MLB Offseason Preview: Seattle Marinersby Carter LaCorte November 16, 2021 2 comments
The end of the postseason drought feels near. The Mariners entered the final day of the 2021 season with a chance to make the playoffs, which was so much more than they expected when the season started. While they did lose that final game, the season still ended on good terms. Kyle Seager received an emotional send-off as his Mariners career likely comes to an end. For a team that did not have a high payroll last season, the Mariners have an amazing opportunity to shell out some dough and make them serious competitors in a division that could easily get worse around them.
General Manager Jerry DiPoto is always an active man, so you know that there will be rumors floating around this team. He angered his locker room when he dealt closer Kendall Graveman to the rival Astros for Abraham Toro. Sure, acquiring Diego Castillo days later probably helped regain his goodwill. But DiPoto can win over his team very easily with a big splash.
Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Offseason Previews.
The plan for the Mariners can range from being the winners of the offseason to going home empty. They will be connected to a lot of big names but the question is whether they will end up with someone impactful. Seattle has already been connected to shortstop Marcus Semien in free agency and Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds, to name a few. The Mariners have a ton of young and exciting talent rising in the pipeline. A big offseason could supplement those prospects nicely.
Keys to the Offseason
Get a Bat… Or Two
Seattle has committed to J.P. Crawford at shortstop. But they are still trying to get one of the big boys and move them over. However, Crawford cannot prevent them from signing a Corey Seager, or Semien. The Mariners’ lineup was carried by Mitch Haniger and Ty France last season. They were the only regulars with an OPS+ over 105. There is a hole at third with Seager leaving. Toro should not have the second base job locked down. There is room for improvement.
They could go for an outfielder, but that is a more iffy realm. Haniger could be moved to DH, so that is not a problem. But 2020 Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis is going to return after a lost 2021. Jarred Kelenic may have struggled as a rookie, but the hopes are still high for him. Baseball’s second-best prospect, Julio Rodriguez, is on the way. The outfield is not an emergency.
Go For a Veteran Starter
The rotation was led by Chris Flexen last season, and his 115 ERA+ was good, but not great. The only other above-average starter was Marco Gonzales, who still had a 5.28 FIP. Yusei Kikuchi is on the way out, and Tyler Anderson could be as well. The future does look bright. Logan Gilbert was solid in his first campaign and Justin Dunn looks good. George Kirby and Emerson Hancock are on the way. Seattle needs someone reliable to be a bridge. This market includes a generational amount of veteran pitching talent. If the Mariners could persuade Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, or Clayton Kershaw to come to Seattle, then they would look much better coming into the year.
Keep Finding Talent in Weird Places
The 2021 Mariners were led by pitchers who should not have been leaders. Flexen came from Korea. Drew Steckenrider and Paul Sewald were forgotten about. The former had a 2.00 ERA and the latter struck out 104. Casey Sadler came out of nowhere to allow just three earned runs in 40.1 innings. They made the bullpen an underrated unit. If the Mariners are going to spend, then they will probably have to neglect their ‘pen. They will hope to keep doing what they did last year in regards to pitching.
Corey Seager, 27, Shortstop
Out goes one Seager, could another take his spot? With the Mariners trying to keep Crawford at short, the younger Seager brother would be the best option, given that his defense lends him better to third or second base already. In 95 games for the Dodgers this season, Seager mashed. He hit 16 home runs with a .394 OBP and a .915 OPS. He already has family that loves the city. There is a match here.
Kevin Gausman, 30, Starting Pitcher
It could be due to him not being eligible for a qualifying offer again, but Gausman has not been talked about too much as the market opens. He had numbers good enough to win a Cy Young in some seasons, with a 2.81 ERA and 227 strikeouts in 192 innings. Gausman may not have the pedigree to mentor the young staff. However, he would be a perfect ace for the club.
Heath Hembree, 32, Relief Pitcher
Here is an oddball, but it fits into the reclamation project tier. Hembree had a 5.59 ERA in 60 games for the Reds and Mets last year. That is hardly something to be proud of. But in 58 innings, he struck out 83 batters. Hembree has a career 10.1 K/9. He does have a high FB%, which is a concern. The main issue that the Mariners would look to fix is his control. Hembree had a 3.7 BB/9.
Brad Miller, 32, Infielder
Drafted by Seattle in 2011, Miller was a Mariner from 2013 to 2015 before a trade to the Rays. For the past three seasons, he has become an effective hitter for the Cardinals and Phillies. In 267 games dating back to 2019, he has hit 40 home runs with an OPS of .812 and a 115 OPS+. Toro could easily not be the answer at second base. Miller is a good hitter who at worst would be a solid platoon option.
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