Mariners are in good hands long term, and if nothing else they’re certainly right not to panic and let him go because everything went wrong this season.

Jeffrey Springs, Rays agree to $31 million, 4-year contract

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach a deal, agreeing Wednesday to a $31 million, four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year old was among seven Rays who swapped arbitration figures with the team on Jan. 13. He began last season in the bullpen, transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 outings – 51 of them in relief – since he was acquired from Boston in February 2021.

Springs gets $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons. Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.

The 2025 and 2026 salaries can escalate by up to $3.75 million each based on innings in 2023-24 combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375. The `25 and ’26 salaries also can escalate based on finish in Cy Young Award voting in `23 and ’24: $2 million for winning, $1.5 million for finishing second through fifth in the voting and $250,000 for finishing sixth through 10th.

Tampa Bay’s option price could escalate based on Cy Young voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million for winning, $2 million for finishing second through fifth and $500,000 for sixth through 10th.

Springs would get $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings targets and the maximum if he meetings the innings targets and wins two Cy Youngs.

Springs’ ERA last season was the second lowest in franchise history for a pitcher working a minimum of 100 innings. Former Rays ace Blake Snell compiled 1.89 ERA on the way to winning the 2018 AL Cy Young.

In addition to finishing sixth in the AL in ERA, Springs allowed three runs or fewer in 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer 17 times. He joined Tampa Bay’s rotation on May 9, gradually increasing his workload over his next six appearances. Springs was 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Arbitration hearings start next week and the Rays remain with the most players scheduled to appear before three-person panels.

Springs had asked for a raise from $947,500 to $3.55 million and had been offered $2.7 million. Tampa remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Tampa Bay also agreed minor league contacts with catcher Gavin Collins and right-hander Jaime Schultz, who will report to major league spring training.

Infielder Austin Shenton and pitchers Anthony Molina and Joe LaSorsa also were invited to big league spring training.