Well we have entered the late season lull, and when the games don’t matter and the organization refuses to call up any prospect of interest, it becomes harder and harder not to get antsy looking forward to next season. Now we are just awaiting the end of the season, and mentally preparing ourselves for the next; when expectations can be reset and our hope can be renewed.
With that in mind, the Mariners have a few gaps that they will need to fill in order to sport a competitive team next season. Various arguments could be made for several different positions, but for today we shall just focus on the bare minimum, the essential positions required to transform the Mariners into a playoff contender.
Smoak is done. You don’t have to label him a bust, you don’t have to apply any label to him for all I care, but for all intents and purposes his role as an everyday player in Seattle is over. The Mariners now have rather large hole to fill, and the internal options don’t exactly lean towards the robust. The Mariners basically have two options if they choose to go internal, Mike Carp or Jesus Montero. If the Mariners brass is serious about contending next season, then neither is a realistic option. Carp eliminates himself through his bat and Montero through his glove work, or at the very least his potential glove work. The Mariners absolutely cannot look in house here, and exploring the trade market figures to offer the best results. Just throwing out three names to keep in the back of your mind for this offseason: Ike Davis, Justin Morneau, and Freddie Freeman.
The answer here is rather simple, resign Iwakuma. Hisashi has been more than the Mariners could have hoped for, even with the early season banishment. The Mariners could look to upgrade past him but with Ramirez and Hultzen I don’t believe it would be necessary. If the Mariners let Iwakuma walk, they are going to have a rather large hole to fill and it isn’t going to be all that easy. The Mariners should thank their lucky stars that Iwakuma wants to come back at all, because lord knows after the treatment he received at the beginning of the year… Well lets just say I wouldn’t want to come back. All that being said there are quite a few interesting free agents this offseason. Zack Greinke, Dan Harden, and Anibal Sanchez all find themselves without a contract at the end of the season, but unless the Mariners plan on spending their entire budget on one of those arms, I heavily suggest making a strong push to resign Iwakuma.
The Casper Wells/Eric Thames platoon is acceptable on a below average team, and while both players are likable guys, eventually reality will set it and a contender cannot survive running those two out there everyday. They both hold the potential to hit the ball a very long way, but that threat alone isn’t enough to keep you in the lineup. Searching for a consistent bat to insert into the outfield shouldn’t be entirely difficult as both the trade class and free agent class is swimming with options. Keep an eye on Nick Swisher, the Upton Brother, and Curtis Granderson (who would likely find his new home in LF with Saunders moving to RF) as the offseason unfolds.