Seattle Mariners sign utilityman Dylan Moore to MLB contract
By Ty Gonzalez
The Mariners have made their first free agent signing of the offseason, and no — it’s not a name you’ll recognize. But this could be a move that’s significant for more than one reason, so let’s get into it.
Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Mariners have signed 26-year-old utility player Dylan Moore to a Major League contract. Moore was originally drafted by the Texas Rangers in the seventh round of the 2015 MLB Draft. Ranked 26th in the Brewers farm system by FanGraphs, Moore has now made his way to the Pacific Northwest and will get a shot to make Seattle’s Major League club out of the gate.
Though it appears Moore has found a home at first base, our snap reaction to the move is that the M’s likely see him as their new utility player for the upcoming season. In 2018, Moore played the bulk of his time at third base, second base, and first base, with some innings logged in at left field and shortstop as well. After basically wasting a roster spot on Andrew Romine for an entire season in 2018, the Mariners may be favoring offense over defense from their utility spot with this move.
With Double-A Biloxi and Triple-A Colorado Springs last year, Moore slashed a combined .299/.363/.522 line with 14 home runs and 58 RBI. If Moore can even sniff those numbers at the Major League level, that would be a significant upgrade over what the Mariners received from Romine last season.
However, it’s quite possible Seattle also views Moore strictly as a first baseman, as his defense has been extremely shaky elsewhere. In his 56 games at third base last year, Moore committed an abysmal 10 errors. He piled on top of that number with four at second base, one in left field, and one at first. Given that this team has often played it conservatively with their bench pieces, often favoring defense-first players with very little offensive capability, it’s hard to judge Moore’s position on this team. It’s even harder because the Mariners have guaranteed him a Major League contract.
Let’s say that Moore is strictly a first baseman, however. This further pushes the idea that Daniel Vogelbach has little-to-no chance of making this roster out of Spring Training. With no Minor League options remaining, the Mariners will likely look to trade Vogelbach sometime this Winter to get at least something for him. We proposed a hypothetical Vogelbach-to-Baltimore deal in our offseason plan earlier this week.
The Moore signing also may give us some sort of indication on what the Mariners intend to do with Ryon Healy and Dee Gordon. With Robinson Canó expected to return to second base full-time and Mallex Smith seemingly brought in to take over center field duties, Gordon seems to be the odd-man out. There was — and perhaps still is — a chance that Gordon could be kept on as a rather expensive utility player, but Moore’s acquisition paired with the presence of Kristopher Negrón seems to tell us that the M’s will go a much cheaper route to solidify that spot on their bench.
As for Healy, the 26-year-old first baseman may find himself either in a new organization or in Triple-A Tacoma when the 2019 season begins, especially if Moore is considered to be a first baseman. There have been murmurs that Healy’s name has been brought up in recent trade discussions, so the M’s may be even more inclined to move him with the added depth in Moore.
This all could just be a simple overreaction as well, but it’s definitely an interesting development given the contract Moore has reportedly signed. At the very least, it’s another topic of discussion in what should be another incredibly busy offseason for Jerry Dipoto and co.