What Will the Seattle Mariners Outfield Look Like?

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Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

After the mind blowing acquisition of Robinson Cano, pretty much everyone in the Mariners world had said that the next move Uncle Jack needed to make was to find some outfielders. It makes complete sense, Raul Ibanez and Franklin Gutierrez probably won’t be back next year, and there’s a plethora of talented guys still available through trades of free agency.

That’s why there was virtually no warning when the Mariners picked up outfielder-turned-DH Corey Hart, and traded for Logan Morrison.

There is no doubt in my mind that the person who took this the hardest was Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak, who is now a major question mark for 2014. Both Hart and Morrison have spent considerable time at first due to injuries over the last few seasons.

The first base log-jam aside, what do these two signings mean for the 2014 Mariners? Rumors are still rampant that the Mariners will be signing Nelson Cruz, and there are still some Mariners available for trade too (Smoak and Jesus Montero being the most recent names).

What exactly does this do for the Seattle Mariners outfield? What kind of lineup are we going to see in 2014? There are a lot of potential iterations that could emerge. I find it hard to believe that the M’s would sign Hart and trade for Morrison without the intention of putting one or both of them in the outfield, so who will be joining them next spring?

Hart and Morrison:

First, how feasible is it for both of these guys to play next year? The major concern right now is that both Morrison and Hart are coming off of some knee issues.

Corey Hart didn’t play at all in 2013 due to surgery on both knees, a meniscus tear in the left in late 2012, and damaged cartilage in the right in 2013. What this means is that Hart has been off the field for over a year due to two separate injuries. It’s obviously going to take some time for Hart to get back in the groove, if he ever does. Luckily for the Mariners, his $13MM deal is heavily laden with incentives, so if he can’t (or doesn’t) perform, then he won’t be excessively expensive.

Logan Morrison is coming off of knee problems of his own. After missing the second half of 2012 and the first half of 2013, he was relegated to first base on his return. Presumably because he simply lost the mobility he once had as a left fielder.

That being said, Morrison held a fielding percentage of .996 in 2013 as a first baseman (Smoak: .995), so by no means is Morrison a defensive liability in the field.

As such, the 2013 Mariners first base depth chart appears to have three names tied to it, which is a few too many.

One way to resolve this would be put one, or both of Hart and Morrison into the outfield. They both came up to the league as corner outfielders, and Corey Hart has tried to put the idea of him being too injury prone to play to bed.

 

“Realistically I could play five days a week out there,I would have thought less a while back, but I dropped a lot of weight and when I started running I realized that I wasn’t in as good of shape before. My knees have held up. They will be stronger than they’ve been before.” – Corey Hart

 

Surely Jack and Company intended Hart to play a major role in the outfield, and it seems like Hart thinks he’s up to the challenge.

Logan Morrison too wants to be ready to play in 2013. A versatile first baseman/corner outfielder like Morrison is going to be incredibly valuable to the Mariners as they move forward.

Hart and Morrison will be question marks until opening day. As much as Hart seems to think he’ll be ready to play 5 days a week in the outfield, I’ll have to see it to believe it. Knee injuries can be nagging and lingering. Realistically, I expect that we will see Morrison and Hart split time in left/right and the DH spot. Though if Smoak is traded before then we would see an OF/1B split between the two of them.

This is the biggest question mark for the 2014 Mariners outfield, but by no means is that the end of the outfield questions. There are still two open spots out there, and the Mariners need to decide how they are going to fill them.

 

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Topics: Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners, Shin-Soo Choo

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  • drwheelock

    Forget Choo or Cruz. At this point with Tanaka posting, Seattle I see is the most aggressive for his services. After Cano, I just don’t see Seattle letting Tanaka slip thru their fingers…not with a current $66M 2014 payroll. Don’t see it!

    A couple “quick” moves I’d do in Seattle to fillout and solidify the roster:

    1. Sign Kurt Sukuki right away in the $3M range. Don’t want any of the other Catchers out there.
    2. Sign Balfour and give him that 3rd year he wants at $7M/yr to solidify our Closer role.
    3. Resign Oliver Perez RP in the $3-4M range.
    4. Resign Gutz at $2M/base with incentives (in 151 PA’s in 2013 he hit 10 HRs, which avgs out to about 40 HRs on 600+ PAs. Platoon him in the OF & “DH” to conserve his health.

    Those “quick” moves only take Seattle to approx $81-82M (Not counting potential incentives for Hart)

    I want to see Seattle take payroll to the $120-$130M range. After the moves above THEN:

    1. Sign Tanaka
    2. Trade for one of Price/Lee/Hamels/Scherzer (all available, but Seattle moves on from any one of these “if” Walker/Paxton OR Zunino is mentioned.

    The ONLY way I “justify” moving Walker/Paxton is in a killer package for Stanton NO ONE ELSE!

    One last move I’d do is “wait” until February to see if Morales is still avail. I still would love to get his Switch Hitting LHB/RHB in our lineup at DH and bench Smoak against LHPs. If he doesn’t sign by March, and there’s a forceable chance he doesn’t sign until after draft, and Seattle risks losing our draft pick…then get him back in the lineup. This opens up a STRONG chance for a mid-season trade. We have numerous MLB talent AND top Farm prospects to package in a serious move for Stanton. I would NEVER give up throwing trade scenarios with Miami on Stanton…a future franchise player that will not resign with Miami.

    • tedsfrozenhead

      WoW! I agree with most of what you say except Tanaka. I would love to see him here but I know that The Yankees are hot for Tanaka, are on record with their interest and desire to sign him and they are not alone. I can easily seeing Tanaka going to another team, there are many teams that want him.
      I agree with you on Balfour but 3 years might be a bit much. I would do it though, especially at the 7m you propose,
      Although Suzuki can’t hit a lick he is a good defensive catcher and would be a decent 2nd catcher behind Zunino, If Mike isn’t ready we could start Suzuki for the time being.
      Perez was decent and I think perhaps he stands out because the rest of the pen was just not that good. But his numbers were OK and he is worth 3 or 4m a year.
      And AGREED that a Stantonesque type of trade is the only one we should consider including Walker in. This guy has so much upside it would be a shame to watch him become an all-star for and Upton type player. And we have him locked up for 6 years!

      Disagree with you on Guti, his time has come and gone and as good as he might be when healthy the fact is that he can not stay healthy. The time for players like this who have not fulfilled the promise of their talents is gone. I also feel Smoak falls into this category. Playing great in Sept the last couple years only wets our appetites, he has not lived up to his potential and I would much rather see Morales at first base. After all, he did lead the team in most offensive categories.

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