Seattle Mariners Winter Meetings 2018: What are they looking to add?
By Ty Gonzalez
For most of this offseason, the focus has been on who the Mariners are looking to subtract rather than who they may look to add. Rebuild and all, Seattle still has to field a proper 25-man roster come late March, and could add some Major League talent at this week’s Winter Meetings.
It comes as no surprise, but Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners are expected to be busy at the Winter Meetings over the next three days. More often than not, the meetings only produce more questions rather than answers, with teams beginning the legwork on future deals with other teams and agents. Some news will break, however, and it’s more likely than not that the Mariners will be at the center of at least one report given how their offseason has gone thus far.
Now six trades in, Dipoto and the M’s will continue discussing deals for the likes of Mike Leake, Carlos Santana, Kyle Seager, and even Mitch Haniger. It’s quite possible that another trade or two, perhaps involving some of the aforementioned players, have been in the works for some time and will be ironed out with face-to-face interaction.
Dipoto has also mentioned the desire to add to Seattle’s deconstructed bullpen. With Edwin Díaz, Nick Vincent, James Pazos, Juan Nicasio, and Álex Colomé now all gone, the Mariners are without an obvious late-inning reliever on their roster.
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Don’t expect Seattle to make a large splash in the free agent relief market, however. Instead, the likeliest outcome is a trade for a young, controllable reliever a la Sam Tuivailala, or a veteran free agent with some upside that the M’s could flip at the deadline.
Of the free agent relievers, names like Hunter Strickland and Brad Boxberger make the most sense. Both were non-tendered by their respective teams this offseason, and check the box of coming cheap and carrying an upside of being valuable come July. While Boxberger and Strickland specifically may not be Seattle’s particular targets, they’re the type of relievers Dipoto and company will likely covet if they choose to supplement their bullpen through free agency.
The M’s may also be in need of another outfielder, whether it be to fill in a bench role, platoon with Ben Gamel, or perhaps start if Haniger is dealt. Of course, this all really depends on what the plan is with Jay Bruce. Considering that Carlos Santana may never take a single at-bat in a Mariner uniform, it may be in Seattle’s best interests to potentially pencil in Bruce as their first baseman or designated hitter.
That may be an area likely filled at the back end of one of their upcoming trades, though the free agent market is certainly filled with solid, affordable options.
While the Mariners are taking a year or two off from putting their foot on the gas, don’t be surprised to see them wind up in the conversation for the household name or two. If Seattle believes that a player can help them now, but most importantly in 2021 and beyond, they will absolutely pull the trigger ahead of schedule.
The one player that fits the bill this offseason is Yusei Kikuchi, the 27-year-old southpaw from Japan whom the Mariners have been linked to. It’s possible we may find out Kikuchi’s decision during the Winter Meetings, though the Boras Corporation have never been shy to wait things out with their clients.
It’s hard to really gauge what the Mariners will actually do over the next three days, but we know they’ll be the busiest team at the Winter Meetings. If I had to guess, I think we’ll wind up with some news pretty soon.