FREE AGENT SIGNING: OF LONNIE CHISENHALL
Contract details: One year, $4.5 million
The Mariners will miss Denard Span, but it’s possible they could find a very similar player on the open market this offseason. For us, that player is Lonnie Chisenhall, someone we’ve briefly talked about for Seattle in the past. Chisenhall has been one of Cleveland’s most consistently productive hitters over the years, but he just hasn’t been able to stay on the field for the majority of his career. At 30-years-old, he’s hitting free agency for the first time and the Mariners give him a great opportunity to bounce back in.
Chisenhall enters our plan as Seattle’s fourth outfielder, but where we really see him getting the most playing time is at designated hitter. With career splits that check out well against both right-handed and left-handed pitchers, Chisenhall gives the M’s another dynamic hitter they could utilize in multiple situations. While he doesn’t give you striking power numbers, Chisenhall can still run into one every now and then. He’s more of a gap-to-gap hitter, however, which is exactly what Span was for this team in 2018.
There’s an added level of flexibility in acquiring Chisenhall as well. In addition to playing both corner outfield spots, Chisenhall can play both third base and first base in a pinch. It should be noted, however, that he hasn’t played the hot corner since 2016, but we don’t see a reason why playing him there for a handful of games would be the end of the world. Seattle could also slot Ryon Healy, Kristopher Negrón, or Robinson Canó there if Kyle Seager needs an extended blow.
Health, of course, is the biggest factor in how productive Chisenhall truly could be in 2019. If he plays 120 or so games, he could end up being a bigger contributor than Span was. If not, the investment in him is so small that it doesn’t really matter in the end. Chisenhall is a really good player to take a flyer on. Depending on how you look at it, it’s a very low-risk, high-reward deal from Seattle’s end. It also gives Chisenhall a better opportunity to play fairly often, which is something most playoff contenders probably can’t offer him.
(Written by Ty Gonzalez)