Seattle Mariners Offseason: Which Move Was the ‘Best’?
The Seattle Mariners offseason has been an eventful one, to say the least. The team added one of the best hitters on the free agent market and traded for pitching depth and a platoon situation in right field. The Mariners also made some minor moves, including acquisitions for bullpen depth. The offseason also saw a $100 million dollar contract extension.
So, Seattle Mariners faithful, which move was the best of the offseason? I will lump the four major moves together– this means keeping the platoon set-up as one ‘move,’ for the sake of synthesis.
Let’s start first with the new slugger:
1. The Mariners Sign Nelson Cruz:
With a 4-year, $57 million contract the Mariners lured the 34-year old slugger off the free agent market. Cruz led the American League with 40 home runs in 2014 with the Baltimore Orioles, and averages 33 home runs per 162 games played.
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Cruz didn’t come cheap, and is on the wrong side of 30, but the Mariners are confident his power will translate to Safeco Field while playing DH. Cruz is expected to anchor the middle of the order at the clean-up spot, a right-hander straddled by two left-handed mashers.
Nelson Cruz will be 38 at the end of this contract, but this offseason move by the Mariners front office made it clear: this team is prepared and willing to win now.
2. The Seattle Mariners acquire LHP J.A. Happ:
Sep 12, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher J.A. Happ (48) on the bench during the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre. Tampa Bay defeated Toronto 1-0. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
In the most controversial move of the offseason, the M’s traded away their best offensive outfielder on the roster– Michael Saunders— for a likely 4th starter in the Mariners rotation. There was animosity between the front office and the Condor, who was often injured, his dedication and conditioning questioned.
But in the deal the Mariners got a left-handed pitcher who provides depth and experience in their rotation. He is a fly ball pitcher, which means he could get an ERA bump like Chris Young did in 2014.
A cause for concern with Happ, though, is his durability. He’s never pitched more than 166.0 innings in a season, and that was all the way back in 2009 when he played for the Phillies.
Happ is 32 and this is his last year left on his contract. He looks to be valuable for the Mariners, and if he does run out of gas late in the season, the Mariners have a young lefty– Roenis Elias— with solid Major League experience who will be eager to take his place.
3. The Mariners Give Kyle Seager a 7-year, $100 million contract extension:
Kyle Seager was an All-Star and a Gold Glove winner in 2014 with the Seattle Mariners. His bat improved markedly, as he finished with 25 home runs and 96 RBI. His defense, too, improved again this season, earning him Gold Glove honors over the likes of former Athletic Josh Donaldson and Rangers’ Adrian Beltre.
Seager, 27, is coming into his prime with a new contract, hitting behind Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, giving ample RBI opportunities.
Seager won’t be leaving Seattle anytime soon. And seeing as most fans love Seager, this is a feel good and smart investment.
4. The M’s Trade For Seth Smith, Justin Ruggiano to Platoon Right Field:
Aug 17, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder Seth Smith (12) grounds out to first base during the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Padres 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
After the trade that sent Saunders to Toronto, the Mariners had a gaping void in their outfield. By going out and trading an unknown minor league reliever for Justin Ruggiano, and RHP Brandon Maurer for Seth Smith, the M’s put together what could amount to a lefty-righty platoon in right field.
Smith is under contract for two more seasons, each for less than $7 million. He also carries a $7 million team option for 2017.
Ruggiano is in his 4th year of service, making him a free agent as well in 2017.
Both players are cost control with Major League experience and a proven track record against opposite-handed pitchers.
So, Seattle Mariners fans, which move was the best of the offseason? Was it one of these four major moves, or are you perhaps happy about something smaller? Or even a move that wasn’t made– like a re-signing of Kendrys Morales or a trade for Justin Upton?