Seattle Mariners 2022 Season Preview

Seattle Mariners 2022 Season Preview

by April 1, 2022 0 comments

The Seattle Mariners are the unfortunate owners of the longest active postseason drought in Major League Baseball. The Mariners last made the playoffs in 2001, and despite low expectations, made a very strong push to make it in 2021. In fact, a late-season surge brought Seattle within needing a win and some help on the final day of last season’s campaign.

While the Mariners ended up losing on the final day of the season, a 90-win result should give fans lots of hope going into 2022. The playoff push late last season brought excitement back to the city of Seattle. With a young crop of talented ballplayers, they should continue to see success for years to come. With the season set to kick off soon, the Mariners have already added some key Major League talent via both free agency and trades.

Make sure to check out all of our other Season Previews.

Additions 

Seattle’s miraculous 90-72 record in 2021 saw them finish just short of making the postseason. In an attempt to capitalize on their current young Major League talent, they have added some big names this offseason. They shelled out significant money to bolster their starting rotation. They also traded away some highly ranked prospects to shore up their lineup. MLB Pipeline ranked the Seattle farm system as the second-best in baseball in 2021, so there is certainly more talent on the way.

Adam Frazier, 2B 

Frazier joins the Mariners via a trade with the San Diego Padres that was actually completed prior to the lockout in late 2021. In exchange for the All-Star, the Mariners sent left-handed reliever Ray Kerr and outfielder Corey Rosier back to the Padres. Frazier split time with both San Diego and the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, slashing .305/.368/.411 with a 4.0 WAR over 155 games. He was also named to his first All-Star Game and is currently in his final year of arbitration. The left-handed hitter is a contact-first hitter who is not known for much power at the plate. He will be a very consistent bat in the Mariners lineup this season.

Robbie Ray, LHP, Five Years, $115 Million        

The Mariners showed the baseball world that they are ready to compete by inking the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner to a five-year deal. The deal includes an opt-out after the third year and a full no-trade clause for the left-handed starter. Now entering his age 30 season, Ray clearly had a career year in 2021. He finished with a league-best 2.84 ERA, a league-best 1.045 WHIP, and also topped the league in strikeouts with 248 over 193 ⅓ innings. This all culminated in a 6.7 WAR for the new Seattle ace. Even if his production dips a little from this magnificent 2021 campaign, Ray should be dependable for the next several seasons in the Mariners’ massive ballpark.

Jesse Winker, OF 

Earlier this month, the Mariners landed both Winker and Eugenio Suarez from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for right-handed pitcher Justin Dunn, left-handed pitching prospect Brandon Williamson, outfielder Jake Fraley, and right-handed pitching prospect Connor Phillips. Winker was named to his first All-Star Game in 2021 after slashing .305/.394/.556 with 24 home runs, 32 doubles, and a 2.7 WAR across 110 games. The left-handed hitter will be under contract with the Mariners through the 2023 season. He should be their everyday left fielder until then. In 413 Major League games, Winker has accumulated 66 home runs, a 5.4 WAR, and a slash line of .288/.385/.504.

Eugenio Suarez, 3B 

The other main return in the offseason trade with the Reds, Suarez adds some power to the Mariners lineup. In 1,001 career games, Suarez has mashed 193 home runs with 547 runs batted in, slashed .252/.334/.466, and accumulated a 14.1 career WAR. However, the right-handed hitter is coming off the worst season in his eight-year career. He hit just .198/.286/.426, stuck out 171 times and had a -0.7 WAR in 2021. Suarez is signed through the 2024 season with a club option for 2025, so the Mariners are surely banking on his production returning to what it has been in the past.

Subtractions 

The Mariners will be fortunate enough to return the majority of their core going into the 2022 season. In their big trades with the Padres and Reds, Seattle gave up some intriguing prospects and Major League depth pieces. However, their returns in these trades will surely help them continue to compete in the American League.

Kyle Seager, 3B, Retired 

The longtime staple at the hot corner in Seattle announced his retirement from baseball in December. After being drafted in the third round of the 2009 MLB Draft, Seager had the luxury of spending his entire 11-year career with the Mariners. Between 2012 and 2021, Seager played in at least 95% of Seattle’s games each season. On top of that, his leadership was prevalent during the team’s push for the postseason in 2021. For his career, the 34-year-old All-Star slashed .251/.321/.442, slugged 242 home runs, and finished with a 36.9 WAR.

Yusei Kikuchi, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays 

Both Kikuchi and the Mariners declined options that would have kept the Japanese native in Seattle for the 2022 season. Kikuchi was the Seattle’s lone All-Star in 2021. He pitched to a 3.48 ERA and a 6-4 record in the first half. However, the southpaw had an abysmal second half and was eventually removed from the rotation during the Seattle stretch run. Ultimately, Kikuchi agreed to a three-year, $36 million contract with the Blue Jays. The soon-to-be 31-year-old will look to resurrect his career in Toronto.

James Paxton, LHP, Boston Red Sox 

Paxton had a very rough start to the 2021 campaign, leaving his first start of the season due to an elbow injury. The injury ultimately resulted in Tommy John surgery, and he missed the rest of the season. In his career, Paxton has made 137 starts, tallied 754 ⅔ innings, struck out 831 batters, and pitched to an ERA of 3.59. The lefty signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Red Sox that includes a two-year club option. Paxton spent his first six seasons with the Mariners, played two seasons with the New York Yankees, and then returned to Seattle last season.

2022 Outlook 

Evidenced by their big offseason, the Mariners are ready to compete in the ever-competitive American League. Seattle may already have several stars in the Major Leagues in shortstop J.P. Crawford, center fielder Jarred Kelenic, and outfielder Kyle Lewis. A lineup with these three, Frazier, Suarez, and Winker should help drastically improve a Mariners offense that was towards the bottom of the American League in 2021. Lewis, once the centerpiece of the rebuild, is an interesting case because he has battled injuries recently. The 2020 Rookie of the Year’s status for Opening Day is still in question as he is recovering from a torn meniscus in 2021. Kelenic should be able to take over center field duties permanently. That will allow for Lewis to play either left field or designated hitter.

Ray is clearly a huge addition to the Seattle pitching staff, who should also include the likes of Marco Gonzales, Chris Flexen, and Logan Gilbert. The fifth starter will likely be either Justus Sheffield, Matt Brash, or George Kirby. For the sake of both Ray and the Mariners, hopefully he continues the dominance that he portrayed in 2021. It will also be a big year for the 24-year-old Gilbert, who now enters his second season in the majors. In 24 games last season, Gilbert amassed a 4.68 ERA and 128 strikeouts over 119 ⅓ innings. If he can make a full season’s worth of starts and lower his ERA closer to 4.00, it will bode well for the rotation as a whole.

Prediction: 91-71 

With the Mariners in win-now mode, it can be assumed that they will also be buyers at the trade deadline this summer. They will be able to use some of their top-ranked prospects as trade chips for Major League talent if need be. Seattle will be a more consistent and complete team in 2022, but will likely finish with a similar record. Remember that the Mariners had an extremely hot and unlikely second half in order for them to reach 90 wins in 2021. Expect Seattle to threaten the weakened Houston Astros for the American League West division title, but will likely still finish in second place. If all goes according to plan, this will be the season that the Mariners end their playoff drought.


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