The 2019 Seattle Mariners are starting to take form. With a few big contract trade chips left to find deals for, GM Jerry Dipoto still needs to fill out his 25 man roster for the upcoming season.
Dipoto acknowledged as much when we admitted that the Mariners were still going to need to sign several relief arms, and mentioned that the closer for the upcoming season likely wasn’t on the roster yet. He also reiterated his interest in finding a veteran infielder who can play shortstop as to not rush J.P. Crawford until he was absolutely ready.
On this constant stance from Jerry Dipoto, we have taken a look at a rather thin free agent market for shortstops. We have already talked about Freddy Galvis (read here) and Jose Iglesias (read here), but perhaps the real answer is a name from the past. Perhaps the answer is none other than former Mariners shortstop Brad Miller.
Now before you scoff at the very notion, let’s break down the idea. First and foremost, would this move make sense for the Mariners? Yes. Seattle’s search for a stop-gap shortstop limits the market a bit.
Think about it: Why would Galvis or Iglesias come if he was basically assured just 6-8 weeks of being a starter? Their values are already about as high as they will ever be. On the other hand, Brad Miller’s value can’t get lower. Miller won’t permanently block any player, and actually has a chance to help the club all year, or even build some trade value later in the season.
Yes, Brad Miller is a poor defensive shortstop. But he has logged MLB innings at 8 of the 10 offensive positions. This versatility is a selling point for keeping Miller around. Even when Crawford is ready, Miller can slide to second, third, or first when needed, especially if Dipoto is able to find trades for 2 players we know to be “on the block”, Kyle Seager and Dee Gordon.
But again, Miller has an opportunity to build up his trade value with everyday at-bats. It was just 2 years ago the left-handed hitter slugged 30 home runs. He still has above-average speed and is a pretty good athlete. While a contender would need to be pretty desperate to give him an everyday job, he does sound like an excellent bench piece for contenders in July.
And if he doesn’t rebuild any value, you simply DFA him when Crawford is ready, without losing much of anything. So yes, Brad Miller does make sense for the Mariners.
But of course, the player must have an interest in order to sign a contract. Do the Mariners make sense for Brad Miller? Yes. If Brad Miller wants to continue his MLB career, what he needs more than anything is an opportunity for everyday at-bats. As we saw with the Jean Segura trade market, the number of teams who need a shortstop are slim. And that list shrinks for Miller who is mediocre at best defensively.
Seattle offers him one of the only legitimate opportunities for access to be in a lineup every day, even if it is just for a short while. Miller is quite familiar with Seattle, so there should be a certain comfort level as well.
In short, the Mariners need somebody who can handle shortstop until Crawford is ready. Brad Miller needs an opportunity to re-establish himself as a legitimate, big league player. A Mariners-Miller reconnection makes a lot of sense for both sides, even if it likely a short-term relationship.