Seattle Mariners Need Outfield Depth, Is Aaron Altherr be an Option?

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 27: Aaron Altherr of the Philadelphia Phillies rounds the bases afer hitting a two-run home run off of relief pitcher Edwin Diaz #39 of the Seattle Mariners that also scored Freddy Galvis #13 of the Philadelphia Phillies during the ninth inning of a game at Safeco Field on June 27, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. The Phillies won the game 8-2. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 27: Aaron Altherr of the Philadelphia Phillies rounds the bases afer hitting a two-run home run off of relief pitcher Edwin Diaz #39 of the Seattle Mariners that also scored Freddy Galvis #13 of the Philadelphia Phillies during the ninth inning of a game at Safeco Field on June 27, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. The Phillies won the game 8-2. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /
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The Seattle Mariners have a lot of talent in their minor league system, particularly in the outfield. But most of that talent is at least a year away and Seattle has some outfield issues now.

The lack of depth in the Mariners outfield is on display right now. When the team sent Mallex Smith down, a lack of quality options may have forced the team to rush Braden Bishop to the big leagues.

Thankfully, there are outside options if the Mariners decide to go that direction. One potential option was recently DFAd by the Philadelphia Phillies and could provide some upside to the team’s bench.

That player is Aaron Altherr. The 28-year-old outfielder is currently in DFA limbo, waiting for a team to either trade him, release him, or send him down to the minors. Altherr burst onto the MLB scene back in 2017 when he hit .272/.340/.516 with 19 home runs and 5 steals in 107 games.

At the time, it appeared to be a breakout for the minor league star. At the time, the 26-year-old had all a bevy of tools that scouts drooled over. But things have gone downhill since and in 2018 and 2019, Altherr has played in 127 games and slashed just .165/.273/.305 with 8 homers.

Altherr was out of options and when Odubel Herrera was ready to come off the IL, the Phillies decided to cut bait with the young outfielder. So what makes him an interesting option for Seattle?

First, the 2017 season did happen. It may seem fluky, but it happened and represents the current upside of Altherr. Second, he does have a good track record in the minors and is still in his athletic prime.

Third, he can play all 3 outfield spots and would arguably be the second best defender on the roster behind Bishop. In addition, he does have tools to work with, including 50-grade power and speed (20-80 scale) as well as 50-grade defense and a 60-grade arm.

Finally, he will come cheap. It is possible he clears waivers and elects for free agency. In that case, the Mariners could sign him to a minor league deal to stash in AAA until Bruce is either traded or DFA’d.

If the Mariners can find a mechanical adjustment to his swing path that allows him to keep his power, he could be a solid fourth outfielder for basically free. If the team has to trade for him, it could be a different story. They do have an open spot on the 40-man roster but Altherr is out of options so he would need to join the big league team immediately.

Altherr is a project at this point but one that could have an immense return on the investment. At worse, he’s toast and cost you nothing. At best, he returns to his 2017 form, is a solid, everyday bat, and will be under club control until after the 2021 season.

Next. Mariners Trade for Reliever. dark

Aaron Altherr won’t excite many fans. But he is exactly the type of player Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto should be willing to take a risk on.

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