Seattle Mariners Winter Meeting Primer, Part 2

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 9: Mitch Haniger
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 9: Mitch Haniger /

Yesterday, Sodo Mojo broke down the needs and a handful of potential candidates for the Seattle Mariners. Today, we will look at the in-house options to fill these spots, whether by trade or by play.

While we all eagerly await the decision of Shohei Ohtani, it is crucial not to overlook the Mariners other needs. One of the biggest holes still in need of attention is in center field. General Manager Jerry Dipoto has admitted as much. His preference is to find a true center fielder, but has continually insisted that the team trust Mitch Haniger in center.

Haniger has played 209.2 innings of CF in the big leagues, and grades out as solid defender there. His career 24.2 UZR/150 and 1 DRS (defensive run saved) suggest he would be at least a competent defender. The issue is mainly health. Haniger is such a valuable bat to the Mariners, and he missed significant time in 2017, that playing the more demanding CF is a cause for concern.

Guillermo Heredia passes the eye test as a big league centerfielder, but comes with his own set of questions. It appears that Heredia will require a platoon partner. Boasting a solid 107 wRC+ against lefties with a .346 OBP will play in a part-time role. However; his  66 wRC+ makes him a massive risk as a full-time player.

There aren’t many options in the minors to even consider at this point. Ian Miller was left off the 40 man roster, and there are still major questions about his bat. The speedster is an excellent base-runner, but is probably best suited for left field. Braden Bishop is an excellent defender who ha surprised some with his bat, but he appears to be at least 1 full season away.

Perhaps the biggest hole to fill is in the rotation. Even if the Mariners do land Ohtani, they will still have at least one spot left to fill.

Unlike in the outfield, there are a plethora of in-house options available to choose from. The veteran pool consist of Erasmo Ramirez and Andrew Albers. Both vets provided incredibly solid innings for the team in August and September. The Mariners appear to have a spot on the pitching staff locked down for Ramirez.

There are several young guns who might make the rotation, or could be used as trade fodder to acquire a veteran. Chief among them are Andrew Moore and Marco Gonzales. Both got time in the Mariners rotation last season, and both had some degree of success at various times. Neither are ideal options for a contending team, but could be serviceable out of the pen.

Speaking of the pen, the Mariners might not be big players in that free agent market. We mentioned a few names yesterday that make sense, namely Sergio Romo and Steve Cishek, but it appears they will try to build from within.

The Mariners have some depth here, though most of it is in AA or lower. After making a brief debut in 2017, Max Povse appears to have been groomed for a Chris Devinski type of role. Both Matthew Festa and Art Warren pitched well for High A Modest, and have the “fast riser” profile. Both could find their way into the Mariners bullpen by the middle of the season.

Darin Gillies, Rob Whalen, and Chase De Jong could also be in the mix. A personal dark horse is 2017 3rd round pick Wyatt Mills. Mills, the former Gonzaga Bulldog, uses his deceptive arm slot, along with a good fastball-slider combo to dominate in Everett and Clinton, and could start the year as high a AA Arkansas (although Modest is more likely).

Next: Mariners Winter Meeting Primer, Part 1

In our final installation of our Winter Meeting Primer, we will take a look at some potential trade chips and targets. As we inch closer to both the Winter Meetings and the decision of Shohei Ohtani, one thing is certain: This is going to be a non-stop bonanza of a week.