The Mariners have signed CF Ichiro Suzuki to a reported five-year/$100MM or so contract. This is noteworthy on a couple of counts. The first is the average salary of $20MM per year. This bodes well for the players who are going to be free agents this winter as it sets a target for them to measure relative to their own skills. Second, it means Ichiro will remain the cornerstone of the Mariners and likely be the first player to go into the Hall-of-Fame as a Seattle Mariner.
Finally, putting to rest the nascent rumors that the Mariners will deal Ichiro rather than lose him to free agency are put to rest, and the team can focus, to the degree a play-off contender can, on what its 2008 roster will be. With that, the Mariners have recalled top hitting prospect, CF Adam Jones, from AAA and will make him their regular RF.
Entering 2007, Jones was universally regarded as the top prospect in the Mariners system. Baseball America ranked him #1 in the system, and John Sickels gave him the highest grade in their system (B+ along with Brandon Morrow.) Both experts say similar things about Jones.
Adam Jones has done nothing to change those assessments with the exception that his power has grown beyond anything he had previously accomplished. With 21 HRs this season, and 47 XBH overall, Jones has surpassed his previous career highs of 17 HRs and 44 XBHs that he set last season between AAA and the majors. He has done this in just 340 ABS versus 454 in 2006. He is striking out a lot (86) and walking too little (28), though.
If Jones' defense lives-up to its hype, then the Mariners will have shrunk the OF to basically the left field line. This should do wonders for their pitchers by eliminating extra base hits and preventing runners from advancing the extra base.