Why a DH needs to be in Seattle's plans this offseason
Why a free agent designated hitter may need to be in the cards for Seattle this offseason.
As we hurdle toward 2024, the Seattle Mariners (and most of major league baseball) continue to have a relatively uneventful winter. The market will likely rest on Blake Snell and Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s decisions, but we must cling to rumors and speculation for now.
Most reports surrounding the Mariners express their interest in adding right-handed bats, specifically free agents that could hit in the middle of the order.
Rhys Hoskins, Jorge Soler, and Mitch Garver are all players who have been linked to Seattle multiple times throughout the offseason.
Hoskins is a right-handed first baseman who probably fits best as a DH, coming off a torn ACL that sidelined him for all of 2023. His bat is certainly good enough to play in T-Mobile Park, but there are questions on what kind of deal he would want to sign coming off a major injury.
Jorge Soler is the bat that has been linked most heavily to Seattle and is my preference of the three hitters. Soler had a monster year in 2023, posting 36 home runs while striking out just 24 percent of the time.
Soler will turn 32 next season and isn’t much of a defensive option anymore. He played right field just 32 times last season while spending the majority of his playing time at DH.
Mitch Garver is another player the Mariners have reportedly been interested in after his World Series title with the Texas Rangers. Coming off a dismal 2022 season, Garver posted a 138 wRC+ and put himself in a position for a nice deal this winter.
Garver is a catcher/DH who boasts a profile completely reliant on his bat at this point in his career. He has played 350 innings at catcher in the last two seasons, and never played more than 103 games in a season.
The free agent market this winter is less than ideal to begin with. There are a handful of elite free agents, but Seattle’s lack of resources should price them out.
Since the days of Nelson Cruz, the Mariners have been reluctant to add a DH to the roster.
In theory, the idea is sound, but Jerry Dipoto and Justin Hollander have failed to execute it. The goal was to keep flexibility and not add a player to the roster that adds little to no defensive value. This would allow the Mariners to cycle players through the DH position to keep them fresh throughout the grind of a long season.
This strategy doesn’t work well if the lineup isn’t deep enough to sustain it. Tommy La Stella and Mike Ford were most of the plan last season, and limited resources have pushed the club to look at things differently.
With limited financial resources and a limited free agent class in front of them, Seattle has to attack this group of players. They need impact bats, and the ones in their price range are likely going to be designated hitters.
While I am not a fan of the Garver idea, adding Soler or Hoskins to this lineup adds immediate impact and thump that the club sorely needs.
If the Mariners can’t lure a free-agent hitter this offseason it could be challenging for them to get enough impact via trade, or force them to deal from their major league roster to gain impact players.
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