It’s been 19 seasons without playoff baseball for the Seattle Mariners. The “Mad Trader” Jerry Dipoto will be entering his sixth offseason as General Manager of the Mariners. It is always interesting to see what moves he pulls off. Unfortunately, they haven’t translated into success for Seattle. What moves do they need to make to finally end the drought?
A big bat should be the focus of Dipoto and the Mariners. While youngster Kyle Lewis made a strong showing in this shortened season, other touted prospects like Shed Long and Evan White disappointed. Overall the lineup did not produce as the Mariners were next to last in OPS and HRs and in the bottom five of runs scored in the American League. Dylan Moore showed he can do it all and Jarred Kelenic is likely to break camp with the team. The fact still remains that Kyle Seager is another year older and of the nine players with over 100 PAs this season, five of them had an OPS of below .675.
A pitcher who misses bats would be nice. Yusei Kikuchi led the starters with a K per inning. Marco Gonzales, Justus Sheffield, and Justin Dunn are with him in this rotation for a while, but the Mariners need to get an ace. Unfortunately, Robbie Ray is already off the board as he may have been a great fit and in the price range for Dipoto. There are a couple of other starters out there in free agency and Seattle has pieces to move in a trade.
Keys to the Offseason
Get the Big Bat
Dipoto needs to pry that wallet open and sign a solid hitter for the middle of the lineup. The aforementioned Seager is 33 and will be heading into the final year of his contract unless Seattle picks up his option for 2022. The Mariners have a few young hitters who could make an impact soon, but they need an impact bat, or two, now to allow them to put runs on the board while their young kids come into their own.
A Veteran Arm
Kikuchi had a solid season. Don’t let the 5.17 ERA fool you. The 29-year-old had a 4.34 SIERA and a 3.78 xFIP. He also allowed only three HRs in 47 IP and struck out 47. The thing is that he is the oldest pitcher in the rotation right now and only has 41 starts at the major league level. A veteran who can miss bats and give them quality innings at the top of the rotation will have a much-needed trickle-down effect on the rest of the young arms.
Joc Pederson, 28, OF
The seven-year vet is hitting free agency for the first time. Pederson had a career year in 2019 blasting 36 HRs with an .876 OPS. This season threw a monkey wrench in many players’ plans and Joc was no different. He had an off-year and batted .190 with a .681 OPS. His plate discipline seemed to take a step back as well with just 11 walks to 34 strikeouts. This would be a perfect signing for the Mariners. Due to last season’s struggles, Seattle could get a slight discount. Pederson is heading into his age-29 season and could fill either corner outfield spot, DH, or even center field in a pinch. This signing would also give Seattle flexibility with Kelenic’s service time and where to put Moore. Look for Pederson to get a four-year deal between $12-$16 million per year.
Charlie Morton, 37, SP
Morton is getting up there in age but has shown his durability over the past few years. Is he reliable? Yes. In 2019, the righty set career highs in starts (33) and innings pitched (194 2/3). Does he miss bats? Yes. Since 2017, Morton has a 28.4 percent K rate, and he’s paired that with a walk rate just under eight percent. Morton also brings an abundance of playoff experience having thrown 55 2/3 innings over the last four postseasons. Morton would be a nice fit as a veteran presence to allow the younger starters like Dunn and Sheffield to settle into the back end of the rotation. Expect Morton to get a one-year deal of $12-$16 million with a possible team option for 2022.
Jake Odorizzi, 30, SP
The former first-round pick had a down 2020 with the Minnesota Twins due mostly to injuries. But, Odorizzi was a solid, reliable pitcher from 2014-2019, starting at least 28 games in each season. While he was never known as a big strikeout guy, Odorizzi struck out more than 25 percent of batters faced in 2019 for the first time. He will be 31 before the 2021 season but likely has a few more good years in his arm. Figure on a three-year deal of about $16-$20 million a year.
Follow Johnnie Black on Twitter @jball0202
Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images