Seattle Mariners Future Does Look Bright

SEATTLE, WA - MAY 27: Mitch Haniger #17 of the Seattle Mariners, left, J.P. Crawford #3, center, Mallex Smith #0 celebrate their win over the Texas Rangers at T-Mobile Park on May 27, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - MAY 27: Mitch Haniger #17 of the Seattle Mariners, left, J.P. Crawford #3, center, Mallex Smith #0 celebrate their win over the Texas Rangers at T-Mobile Park on May 27, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /
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Though the Mariners are playing subpar baseball especially after getting off to the 13-2 in March and April things will get better.  As co-contributor Colton Swanson said in his post “Seattle Mariners “Retool” is Off to a Great Start” on the surface it looks bad, the future does look good. The position players are doing well on the major league level along with the minor leagues, especially at double-A Arkansas.

Mitch Haniger is the lone man as a holdover in the outfield though he isn’t playing right now because of injury. He is expected back after the all-star break. His future looks to be in center field if he stays with the Mariners since Domingo Santana feels more comfortable in right field instead of left. Mallex Smith is playing fine in center field with Haniger out but he looks like more of a fit in left field.

His future in Seattle is in doubt though. It all depends on how the prospects work out. Jake Fraley was just promoted from double-A to triple-A Tacoma. He could end up playing in any of the three outfield spots in Seattle. Smith will likely stay the remaining of this season but the Mariners might trade him during the off-season.

One thing we do know is the outfield could get crowded as soon as next season so the Mariners may trade one of these guys for pitching. Jarred Kelenic, the Mariners number one prospect who came over in the trade from the New York Mets for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano, is likely safe.

If Kelenic makes it up anytime next season it means the Mariners feel he is ready to go and be a superstar. The last time the Mariners had a position player around the same age making his debut in the major leagues was Alex Rodriguez.

Another player who may come up sooner than later is an international player Julio Rodriguez. The 18-year-old started out well at West Virginia before an injury that cost him some time. However, he is back playing ball once again and could be up with the Mariners in 2021 or 2022. If so, this could mean he is a superstar in the making as well. Right now the Mariners can take the time to bring up Kelenic and Rodriguez.

The Mariners 2016 number one draft pick Kyle Lewis has taken longer because of a knee injury. He is at AA Arkansas playing his first full season. However, if the Mariners like their depth in the outfield, they may move him for pitching or other prospects.

Also, the Mariners have Braden Bishop who was expected to start in the outfield when they traded Jay Bruce. Unfortunately, like Haniger, he is on the IL with a ruptured spleen. Bishop is expected to return by September. He and Jake Fraley both may be on the roster in 2020.

In the infield, J.P. Crawford looks like the real thing at shortstop. He could be playing the position for quite a few years. The Mariners do have a couple of international players who could play shortstop or be moved to another position but they are several years away from the major leagues.

Shed Long, who spent time in Seattle because of injury to Dee Gordon, could be the future second baseman or a super utility player who will play some third base and outfield as well. Dylan Moore played shortstop while JP Crawford was on the injured list well as some third base and second base.

He can play the corner outfield positions as well. Right now it’s hard to know whether he will be the Mariners utility player or not in the future. He has shown a little power but is hitting only .208.

At first base, the future looks like will be 2017 first round pick and number five prospect Evan White. He is playing ball at double-A Arkansas. The Mariners may promote him soon to triple-A Tacoma. Defensively he is already an outstanding first baseman. His arrival in Seattle will be when he can hit major league pitching.

Right now Seattle has Daniel Vogelbach as the first baseman when he isn’t at designated hitter where most feel he will be at in the future. He may still play at first base on occasion. Ryon Healy should play some first base when he returns from the injured list. The Mariners may look to trade him at some point.

The Mariners retool the real question has to do in the pitching department. How the pitching develops will decide whether the Mariners make the playoffs or not. In the rotation, next year, Seattle will have Marco Gonzales and Yusei Kikuchi.

The question is who will join them? The Mariners could bring back Wade LeBlanc and Tommy Milone in the fourth and fifth spots but who will fill the third spot? The Mariners will have Felix Hernandez salary off the books, so they could go out and sign a free agent who might be the ace of the team or fit in the number two or three spots.

Mike Leake has a good chance to be traded before the trading deadline. The Mariners will probably pay the other team around the same percentage they did when they let Jay Bruce go.

Justin Dunn the Mariners acquired from the New York Mets trade as well for Edwin Diaz and Robinson is currently a starting pitcher at double-A Arkansas. He might be in the rotation in September as well as extending to next season.

Also, there is a possibility he could end up in the bullpen, however, the Mariners will give him every opportunity stick as a starter. Logan Gilbert, Seattle’s number one draft pick last year, is dominating High Level-A at Modesto after starting the season his first as a professional at lower-A West Virginia. He could be in the starting rotation in the second half of 2020 or in 2021.

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Another candidate for the 2020 rotation is left-hander Justus Sheffield who Seattle acquired in the James Paxton trade with the New York Yankees. Sheffield struggled in AAA Tacoma, recently was sent down to double-A. Also, Erik Swanson, another pitcher acquired in the Paxton trade, started six games for Seattle before being sent back to Triple-A ball could be in the rotation too.

As far as the bullpen goes this might be the biggest question mark of all. Austin Adams and Roenis Elias are both doing well at the end of the bullpen but whether they will be the answer long term is up in the air. Jerry Dipoto could go out to acquire a pitcher or two being the setup man in the eighth and a closer.

Sunday this week the Mariners brought up two relievers in Mike Wright, who had pitched earlier in Seattle, and newcomer Matt Carasiti from Tacoma. Both pitchers came out of the bullpen on Sunday. Carasiti came in first, relieving Yusei Kikuchi in the seventh inning. He did a fine job throwing the ball over the plate.

He could be someone they try in the opener role as well. Wright pitched the final two innings doing a fine job. He was scheduled to start for Tacoma so he was available to go as many innings the Mariners needed to. We will have to see if they are only short term or have any future in Seattle.

The Mariners drafting nine pitchers in the first eleven picks this year; how all that works out will help determine the time frame over the next several years too. The chances are good that the Mariners will trade several them because they will have only a few spots to insert them in.

How soon the retooling will be completed and Seattle compete for the American League West division and the playoffs will be when the pitching staff is up to what we would call at the top of the major league chain.

There are those fans who are questioning the trading of Edwin Diaz to the New York Mets along with Robinson Cano. Had the trade not occurred it may have taken several years for the Mariners to make the playoffs. When you look at 89 wins over the season of 2018 you may think the Mariners could make the playoffs soon.

However, the Mariners had a downslide after the all-star break. The slide cost many of the Mariner players a job for 2019. Dipoto recognized they may continue to win in the mid to upper 80s but would not by-pass the Houston Astros for several years and you have to count the Yankees and Red Sox too.

Related Story. Seattle Mariners “Retool” is Off to a Great Start. light

This retooling may take a couple of years but that is better than then watching the team not make the playoffs for the next four or five years at least.  In the meantime, we can watch some exciting young players as they learn to win in the process. Something we haven’t seen for a long time or ever. Go M’s.

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