Top 10 Offseason Targets for the Seattle Mariners
The Mariners need to make moves if they want to catch the Astros. Jerry Dipoto has shown willingness to do this through trade, but Seattle should be active in free agency as well. Let's take a look.
The Mariners’ 2023 offseason should be extremely interesting and exciting. They finished 2022 at 16 games behind the Houston Astros, and the goal should be to add players that will help them push Houston for the AL West title. Seattle needs to add multiple players to catch Houston.
My top three positions of need for the Mariners are
-High Leverage Reliever
I would expect them to satisfy all three needs through a combination of free agency and trade. I put together my top 10 list of players the Mariners could acquire, based on both likelihood and need. The players at the top of the list are the ones I think are most likely to end up in Seattle next year, and are also the best fits.
I would be shocked if none of the players in my top 5 ended up in a Mariner uniform next season.
10: Scott Barlow
Scott Barlow would be an electric addition to Los Bomberos in 2023. Kansas City won’t compete next year, and could immediately slot in at the back end of Seattle’s bullpen.
He posted a 2.18 ERA with 24 saves for the Royals, and his advanced stats are tremendous. The right hander ranked in the 96th percentile of hard hit rate and the 83rd percentile of xwOBA according to Baseball Savant.
He also throws his slider about 44% of the time, a profile trait that the Mariners could fall in love with. Kansas City drove a hard bargain for Whit Merrifield two years ago and would likely do the same for Barlow, but the fit is there. Barlow enters free agency in 2025.
9: Joe Jiménez
Relievers are always hard to identify, especially for a Seattle Mariners organization that can find them at any time. High leverage reliever is one of the most important positions for Seattle to add going into 2023, especially with how gassed Paul Sewald and Andrés Muñoz looked at the end of the season.
Two years in a row Seattle has run their back-end bullpen guys into the ground, so adding reinforcements here is huge. Jiménez appeared in 62 games with the Tigers last season, and his Baseball Savant page is about as intriguing as it gets.
He misses bats and has excellent fastball spin, ranking in the 94th percentile. The Tigers aren’t going to compete next season and could unload the high-leverage reliever to Seattle. Jimenez is under control through 2023.
8: Randy Arozarena
The former rookie of the year is now entering the prime years where Tampa Bay could deal him. He will turn 28 before next season and Tampa could look to move him for a nice return.
The left fielder won’t be a free agent until 2027, and we know how much Jerry Dipoto and his team value club control. Arozarena isn’t a superstar, but he fits the athleticism that the Mariners would like to have especially in the outfield.
He has been a good player the last few seasons, posting 2.8 WAR with 20 homers in his 2022 campaign. He would likely cost a significant package from the Mariners, but the Rays may be interested in a reliever plus prospects. Seattle has familiarity dealing with the Rays, so don’t be surprised if they combine on a move even if it isn’t this one.
7: Brandon Lowe
Lowe is a player who seems destined to be a Seattle Mariner at some point. The Rays and Mariners love to combine on trades, and this one is destined to be next.
After a really nice 2021 season that saw him slash .247/.340/.523, Lowe had a down year and saw time on the injured list to end the year with a back injury. He is a lefthanded power bat that would add some pop to this lineup, especially with Jesse Winker destined to leave the organization.
He would also be a great addition to the Mariners roster because of his ability to play all over the field. He has the ability to play second base and corner outfield as well as spell Ty France and Eugenio Suárez at the corners. Lowe would be affordable and worth it for Seattle, and Tampa would likely move him.
6: Trea Turner
Trea Turner would be an awesome fit on this current Seattle roster, but I have him at number 6 for a reason. Turner is likely to command the biggest contract of any pending free agent shortstop in this year’s class. There have also been reported desires to be on the East Coast, so teams like the Orioles and Mets should be players here. A return to the Dodgers also seems likely. The Cardinals should also be in the mix.
Nevertheless, the Mariners are likely to pursue Turner in some regard, and the fit is undeniable. Seattle loves athletic, versatile players like Turner. He could slide in at second or short and immediately into the leadoff spot in front of Julio Rodríguez.
His speed is game changing, and so is his hit tool. Even though his numbers will likely decline as his speed does, I still expect him to be the most highly coveted shortstop in the 2022/23 group. His numbers last year speak for themselves, hitting .298 with a 128 WRC+ and 6.3 fWAR. He will command upwards of 200 million dollars, which Seattle would be willing and able to pay. In the end I think it is unlikely, but the interest will be there on Seattle’s end.
5: Willy Adames
Willy Adames was a former top prospect in baseball, and although he has never reached his billing is still a very good player. Adames was traded to Milwaukee just 20 games into the 2021 season and exploded once he got to Milwaukee. He is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball, ranking in the 97th percentile in Outs Above Average.
Adames is not as good offensively as someone like Xander Bogaerts or Carlos Correa but he isn’t far off. He hit 31 home runs in 2022, while slugging .458 and putting up a 109 WRC+. Two seasons in a row he has put up a WRC+ well above 100, after a 120 in 2021. His on base is relatively low compared to what the Mariners typically prefer, but the bat is still just as productive.
