It is looking less likely as time goes along that the Mariners will make a huge splash this offseason. They very well still could, but with Josh Hamilton off the market and an increased interest in Nick Swisher from multiple teams, a big time move does not seem very likely.
I said last week that at this point, the Ms have two options: go all out, or sit tight and reevaluate next year after the young guys have shown a little more. I still believe that those are two good options, but I would like to add to that.
I think the Mariners need to find a platoon for Casper Wells. Platoons are very undervalued, despite the ability to be very effective when implemented correctly. People tend to assume that platoons are only good for teams that don’t have anything else, but that is not the case.
Casper Wells absolutely dominated left handed pitching last year, to the tune of .891 OPS, .382 wOBA and 150 wRC+. There is no reason that the Ms should not be playing him against lefties. If he can hit like that, along with above average defense and speed, he is the ideal 4th outfielder and one half of a platoon.
Now, some of you may have a bad taste in your mouth from the Eric Thames/Wells platoon that was sub-par last season, but that is precisely why the Ms need to find him a suitable platoon partner. His production coupled with a similar left handed batter, could make for a very valuable player.
Here are some examples of guys who would be a good “other half” for the friendly ghost.
The Ms were actually linked to the 31 year old outfielder/1st baseman during the winter meetings, but talks cooled down, presumably when the Pirates offered Jones for Taijuan Walker. There were also reports that there were talks of a John Jaso, Justin Smoak and Hector Noesi for Jones and pitcher Joel Hanrahan. Obviously both of those trade are awful, but if the price were to come down to Jason Vargas+ or something like that, then it would be a great move.
Last year, Jones hit .274/.317/.516 overall, but we want to focus on him as a platoon player. In 2012 he put up an .888 OPS, .374 wOBA and 138 wRC+ against right handed pitchers. That is very similar t0 Wells against lefties, and would make for some great production in right field.
In fact, lets examine how great the production would be.
If you take Jones vs. RHP and Wells vs. LHP, you get a .276/.348/.541/.889 — .378 wOBA — 144 wRC+ line from your right fielder(s). That kind of production would be welcomed in Seattle, and would only cost the trade return for Jones, and $5-6M a year.
Jones isn’t worth what the rumors suggested, but if he can had without giving up any current offensive starters or the top specs, then he makes a lot of sense.
The journeyman outfielder doesn’t have quite as much pop as Jones, but he certainly knows how to hit right handed pitching. He would also most likely come cheaper than Jones judging by the rumors.
Last year, DeJesus hit .263/.350/.403 for the Cubs, but the splits that we are focusing on look even better. DeJesus put up a .358 wOBA and 122 wRC+ versus righties last year, compared to an embarrassing .225/33 against lefties. I think its safe to say he would be a platoon only guy.
If he were buddied up with Wells last year, the duo would have made for a .278/.364/.494 — .370 wOBA — 136 wRC+ line last year. Like Jones, his services could be very valuable to this team if he comes at the right price. Jones makes a little more sense because he brings more power potential, but DeJesus makes up for it with his on-base ability, and would be fine with me.
Those are just a couple options available. As seen above, both guys could have a huge impact on the offense without giving up too much. As I write this, I am seeing that Jason Vargas was traded for Kendrys Morales, but that doesn’t really change anything in my opinion. Morales and a left handed platoon could make for a decent offseason as the young guys develop.
Bottom line is, platoons work, and they make a ton of sense for this current team. Let the young guys grow, and bring in some help around them. At this point, it makes more sense that going over the top for a free agent.