Seattle balances cash with caution

Updated: December 8, 2009, 1:13 PM ET
By Buster Olney

A year ago, it was the Yankees who began the winter with their pockets full of cash, ready to spend on the best free agents, and after locking up CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett, they went on to win the World Series. This winter, the team most flush with money is the Seattle Mariners -- they've cleared tens of millions of dollars from their payroll since the beginning of the 2009 season.

The Mariners already have signed Chone Figgins to add to an excellent core of defense and pitching, and if Seattle wanted to land Jason Bay, the Mariners probably have the wherewithal to make that happen. But the Mariners believe that right-handed power hitters probably aren't a great fit in their park, that Bay isn't a perfect match for their defense-minded philosophy, and that while they are hopeful that No. 1 pick Dustin Ackley might make a shift to second base, they will resist assuming that this is going to happen and will keep their left-field option open for him.