What should the rest of the offseason look like for the Mariners?
After acquiring Teoscar Hernández and signing Trevor Gott the Mariners have addressed two needs already this offseason. Needs still remain, so how could Seattle choose to fill them?
The Mariners' 2022 season ended at the hands of the Houston Astros in the ALDS, a team who has owned them and the AL West for many seasons now. Seattle now has the daunting task of chasing down Houston, who just added José Abreu to the mix.
They are also expected to retain Michael Brantley and be interested in Willson Contreras on the open market. To chase them down Seattle will need to add impact in several different areas on this roster.
With the Winter Meetings upcoming the stove should begin to heat up. Let’s take a look at where Seattle needs to add impact to this roster, and what they could begin to add in the next few weeks.
The Mariners have J.P. Crawford but need to add more offense to this order. President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto said their “great preference is to find a shortstop to play second base.” It seems the team will get priced out of the shortstop market, forcing them to look at more creative options.
Ken Rosenthal says the team has been interested in Kolten Wong with the Brewers and Brandon Lowe with the Rays as potential second-base options. Both players would be offensive upgrades with some level of trade cost, but not enough to break the bank.
Seattle will likely still be involved with free agents but likely has a limit on years and dollars they will not exceed, making it likely they will get priced out. I expect a trade for a one-year player or a creative deal that adds a multi-year infield fix to happen. We should trust Dipoto to upgrade this spot, one that has been a weakness for this team for several years now.
Seattle kicked off the offseason by adding Teoscar Hernández to the middle of their order but also has much uncertainty with Mitch Haniger testing free agency and Jesse Winker being a relative unknown. The team could opt to keep Winker or re-sign Haniger, but neither option is a slam dunk.
Haniger primarily plays right field, and so does Hernández. It is certainly still possible Seattle could retain Haniger and I still believe both sides would like a reunion, but the addition of Hernández makes it feel more unlikely.
The club has also been reportedly interested in Michael Conforto, a native of Redmond, Washington who has a career 124 WRC+. Conforto missed all of last season with a shoulder injury but theoretically could be a nice addition to this outfield as a fourth outfield type.
Brandon Nimmo is another player Seattle has been interested in, and one that I have pounded the table for. Nimmo has had some health issues in the past, but when he is on the field he is dynamic and productive. Adding him in free agency gives this team a bonafide leadoff hitter and another player who can handle centerfield to rest Julio Rodríguez.
Nimmo, a Wyoming native, would fit nicely in left field for Seattle. Andrew Benintendi is a player Seattle could like depending on his market. Bryan Reynolds and Ian Happ are other options, but would surely cost the Mariners a lot in a trade.
High Leverage Bullpen Arms
Seattle needs to get better at the back end of their bullpen. Each of the past two seasons the team’s bullpen fell apart at the end of the season, especially the high-leverage arms which were heavily relied upon. Paul Sewald and Andrés Muñoz appeared out of gas in the postseason, and the club could use some back-end guys to give them support.
Acquiring Hernández means the team had to part with Erik Swanson, a reliable back-end performer for the Mariners in 2022. Dipoto has a very good track record of finding and developing bullpen arms, and there should be trust in him to do so again.
Joe Jiménez of the Tigers and Scott Barlow of the Royals are two names that I like, but Seattle could turn to the open market to try to add some impact to this bullpen. It is hard to speculate on who they could add, but Dipoto and Pete Woodworth, and the pitching development staff can be trusted to find a creative solution.
Seattle needs to add at least one more back-end performer or two, or another capable middle-relief option. I would not expect to see Seattle throw big money at any reliever, but one could be acquired as a part of a bigger trade package.
The market has not really taken shape yet, but the Mariners are off to a good start. While catching the Astros simply may not be attainable yet, the front office clearly should have this goal in mind.
A second baseman is the most crucial of all the needs in my opinion, as it has been a need for many seasons now. The bullpen is a huge need but one we should be confident in the Mariners to address correctly.
If the club misses out in other areas it could be interested in adding to its biggest strength, starting pitching. Don’t be surprised if the Mariners add a number three starter at the back end of their rotation.
Seattle needs at least one more splash move this offseason with a couple more solid, supporting moves. With the Winter Meetings upcoming more action is on the horizon, and it will be interesting to see how the dominos begin to fall.