What Will the Seattle Mariners Outfield Look Like?

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Filling the Outfield from Within

Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

As it stands right now, the Mariners have Corey Hart (paired with Logan Morrison, maybe) penciled into right field, and Michael Saunders in center or left. While the idea of trading or signing another big bat is still rattling around in everyone’s heads, there are still plenty of options to build an outfield from within the Mariners organization.

Now that Robinson Cano is taking over duties at second base, it seems only logical that Dustin Ackley will be a) traded, or b) moved to the outfield. If the Mariners don’t make any other moves this off-season, I find it highly probable that we’ll see Ackley in the outfield on opening day.

Ackley, who spent time in center, left, first and second in 2013, always seems to polarize fans. Now that Cano is in town, at least half of the Ackley argument has been put to rest. Besides, it’s not like he’s a terrible defender in the outfield.

Overall in 2013, Ackley posted a UZR of -7.0 in the outfield. Granted, that’s not very impressive, but it’s a sample size of only one year. The worst of his ratings stem from his range UZR (-6.0). However, over his time at second base, Ackley was able to post two consecutive seasons with a RngR of -0.5 or better, and a third season of 4.2. Yes, I understand that second base is very different from the outfield, but he does possess the skills to improve on his 2013 numbers.

Sliding Ackley into the outfield would see him at either left or center, with Michael Saunders picking up the other. Again, Hart/Morrison would be in right.  It’s not a horrible suggestion for those guys to take up the bulk of 2014 in the outfield. Even though Corey Hart is still a big question mark going into next season, he’s still better than seeing Raul Ibanez back out there. (Don’t get me wrong, I like Raul, but let’s not pretend like he’s a defensive powerhouse).

Even if you don’t like Ackley, there were a few pleasant surprises during the September call-ups last season too. Abraham Almonte made a particularly impressive splash when he batted .264/.313/.403 in 25 games last year. His .895 fielding percentage over that same time is a little bit discouraging, but it’s a pretty short time period to get any kind of prediction on how he will mature.

Almonte’s Tacoma fielding stats are more reassuring. Where he held a .983 fielding percentage over 91 games in the outfield.

The downside is that Almonte is another one of those Mariners players who isn’t really a left fielder. Almost all of his time in Tacoma has been at center, with a sprinkling of starts in right field. Again, this isn’t to say that he can’t play left, but the Mariners are surely in the market for someone who can play over there.

Stefen Romero might also fit that bill, he put up a 1.000 fielding percentage over 73 games in left field last year. Rick Randall thinks he has a legitimate shot at making the Mariners roster next season if he can manage to figure  out his bat and stay off of the DL. I’m inclined to agree that we will see him in Seattle on a few occasions to fill injury holes.

There’s still four months left until spring spring training ramps up, so there’s plenty of time for the Mariners to wheel and deal some more talent. I’m fond of the idea of bringing in Choo. For now he’s asking for more money than most people want to pay, but it may come down. Signing Choo allows for a bit more flexibility in the outfield with regards to Hart/Morrison and Saunders. Signing Choo also frees up Ackley for a trade if the opportunity arises. Choo fits the Mariners lineup pretty well.

 

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Tags: Featured Nelson Cruz Popular Seattle Mariners Shin-Soo Choo

  • 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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