Who Could be the Mariners Version of the Manny Machado Signing?

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 08: Francisco Lindor #12 of the Cleveland Indians reacts as he runs the bases after hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning against the Houston Astros during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field on October 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 08: Francisco Lindor #12 of the Cleveland Indians reacts as he runs the bases after hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning against the Houston Astros during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field on October 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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As news broke yesterday that Manny Machado was going to sign with the San Diego Padres I started thinking about the Mariners and their stated desire to be competitive by the 2021 season. I saw the Padres move for Machado as exactly the type of move that they needed to make to accelerate their timeline and ignite their fan base.

With Machado in tow (or at least rumored to be since the signing isn’t official yet) and uber-prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. knocking on the door, the Padres appear poised to take a big step forward sooner rather than later. So what does that have to do with our Mariners?

The Mariners find themselves in a somewhat similar position as the Padres, albeit a year or two behind. A team in the rebuilding stages that will need to make a big splash sooner rather than later in order to augment their young core and become a World Series contender.

Under General Manager Jerry Dipoto the Mariners haven’t dipped their toes into the deep end of free agency as Dipoto views free agency as a way to add the final piece(s) needed, not a way to find the building blocks of a contender.

That mindset makes sense and there is finally a chance that the Mariners have the young foundation needed to build a contender. If things play out like the front office hopes, then this team will be heading straight into contention for the 2021 season, but to really make their mark the Mariners will need a boost from outside the organization the way the Padres are getting one from signing Machado.

Next year’s free agent class has some star names (Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon, and Xander Bogaerts to name a few), but ones that might not fit. While every team would love to have any of the aforementioned stars, the Mariners would need to find a way to move on from Kyle Seager to have any shot of acquiring those three.

Those three are also going to be extremely hard to pry away as Colorado is already trying to find ways to retain Arenado, the Nationals probably won’t want to lose Rendon if Bryce Harper heads elsewhere in the coming days, and the Red Sox don’t generally lose players they want to keep.

The 2020-2021 free agent class has potential fits in megastar Mike Trout (we can all dream right?), MVP Mookie Betts, and George Springer. The Mariners could be looking for an outfielder depending on how the prospects mature and guys like Mallex Smith and Domingo Santana perform.

Trout and Betts are probably just pipe dreams and I’m not sold on Springer being the player that will get this team over the hump. I’m not saying he’s a bad player, far from it, but I don’t see him making the impact that Machado will make on the Padres.

That brings me to the 2021-2022 class, and this is where we might just find our version of the Machado signing. By this off-season, Seager could be in the last year of his contract (he has an option for 2022) and the Mariners should know by then which prospects worked out and which ones didn’t. They will be coming off of a season that in their mind will be a playoff season and could be looking for that final championship caliber piece.

The 2021-2022 off-season might be a perfect storm for the Mariners. A playoff run could be on the horizon and Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, and Corey Seager are all scheduled for free agency.

Enter shortstop Francisco Lindor. While the Mariners hope that J.P. Crawford is their future shortstop, Lindor would be too good to not pursue and the Mariners could slide Crawford to second base, or even use him as Seager’s replacement the following season. Lindor would be 28 entering the 2022 season and would be right in the middle of his prime.

His signing would provide a boost similar to what Machado will give the Padres and he could be the player that vaults the team to World Series contender. Lindor also might be the most realistic target of the names mentioned for the Mariners as Lindor’s current team, the Cleveland Indians, have never shown a willingness to spend the type of money that Lindor is going to be aiming for.

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While it won’t be easy signing someone like Lindor, and the Mariners wouldn’t be the only team interested, he’s exactly the type of splash the team could need to make a push for a World Series in 2022.

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