Offseason Report Card and Prediction: Shortstop
J.P. Crawford held down the shortstop position for most of the last several seasons in Seattle, but could they be in the market for an upgrade? Check out prediction and grades for shortstop here.
Going into this offseason a lot of focus from the fanbase will be put on the shortstop position, but not on the player who has manned the spot over the last few seasons. J.P. Crawford is the Mariners shortstop now and moving forward for the Mariners, but the free agent class could make Seattle change their minds.
Crawford had a great start to the season, ranking as one of the most valuable players in baseball through the beginning of June. He slowed down throughout the summer, struggling to hit his way on base. The Mariner shortstop ended the season running a line of .243/.339/.336, with just 6 home runs on the season.
His first half WRC+ was 116, 16 points above the league average. In the second half, the 27 year old cratered offensively, dropping all the way down to an 87 WRC+. Ultimately he ended at 104, about 4 points above a league-average bat.
Defense has been his calling hard his entire career, and to the naked eye, it seemed Crawford’s defense was still well above average. Fangraphs and Baseball Savant saw regression in that this season as well, leading to questions about what the team should do moving forward.
The Seattle front office made comments about him that turned heads in the postseason press conference, indicating they may be in on the free agent shortstop class.
The club knows they need to add to their middle infield, and they need to add a bat to the mix here. Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson feel like long shots here, although Correa would fit in nicely.
That leaves Trea Turner and Xander Bogaerts as potential options in the free agent class. We will go over all four players and their potential fit more in-depth as the offseason moves along, but on the surface it seems both players could be fits here for Seattle.
Turner has played other positions in the past, even if it was for the Dodgers. Boegarts has a good bat, and will likely be the cheapest of the four. Seattle will like the bat of Boegarts, and the versatility/speed that Turner possesses. The ideal scenario is getting a deal done with either player, spending money instead of having to use prospect capital to improve their middle infield via trade.
If Seattle is unable to get a deal done with one of these players they may have to acquire a second baseman and keep Crawford at shortstop. One way to help him out is to give him more of a platoon.
Crawford will struggle against lefthanded pitchers with the current state of his swing mechanics and has seemed to tire through the long season. Playing Dylan Moore at shortstop against lefthanders is a real option, both to get production and to save Crawford’s legs in a long season. Moore had a 137 WRC+ against lefties in 2022.
Ultimately J.P. Crawford had a fine season at shortstop and is a good MLB player. He is the captain and is one of the emotional leaders of this team. He has a strong voice in the clubhouse and is always lifting the mood with his reggae music blasting through the clubhouse speakers.
The Long Beach native also produced two of the most memorable and unlikely moments of the entire season in the playoffs.
Overall Crawford is a good player but Seattle needs middle infield help this offseason. If they don’t add a shortstop they will need to add a big bat up the middle, or multiple in the outfield to make up for it.
My prediction will likely waver as the offseason churns along, but I find it hard to see one of the shortstops picking Seattle as their destination. It is an intuitive fit for all four based on the current team trajectory and money available to spend, but it is difficult to get free agents to sign in Seattle. Having Julio Rodríguez helps their case, but we will see if they can get a deal done.