The Seattle Mariners will look going into 2020 to continue retooling the ballclub. There is a good chance they likely wouldn’t go into the free-agent pool unless there is a free agent they can get at a bargain price. It could depend on how the prospects do the rest of the season as well.
I am sure Jerry Dipoto is hoping that at least one if not more prospects will be ready to go in 2020. In my mind, it will do with the pitching prospects primarily. I can see Justus Sheffield being in the starting rotation if he can correct the issues he has had with his delivery this season. The Mariners sent him down in June to double-A Arkansas to correct some things.
Not a big deal if he is able to get back to pitching well. Also, I could see Erik Swanson who was up with the Mariners earlier having a chance to be in the rotation too. Both players were part of the trade that sent James Paxton to the New York Yankees. Though the trade doesn’t seem to favor the Mariners right now things could turn around.
Another member of the rotations is the Mariners number two prospect Justin Dunn who they picked up in the Edwin Diaz-Robinson trade with the New York Mets. At this point, the trade has gone in favor of the Mariners. So we could say it has been even between those two New York trades.
Sheffield, Swanson, and Dunn three of the top pitching prospects are ready to go next season then they will be added to the rotation of Marco Gonzales and Yusei Kikuchi. This year Roenis Elias has done a fine job adjusting to being in the bullpen so Sheffield could go to the bullpen if the Mariners feel it would be a good spot for him. The same could go for Swanson and Dunn though they are right-handers, unlike Sheffield who is a lefty.
This all works out the Mariners wouldn’t have to go the free-agent route or make a trade to pick up a starter. Dipoto though may feel better to go in the free-agent market or make a trade.
Looking at the free-agent market in 2020 and 2021 neither year looks great when it comes to pitching especially if you are looking for pitchers that are under 30 years of age. Gerrit Cole of the Houston Astros is the highest-rated pitcher at 29 years old.
His value shows around $27 million which is the same amount that the Mariners are paying Felix Hernandez in his last year. The question will be the Mariners be willing to pay him that amount for four years or longer.
Other candidates would be Alex Wood of the Cincinnati Reds; however, he has been on the injured list because of soreness to his lower back all season so he likely would sign a one year contract at a bargain then go back on the free-agent market; Michael Wacha of the St. Louis Cardinals is having a poor year with an ERA of 5.30.
Julio Teheran of the Braves has an ERA of 3.99. What makes Teheran valuable is he has pitched at least 30 games a season for six years. He has started 18 games so far this year so he stays healthy to make it seven straight seasons of at least 30 games.
The Mariners may decide to go free-agent route when it comes to relief pitchers. There are not many quality relievers out on the market and most of them are in their mid-30s. Again this will depend on how the Mariners do after the all-star break.
Roenis Elias has found himself to be a good reliever after spending most of his career as a starter or long reliever. The Mariners may look to trade him in July as well since many teams trying to make the playoffs could use some relief help. Since he doesn’t cost much the Mariners could get a decent prospect in return.
Austin Adams has come along to become a reliable reliever for the Mariners to in the seventh or eighth inning. He has his fastball in control and his slider has been excellent. Also, he has a fierce attitude to go along with them both. He is showing he could be around in 2020 while the Mariners continue to retool. The rest of the bullpen is made up of relievers who are still on wait and see. It would be nice if at least one of them turns out to be another Austin Adams as well.
I expect the Mariners will likely bring in at least four new relievers to go along with three or four remaining from this season. When it comes to free-agent relievers three of them are former Mariners in Juan Nicasio, Anthony Swarzak and Steve Cishek. Many of the others will cost the Mariners more than they would want to spend.
Free agency in 2020 looks much better than in 2021. Most of the players eligible for free agency in 2021 are over 30 years old. You can count on one finger those who are under age 30 whether they are pitchers or position players.
Those who are looking to trade Kyle Seager before his contract runs out I would look at getting a third baseman in return. The Mariners have only one-third baseman in their top 30 prospects in Joe Rizzo at #22.
The odds against him making it to the majors since the Mariners have never had a position player that low to make the team. I would not be surprised if he were included in a trade over the next couple of years. If he does make the team it will be after the Mariners are contending for the playoffs.
Josh Donaldson will be one of the free-agent third baseman available this off-season; however, estimated to cost as much as Seager and then there is Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals his marked value is estimated over $29 million a year so that won’t happen.
If the Mariners go with someone in their system it would be Dylan Moore or Shed Long who they only consider to be utility players at this time. There is Ryon Healy, however, I expect the Mariners will trade him at some point unless his offense improves.
It would be nice if he were playing right now instead of being on the injured list. Shed Long being a starter it would likely be at second base if and when they trade Dee Gordon. I would like to keep Gordon around but probably won’t happen.
It is nice to see the Mariners are developing a good string of outfielders for years to come beginning with top prospect Jarred Kelenic, however, he is only 19 years old so the Mariners can their time to get him ready.
He comes up to the Mariners in the next couple of years will mean he is a superstar on the rising. Also, international signing Julio Rodriquez is 18 years old so may follow Kelenic in a year or two later.
The Mariners have former #1 draft pick Kyle Lewis and Jake Fraley who was just promoted to triple-A Tacoma and has gotten off to a great start. He likely will be up in September unless the Mariners need another outfielder before then. He could be a Mariner starter in the outfield next season.
There is a good possibility that the Mariners will trade Mallex Smith, or Domingo Santana or Mitch Haniger depending who would acquire the best return for a pitcher. One thing for sure Mariners is on the rise whether we realize it or not. Go M’s.