If the Mariners miss out on the middle infield position in free agency they will need to find a trade partner to fill the need. The 27 year old and his contract both fit well within the Seattle timeline. Adames would have two years of control, making him an attractive option if the Mariners can’t close on a free agent. His teammate Luis Urías is also an option in the same thought process, although Adames has been a tick or two better.
It is not clear if the Brewers would trade him, but they could look to move him or Urías to Seattle to improve other weak areas of their team. The Brewers are similar to the Rays in trading players before free agency, so this is something to keep an eye on.
4: Ian Happ
Happ is the player on this list I would throw betting money on the Mariners acquiring, not as an offseason headliner but as a supporting piece. The Mariners tried to trade for Happ at the deadline but was too pricey for Seattle to swallow. Going into the last year of his deal, Jerry Dipoto could look to upgrade from Adam Frazier with Happ who has similar positional versatility.
Happ makes sense because of his bat, and also his ability to play both positions of need for Seattle this offseason. He has played second base in the past but won the Gold Glove in left field this past season.
He was legitimately good this last season, posting a 3.5 fWAR season while getting over 600 at bats. He is entering free agency after the 2023 season so he should be affordable, and the fact that Seattle had an interest in him previously is an indicator. Happ would be a great addition to the Mariners lineup for length and positional versatility.
3: Carlos Correa
You could argue that Carlos Correa should be the number one target for the Mariners this offseason. When Correa played for the Astros a Mariner coach once told me he is “the best player they see besides Mike Trout.” The 28 year old is coming off a .291/.366/.467 season where he posted 4.4 fWAR.
He has had some health injuries in the past, but Correa is a true difference maker at the top of an order. Although the cheating issue may be an issue with some in the Mariners locker room, Correa has been received as a good teammate and a great leader in both places he has been in his career.
He is likely to get over 200 million dollars and a long-term deal, especially because he is still just 28 years old. He is a plus defender at shortstop and would likely not want to move to second for J.P. Crawford, but could be a nice option at third base eventually in his career. The former Astro would be a perfect addition to this infield, and the Mariners should be aggressive in pursuit.
2: Brandon Nimmo
Brandon Nimmo is the best available outfielder in this year’s free agency, and it isn’t particularly close. The outfielder had a great season in 2022 while playing centerfield for much of the season for the Mets. Nimmo is exactly the type of player the Mariners covet, as his main skillset revolves around controlling the zone.
The 29 year old posted a .367 on-base percentage while walking at about 3% more than the league average. He is capable in center field, but is best suited at a corner. It would be ideal for Seattle to have another player capable of handling the position to give Julio Rodríguez a day off.
It seems Jesse Winker is gone based on reports from Ryan Divish, and Winker deleted all Mariner-related posts on his Instagram yesterday. If they don’t bring back Winker or Haniger the team needs to add multiple players in the outfield.
Seattle needs outfield help in a major way and they will need to dip into the free-agency market in some way. Nimmo will have a huge number of interested parties mostly because of the lack of options behind him. The Mariners should be in on Nimmo, but there is a chance a team like the Rockies would overpay greatly for him.
1A: Xander Bogaerts
Xander Bogaerts is the most likely shortstop Seattle will throw money at this offseason in my opinion. Jerry Dipoto said in his end of the season press conference that the Mariners “prefer to sign a shortstop who would like to play second base.” This comment seemed to signal interest in Bogaerts. The Boston shortstop is the oldest of the group, but his bat is solid and should stay solid through most of this contract.
It is unknown where Bogaerts would prefer to go, but would likely prefer to play for a winner. I would also guess he is the most likely of the group to consider a move to a different position, as he is the worst of the group defensively. His bat is elite and has a career line over 10 years of .292/.356/.456. If Seattle could get him to play either middle infield spot and then add an outfield bat in addition to Mitch Haniger returning, they will have hit the offseason out of the park.
If he doesn’t return to Boston I think Seattle is the frontrunner. He should command close to 200 million dollars, but for the Mariners it will be worth it to add to a weak middle infield.
1B: Bryan Reynolds
Bryan Reynolds tops the list along with Xander Bogaerts as my highest preference and highest likelihood option for Seattle to acquire. The Pirates centerfielder is explosive and could immediately solidify the outfield with Julio Rodríguez. He would be expensive to acquire in a trade, as top prospects plus a fringe major league prospect like Jarred Kelenic or Taylor Trammell would have to be shipped to Pittsburgh.
We know Jerry Dipoto falls in love with trade targets and bides his time until he can pull the trigger. He did so with Luis Castillo and could do it again with Reynolds. We know they had interest in him last offseason, so now could be the time to strike.
Reynolds had a great year on a bad Pirates team, and isn’t a free agent until 2026. He would be a perfect candidate to add to the top of this lineup, as he could be the bat they thought Jesse Winker would be. He would immediately slide in and give the team pop at the top of the order, and stability for a team that needs it badly.