Kyle Seager’s emotional farewell to fans and teammates in the Mariners’ 2021 season finale was filled with ovations, tears and hugs.
The official notification that he will no longer be a part of the organization he’s spent his entire professional career with wasn’t quite as endearing.
Multiple Major League Baseball sources confirmed that Seager received official notification that the Mariners would not exercise his 2022 option in an email from assistant general manager Justin Hollander on Thursday.
However, multiple team sources and another MLB source said that general manager Jerry Dipoto did attempt to notify Seager via phone call and text message on Wednesday that the organization was declining the option. And when Seager couldn’t be reached, Dipoto informed Andrew Lowenthal, Seager’s representative at Jet Sports, instead and that the email was just a formality.
Seager, who would have been paid $20 million for the 2022 season, will receive a $2 million buyout and be a free agent instead.
When Seager was removed from the ninth inning of the Mariners’ sold-out season finale with their playoff hopes extinguished, it seemed like a pretty clear sign that the organization had made the decision to move on from the veteran third baseman and this was his chance to say goodbye.
The nature of the official notification by email from the assistant general manager was something that bothered Seager and his family. But the relationship between Seager and the front office, including general manager Jerry Dipoto, had already disintegrated from fractured to somewhat nonexistent.
Seager said that he and Dipoto hadn’t spoken to each other in four years, not even in passing conversations. Dipoto countered that assertion on his weekly radio show on ESPN 710, saying they had spoken during spring training shortly after the video of former team president Kevin Mather, which included comments that Seager was overpaid and that it would be his final season in Seattle, went viral. Seager said that was part of a meeting that featured Dipoto, Hollander and Mariners chairman John Stanton, who did all of the talking for the organization.
But it became clear that both sides were ready for the relationship to come an end.
Since the early days of spring training, Seager maintained that the Mariners had no interest in bringing him back in 2022 due to the cost of the option year and their rebuilding plan to feature younger players who were acquired by Dipoto.
Seager had a solid season for Seattle, playing in 159 games and posting a .212/.285/.438 slash line with 29 doubles, a triple, 35 homers, 101 RBI, 59 walks and 161 strikeouts. He admittedly focused on power and producing runs for a top-heavy lineup that struggled to score all season. The approach sunk his batting average to a career low for a full season, but also resulted in career-high totals in homers and RBI. He was named a finalist for the American League Silver Slugger award at third base.
Selected in third round of the 2009 draft out of the University of North Carolina and projected to be a utility/bench player, Seager made his MLB debut on July 7, 2011. He took control of the third base job in 2012 and became an All-Star and Gold Glove winner in 2014. He signed a 7-year, $100 million extension before the 2014 season.
In 10½ big league seasons with the Mariners, Seager played in 1,480 games and posting a .251/.321/.442 slash line with 309 doubles, 14 triples, 242 homers and 807 RBI. He had nine seasons of at least 20 homers, tying Ken Griffey Jr. for the most in franchise history.
Seager, who turns 34 on Nov. 3, will enter free agency, hoping to sign with a playoff contender that needs a third baseman and veteran leader.