The Mariners have to make a lot of big decisions during this off-season. One of them, is what to do with their budding young shortstop, Ketel Marte. Marte had an up and down year, but at the age of twenty-three, the sky’s the limit for him. Whether those limits will be reached while playing in Seattle is another story.
As per the latest reports, it is unclear what the Mariners plan to do with Ketel Marte. On Friday, Marte was praised by his his coach Scott Servais on the radio show, “Brock and Salk”. Along with many other points, Servais said the young shortstop has, “a bright future”. What he did not say, is if that bright future will be with the Mariners or another squad.
In the aforementioned radio interview, Servais went onto say about Marte:
"“…He really had a hard time getting going offensively…”"
It is true, especially compared to his first year in the big leagues. In his shortened debut year, Marte made a decent splash for a twenty-two year old. In just fifty-seven games, he had two home runs, seventeen RBI, eight stolen bases, batted .283 and raced to fourteen doubles.
In nearly twice as many games in 2016, Marte’s offensive numbers took a unfortunate slide. In one hundred and nineteen games, Marte had just eleven stolen bases, thirty-three RBI, one home run, twenty-one doubles and he actually drew six less walks. This all added up to a much lower batting average of .259 plus an on base percentage of .287% instead of .351% the previous year.
The declining numbers can partly be attributed to his injury-filled year. In late May, early June, Marte sat out for two weeks with a sprained thumb. Then, after the All-Star break, Marte suffered a bout of mono, which can be particularly draining, even once you’ve recovered.
A Marte Alternative?
With his offensive numbers sinking, the Mariners have decided to potentially trade Marte. The Mariners have had an eye on the the Cincinatti Reds, Zack Cozart, for a little while, and it appears that there is an increased interest yet again.
Cozart has a few more years in his pocket than Marte. During those years, the Tennessee native has proven his value by being consistently productive. Unlike Marte, Cozart’s power numbers are more intriguing.
In four of the last five years, the Reds shortstop has hit nine or more home runs. He also had fifty RBI and twenty-eight doubles. He did bat a similar .252, but his OBP has been over .300 the past two seasons.
More importantly, Cozart’s glove has been far more reliable than Marte’s. The Mariners would benefit strongly by adding a great fielding shortstop to help Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager in the infield. Cozart has a six year fielding percentage of .980%. The past three seasons he has been at or above that number. That’s a monumental difference compared to Marte’s .956%.
Last season, Marte had the most errors by a shortstop in all of baseball, and he didn’t play in over forty games. That is not a positive sign.
So, with options on the table, what should the Mariners do? His numbers at the plate and in the field say that Cozart would probably be the better option. But, the Mariners may agree with Servais that Marte has a bright future. A future worth holding onto.
At this point everything is speculation. The Mariners have a decision to make on Marte, but will they make the right one? Only time will tell.