Mariners Should Pursue Potential Improvement to Utility Spot

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 28: Drew Jackson #6 of the Baltimore Orioles runs to first base on a double during the eighth inning of the game against the Baltimore Orioles during Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on March 28, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. This was his major league debut. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 28: Drew Jackson #6 of the Baltimore Orioles runs to first base on a double during the eighth inning of the game against the Baltimore Orioles during Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on March 28, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. This was his major league debut. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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It may be early in the Mariners season, but the opportunity to add talent to their big league roster is still worth pursuing. Yesterday, a familiar name was DFA’d and could be part of the solution to the Mariners defensive woes.

The Mariners defense is never going to be much better than average, at least in 2019. Getting Kyle Seager back in June will certainly help. But until then, the defense is going to be an issue. One way to mitigate some of those risks is to have a good utility option to play in the later innings.

The Mariners have already done that many times this season, usually by subbing in Dylan Moore late in the game and moving Ryon Healy back to first base. But Moore has been underwhelming, albeit in a very limited sample size. But an old friend is now available and has more upside and versatility than Moore.

The old friend is former Seattle prospect, Drew Jackson. Jackson was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the Rule 5 draft and immediately flipped to Baltimore. After only 4 PAs, Jackson was designated for assignment to make room for Dan Straily and is now on the waiver wire.

Jackson, the 25-year-old shortstop, is coming off a breakout 2018 season in AA, where he slashed .251/.356/.447 with 15 home runs and 22 steals in just 104 games. While the offense was solid and Jackson showed more power than he ever had, Jackson’s real value is on defense.

A solid, above-average shortstop, Jackson has an absolute cannon that scouts have put a 70-grade arm on him(20-80 scale). Jackson also has plus speed, somewhere between a 60-65 grade. Jackson has the arm, footwork, and versatility to handle second and third as well.

The hit tool is still a wait-and-see and the power will probably never be more than 15 home run power. Moore is likely a better hitter than Jackson, although perhaps not by much. Jackson has a better toolset to work with than Moore.

Moore does have an option remaining, so the Mariners could send him down without losing him. Jackson, as a Rule 5 Draft pick, will have to stay on the roster all season or be offered back to the Dodgers.

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There is no guarantee that Jackson is an upgrade to Moore, but in this stepback season, going with upside over safety is the way to go. Jackson may not make the Mariners better now, but has a better chance to be an asset down the road.

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