Seattle Mariners Arbitration Candidates: Deal or No Deal

TORONTO, ON - MAY 8: James Paxton #65 of the Seattle Mariners is celebrates after throwing a no-hitter during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on May 8, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MAY 8: James Paxton #65 of the Seattle Mariners is celebrates after throwing a no-hitter during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on May 8, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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Mike Zunino: $4.2 Million – DEAL

TORONTO, ON – MAY 8: Mike Zunino #3 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on May 8, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – MAY 8: Mike Zunino #3 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on May 8, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

Say what you want about Mike Zunino as a hitter. The man is a great defender, and it helps keep him in the top 10-12 range of catchers in all of baseball. It’s a weak position, but Zunino’s power and defensive ability help to push him above average at catcher.

The question with him is whether the Mariners are going to get the Zunino that came back from his minor league stretch in 2017. The one where he hit .281 in the second half, and improved his eye as well, with an OBP of .376. He finished the entire year at .251/.331/.509 even after the poor start.

2018 was a totally different story. Mike Zunino barely finished above the Mendoza line, with a strong finish getting him to a batting average of .201. His slash line didn’t like good either, at .201/.259/.410. He still managed to hit 20 home runs, which kept his offensive WAR in the positive.

Due to the weakness of the position, Zunino is still a good value at $4.4 million. Don’t forget that there was a legitimate MVP argument for Zunino if he could match his top-level defense with the hitting ability that he showed in 2017. That’s why Zunino will get a DEAL.

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