Seattle Mariners: Desperation, necessity, and the in-between

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: Adam Jones #10 of the Baltimore Orioles reacts after striking out in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 21, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: Adam Jones #10 of the Baltimore Orioles reacts after striking out in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 21, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

Due to an extraordinary second half from the Oakland Athletics, the Mariners will miss the MLB playoffs for the 17th season in a row.

This was not a bad season for the Mariners, and they should once again be in the playoff mix next season. But they have quite a few glaring holes that need to be addressed over the coming months, and thankfully, they have the money to spend to do so.

Yet, there is always that one lingering question heading into every offseason – can the Mariners attract significant pieces they oh-so desire to the Pacific Northwest? If they can’t, will they hit the panic button and scramble to acquire “the next best thing,” or will they throw a lot of money at a player simply for their namesake?

If you’re wondering where I’m going with this, “the next best thing” would be in reference to a player such as Jon Jay, while the latter is a direct reference to one Adam Jones.

Players like Jay are solid additions that help fill your lineup and give you solid production at the bottom of your lineup, which is fine for a team looking to become more consistent. I would not have a problem acquiring Jay or a player of his caliber.

Such moves, while necessary, don’t push you over the top, and while the Mariners have significant star power at the top of their roster, there is a clear divide between talent levels at a certain point. While I’m not particularly clamoring for the Mariners to sign another superstar this offseason, such as Bryce Harper, I do think they need to find another player that fits right in the center of solid role player and superstar. Think A.J. Pollock or even Michael Brantley.

Going after someone like Jones, however, not only makes the team older than it already is, but doesn’t necessarily make it better either. Jerry Dipoto has the complicated task of balancing the youth of his Major League roster and revitalizing the farm while simultaneously fielding a contender to capitalize on their ever-shrinking window.

Given Dipoto’s awkward predicament, hitting on players from ages 29-32 seems ideal. This is not a team that can afford throwing wads of cash at players signing what could be the final contract of their careers. Nelson Cruz, realistically, is the lone exception in all of this, but you’re not asking him to do much other than hit.

Say the Mariners were to move on from Ryon Healy this offseason and replace him with Joe Mauer. While Mauer is statistically the better first baseman, he’s also 37-years-old and doesn’t give you much of a long-term solution. He also may be in line for a decent payday, along the lines of $7-8 million, which would serve the Mariners better if supplied elsewhere.

No matter what path Dipoto’s Mariners take, there will always be risks with seemingly high rewards. The Mariners could hit on another older veteran in the way they did with Nelson Cruz, or they could stand pat at certain positions and see great improvement from the likes of Healy, Dee Gordon, and Mike Zunino. All of that could also go horribly wrong, in similar ways to which it did this season.

Not every decision the Mariners’ front office make this offseason will go right. Finding that in-between of desperation and necessity is hard, because it relies upon targeting players, specifically of the Pollock or Jay variety, that will show you interest and accept team-friendly contracts.

Additionally, burning cash and years on players closing in on the finale of the careers is not the kind of veteran depth this team needs. Any deal on a player in their mid-30s that exceeds what Denard Span is making would ultimately be an immediate failure.

Take risks, but not ones that the fate of your season depends on. Instead, do something along the lines of taking a flyer on Garrett Richards. Don’t take the risk of acquiring another player and depend on them learning a new position or developing a better plate approach in a few months time.

This is a very delicate time for the Mariners. For as middle-of-the-road as this organization has been over the past few years, it’s impossible for them to be more middle-of-the-road than they are entering this offseason.

Read. The Mariners are not as close as you think. light

There are very few solutions to escaping their current position, many of which hinge upon everything going right in the upcoming free agency period. Other options involve, of course, a rebuild, which spirals this organization into further postseason futility.