Dec 12, 2013; Settle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano (left) and Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik wait for an interview session to start at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

What The Mariners Look Like If They Stand Pat

Sep 2, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) delivers a pitch in the first inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Mariners have been quiet lately, with only minor league deals following the acquisitions of Robinson Cano, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison. The team has been said to desire another starting pitcher to slot behind Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, and they need a right handed bat (what they really need is better players however they can get them, but I will let the narrative fly for now).

While I strongly believe the team will make at least one more big move — be it singing a free agent starting pitcher or outfielder, or trading for a bat — there is always the chance that Jack either does not see another worthwhile move, or chooses to balk at the high asking prices of the remaining available players.

Even though the team is likely not a contender as is, there is more talent than past teams, and the upside for success is there.

That being said, below is the projected roster, along with their WAR, as projected by Steamer.

Order Position Player WAR 1 Hernandez 4.7
1 SS Miller 3.2 2 Iwakuma 3.4
2 3B Seager 2.9 3 Walker 1.6
3 2B Cano 5.2 4 Paxton 1.3
4 DH Hart 2.2 5 Ramirez 1.5
5 LF Morrison 2
6 1B Smoak 0.8 BP Farquar 0.7
7 C Zunino 1.9 BP Pryor 0.2
8 LF Ackley 1.1 BP Furbush 0.4
9 CF Saunders 1 BP Medina 0.3
BP Wilhelmsen 0.1
Bench OF Gutierrez 0.1 BP Luetge 0.1
Bench 2B Franklin 0.1 BP Maurer 0.2
Bench UTI Bloomquist 0.2
Bench C Sucre 0.2 Total 35.4
Rep. Level 47.7
Wins 83.1

Steamer sees this current team as just a tick above .500, which certainly makes sense on paper. There are a couple stars, as well as some solid supporting players, but multiple positions could stand to be upgraded. I think if you were to poll the fans, the average would end up in that ballpark.

However, an argument could be made that some of the player above are being low-balled.

Felix has not finished with a WAR under 5.0 for the last two seasons, and only once in his last five campaigns. Dustin Ackley may have turned a corner in the second half of last season, and if that is the case, he would almost certainly finish with more than 1.1 WAR.

I also don’t think it would be out of the question for at least one of Taijuan Walker, James Paxton and Erasmo Ramirez to finish with over 2 WAR on the season.

And on top of that, players break out all the time, seemingly without reason, so you never really know. Because of all that, if everything gelled perfectly, the team probably has 90-win upside.

That said, there is an equal or greater chance that some of the hitters, such as Hart and Morrison, don’t get to their 2+ WAR projections, or that one or more of the younger guys could struggle again.

While there will no doubt be disagreement about who these players should be, I think most would agree that Mariners need more if they plan on competing right now. I normally hate when teams feel so strongly about winning that they choose to overpay or make future-mortgaging moves to attain a few extra wins.

But it seems that the Mariners already chose to take that route, and go into win-now mode. And if that is the case, they cannot do it half way. They have to be willing to spend more money, and guarantee that they actually do win, rather than throwing away money or assets, only to win 85 games.

If I had to throw out specific names, I would suggest going all out for Masahiro Tanaka (7 years and $120 million is fine by me), and avoiding overpaying for Nelson Cruz just because he is a right handed hitter with power.

What do you guys think about the current team, and what moves would you like to see the team make to wrap up what has been an exciting offseason?

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  • Weighed Wade

    I’m sorry but you have Ackley and Lomo in LF. I’m guessing you mean Saunders in RF or…. Ackley? I know the rumors have been quiet since they traded Aioki, but would Ryan Braun be a fit for us?
    Joey Bats would be our RF if Santa was real.

  • drwheelock

    1. Land Tanaka no MATTER what $120m? 130m? Maybe add some very attractive and high $’s CYA and MVP awards for add’l money.

    2. Resign Oliver Perez $3-4m

    3. Sign Balfour $4m Base and give him his extra $3.5m/yr (on incentives) that he’s been wanting. He wants a $7-8m/yr deal, but with the O’s pulling the garbage they did, he’ll be hard pressed for his desired contract unless incentives are involved now.

    4. And yes…I say wait until early-mid February but eventually resign Morales for DH. I just don’t see anyone giving him a multi-year $8m/yr contract. I would love to have his switch hitting bat .


    6. Trade for OFer (Kemp, Bautista, Gomez) … Using as trade bait Franklin, Ackley, Smoak away. Yes on Stanton “if’ Stanton could EVER be pulled away, but Stanton would take all of that package + Walker & Paxton to get done (which I would be in favor of doing!)

    • Dan Hughes

      I agree completely. Tanaka- that’s a given. I hate that the Mariners have neglected to re-sign one of – if not THEE – most effective relievers on the roster in 2013, in Oliver Perez. I want Fernando Rodney over Grant Balfour but I would take him too.

      Forget Cruz and eventually sign Morales then trade for Kemp.

      I am in favor of all of it. I just hope the Mariners are feeling it too.

  • maqman

    Well we seem to be in agreement for the most part. I agree on taking a pass on Cruz and bringing back Morales on the cheap. I’m in on Tanaka but he is going to be expensive and counting on outspending the Yankees on a player they have to have is going to be tough. He could go to 8/$160M, plus the $20M transfer fee. If the M’s can’t get him I’d give Arroyo 2 years with an option and some salvageable arm prospect. Our lack of pitching depth and the worst defense in the game hurt us bad last season.
    Worst Defensive Runs Saved Total AL in 2013: Mariners –97, Tigers –63, White Sox –58, Angels –57.

    Masahiro Tanaka has already thrown 1,315 innings in Japan. To put that in perspective, 32-year-old Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright has thrown 1,3142⁄3 in the big leagues, and Red Sox counterpart Jon Lester, who turns 30 next week, is at 1,3761⁄3. He is not risk free..

  • tedsfrozenhead

    As it currently stands this team will rely on young players ALL realizing and playing to their full potential as well as 3 injury prone players who combined played for 3/4 of the 2013 season to all make full recoveries and play to their standards.

    Not likely

  • ksmyth

    1. Tanaka is highly desirable but the M’s cannot afford to be shut out from one of the top starters remaining on the market whether that’s Tanaka, Garza, Santana, Jimenez, or Arroyo. They can’t start with a rotation that looks like Felix, Iwakuma, Walker, Paxton, and Ramirez.

    2. This team does not need a Nelson Cruz, they need an elite center fielder. They should get in on the discussions for Brett Gardner, and package Franklin or Ackley with other desirable prospects. This team cannot afford to depend on Saunders (really a corner outfielder) or Gutierrez (an injured outfielder) to cover Safeco’s cavernous centerfield on a daily basis. A quality centerfielder makes your pitching staff better.

    3. No Morales. We need another DH like a hole in the head. Between Hart, Morrison, Smoak and Gutierrez we’ve got DH covered.

    4. Add pieces to the bullpen. Yes Perez, and pick up Grant Balfour for a reasonable price. Other pieces as available.

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