The Mariners would have loved to have been able to trade Sexson, but his $14 million salary this season made that nearly impossible. So now Seattle is eating the rest of that money -- $6,120,219 Sexson is owed from Friday through the end of the season -- in what may be the first of multiple moves to rid the last-place team of underperforming veteran players.
That amount would be reduced by a prorated share of the $390,000 minimum salary if Sexson signs with another team.
"I think we gave Richie a lot of rope ... and there just wasn't enough improvement," said Mariners interim general manager Lee Pelekoudas.
The Mariners, with a payroll of $117 million, expected to reach their first postseason since 2001. Instead they entered Thursday's game at Oakland at 36-55, 18 games out in the AL West. Seattle has already fired general manager Bill Bavasi plus manager John McLaren and remains on track to become the first team with a $100 million payroll to lose 100 games.
The Mariners also placed opening-day starter Erik Bedard on the 15-day disabled list with stiffness in his left shoulder. The move, retroactive to July 5, means Bedard will be eligible to return on July 20 -- and will miss some chances to be showcased for teams interested in possibly trading for him before the July 31 deadline for deals without waivers. Bedard has just six wins in 15 starts and has not pitched since going five innings on July 4, extending his trend of not being able to pitch deep into games.
|Richie Sexson will make $14 million this year. (AP)|
The Mariners aren't done making moves, either. With right-hander Felix Hernandez scheduled to come off the disabled list and pitch in Kansas City on Friday, the team has to create an opening on the roster. Most likely it will be a pitcher who is moved, as interim manager Jim Riggleman noted after Thursday's 3-2 loss to the A's.
"We've got to break down the pitching and see what we have, who's available," Riggleman said.
Sexson, a 33-year-old native of Brush Prairie, Wash., was batting .218 with just 30 RBI in 74 games and has often been benched in favor of light-hitting and seldom-used Miguel Cairo. McLaren, on his way out last month, said Sexson was trying too hard and that a change of teams probably would be best for his sagging career.
Willie Bloomquist, Seattle's utility player and a close friend of Sexson's, agreed.
"He had to go through a lot of stuff that a lot of other people don't have to," Bloomquist said. "He showed up to play every day and played hard. It seemed more often than not the ball didn't bounce his way ... but my hat's off to him the way he kept his composure and played hard. Someone's going to snag him up and I hope he takes off and does real well."
Even during his 39- and 34-home run seasons for the Mariners in 2005 and '06, Sexson wasn't embraced by Seattle fans since arriving from Arizona with a four-year, $50 million contract on Dec. 15, 2004. Two days later, Adrian Beltre signed to overshadow Sexson.