Is Tim Anderson a fit for the Mariners?
Six days away from the deadline, rumor season is starting to swirl. Today we are talking about Tim Anderson, Paul DeJong and what to make of second base moving forward.
On Tuesday morning Jon Paul Morosi continued his stream of Mariners rumors by name-dropping Seattle in the conversation for middle infielders. Tim Anderson, Paul DeJong, and Vidal Bruján are the names that were mentioned as available targets. I wrote about all three in my trade guide a few weeks back.
The Mariners have an obvious need in the middle infield, just as they have for several seasons now. What should their strategy be? Taking a look at recent history may give us the answer.
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Seattle has turned to the trade market each of the past two seasons in an attempt to fix the second base hole, trading for Adam Frazier and Kolten Wong. A common denominator for both players is that they had one year remaining on their deal, which turned out to be a good thing as both players struggled mightily.
Other players who have been linked to the Mariners in the past are Gleyber Torres and Brandon Lowe, which makes me think there is a common theme here. Targeting guys with one or two years of control left has helped them keep some more prospects and future flexibility as opposed to players with more club control.
They have also done this with Teoscar Hernandez and other players in the last few seasons. With this in mind let’s take a look at the players mentioned by Morosi, especially Tim Anderson.
Anderson fits the club control mold, with one year of control remaining after 2023. He just turned 30 years old and has two All-Star appearances and a Silver Slugger on his resume.
Normally you would be all over a player of this caliber, but this year has been a bad one for the 30 year old shortstop. He has been banged up and completely cratered, posting just a 59 wRC+ and zero home runs according to Fangraphs. Anderson hit just six home runs last year, and his sub .600 OPS suggests things haven’t been trending in the right direction.
There are plenty of reasons why I don’t think this move will happen, so let’s start with those. The profile here certainly doesn’t fit with what the Mariners have preached in the past.
In parts of eight major league seasons, Anderson has posted just a 3.4 percent walk rate. If he isn’t going to walk you would like to see him strike out less, posting a league average 22 percent strikeout rate over his MLB career.
The entire profile has been built on hitting for a high average and getting on base with a ton of hits, albeit not with super great batted-ball metrics. The last two seasons he has been unable to drive the ball as often, with extra base numbers cratering along with his average.
Since his dominant 2021 which saw him post a 140 wRC+, Anderson has been in steady decline. Not only does that sound like a red flag, it just doesn’t seem like the type of player the Mariners would acquire. He is anti “control the zone” and has a ton of troubling batted ball data that won’t get any better coming to the Pacific Northwest to battle the marine layer.
There are some reasons I would like this move for Seattle. Anderson has been an advocate for African American baseball players for years, similar to J.P. Crawford. He has also been at the forefront of letting baseball players express themselves on the field, something that has been important to Scott Servais and this team. He is a really fun player to watch when he is playing the way he is capable of.
Aside from him being a clubhouse fit, Anderson will be going into a contract year in 2024. Seattle has targeted players coming off of very good seasons the past few years, so adding a player in need of a bounceback would be a welcomed change.
Anderson, similar to J.P. Crawford, worked with Tanner Stokey and the boys at Driveline this past offseason. Driveline is located in the Seattle area and has served as a huge part of J.P. Crawford’s 2023 surge.
While I don’t think it is likely, Anderson is a tempting and really fun fit at second base. There is a chance it would blow up in their face in a big way with the marine layer and Anderson’s aversion to hard contact, but the fit is fun to think about.
DeJong and Bruján are the other names mentioned by Morosi. DeJong is the one that fits this team the best right now.
After a demotion and losing his job, the 29 year old shortstop has bounced back to almost exactly his career averages. His bat has basically always hovered around a 100 wRC+, despite pedestrian batted ball metrics.
DeJong is a terrific defensive shortstop, one of the best in all of baseball. A well-above-average glove and an average bat is a useful player, but the fit seems clunky with Dylan Moore and Jose Caballero on the roster. Adding a league-average bat is a good thing and something I would never complain about.
Bruján has struggled mightily in his 60-plus major league games thus far, posting just a 31 wRC+. He is still just 25 years old and was a top-100 prospect, but hasn’t accessed the hit tool he was supposed to develop. The Dominican native still has plenty of upside and team control and would be a fun player for Seattle to unlock.
Bruján has 70 grade speed and can play all over the field, which may make him even more interesting for Seattle.
Overall, I wouldn’t be opposed to the Mariners adding any of these players. All three add a certain level of either upside or stability to this team, and would certainly make the second base position a lot less stale.
If I had to guess, Jerry Dipoto and co. have checked in on infielders around the league, and these three are some of the most available. Ultimately, don’t be surprised if the Mariners add a player not on this list that shares some similarities.