Is Ben Zobrist the Mariners’ outfield answer?


I’m going to come out and say it: The Mariners could do even better this offseason.

I’m not saying that they’ve done poorly, however. The addition of Nelson Cruz, J.A. Happ, and Justin Ruggiano have most definitely added depth and diversity to the roster where there wasn’t any before.

But what could the M’s do with a little bit more pop in the lineup? A player like Ben Zobrist crosses my mind (as well as some of yours) as a player who could add that little extra “oomph.”

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As a member of the Tampa Bay Rays last season, he played second base, shortstop, and throughout the outfield. He sported a .272/.354/.395 slash line in 146 games last year. He turns 34 next year and still has a year and $7.5 million to make on his contract with they Rays.

Is trading some of the Mariners young talent worth that rental?

Zobrist has never hit more than 20 home runs in a single season, but a career .783 OPS over nine years isn’t something that can be easily ignored. Steady production is always more welcome than streaky power in my book. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Justin Smoak.

In just 10 at-bats in Safeco, he has a single and a strikeout. Not a big sample size, and definitely not one to make projections from. Although Safeco has classically been where hitters come to die, the switch-hitting Zobrist could make a decent living in it’s friendly confines.

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Who would the Mariners have to give up, though?

We wrote an article two weeks ago about Jack Z getting calls about all of the Mariners’ young talent, and they could definitely ship out some young pitching to get Zobrist.

However, Zduriencik has shown reluctance to trade away these players, instead believing that they will perform at a high level again next year.

But would the move make sense if they shipped out, say, Yoervis Medina?

Medina threw for a 1.333 WHIP in 57 innings last year, only made $500K last year and is under team control until 2019. The M’s certainly have the depth to trade a pitcher as long as they get a good return on the trade.

If the M’s acquire Zobrist, he could platoon in right with the newest member of the club in Ruggiano, and could possibly start at short if the situation were to arise, although the M’s are pretty well spoken for at the middle infield spots.

It’s no secret that the M’s want to win now in the hopes that it will launch their young talent into wonderful careers that lead them to multiple playoff appearances in the future. To do that, they need to score runs.

Zobrist could do that for the Mariners, but I’m slightly concerned about his future.

Lets take a recent example of what could go wrong if Zobrist were to come to Seattle: Corey Hart.

The last full year that Hart played before coming to Seattle (2012), he had similar stats to Zobrist. He had a .270/.334/.507 slash line and 30 home runs in that season. Last season, that slash line was down to .203/.271/.319 and six home runs in 68 games.

Although Zobrist hasn’t been plagued with serious injuries in his nine year tenure, it’s very possible the M’s could see a drop in production, for whatever reason.