The Seattle Mariners outfield for next season will likely not be much different than 2019 since the top prospects are at least another year or two away.
#1 prospect outfield Jarred Kelenic began the season at low level-A West Virginia, then promoted to high-level A Modesto Nuts on May 30 then to Double-A Arkansas on August 11. At 20 years old he is on the fast track to the major leagues, however, he probably won’t be in Seattle until the latter part of 2020.
#3 prospect Julio Rodriguez started the year in low level-A as well. It is his first year playing professionally in the USA, at the age of 18. On August 15, he was promoted to Modesto. Next season, he will start at Modesto or Double-A Arkansas. Both Kelenic and Rodriguez look to be superstars real soon.
Mitch Haniger started the season in right field while playing some center field when Mallex Smith having trouble in the field. Haniger was having trouble at the plate with an average of .220, though he had 15 home runs when he went on the injured list on June 7. He recently went on a rehab assignment. The Mariners are hoping he will be back soon.
Unless someone is willing to give the Mariners a top prospect or two, Haniger is likely to return in 2020. I expect the Mariners would want a pitcher or an infielder or both. If he stays with the Mariners he will be playing in right field.
Mallex Smith, who began the season in center field, hasn’t been the player the Mariners were hoping for when they picked him up the last off-season in a trade with Tampa Bay Rays for Mike Zunino. He spent a little time in Tacoma as well.
What is working in his favor he has been his hard work, coming to the ballpark early, working with third base/outfielder coach Chris Prieto. Despite the hard work, the Mariners may decide to trade Smith. He could be in Seattle for 2020; however, seems likely to be traded before the 2021 season.
Braden Bishop began the season on the Mariner roster in Japan where the team had a 28-player roster. When the Mariners returned to Seattle, Bishop was sent down to Tacoma when the roster went back to 25. At the end of April, he was recalled to Seattle when Mallex Smith was sent down. Two weeks later he was sent back to Tacoma when Smith was recalled.
On June 2, Bishop was recalled to Seattle once again. The plan was for Bishop to be the 4th outfielder. The Mariners moved Mallex Smith to left field, with Mitch Haniger moving to center field and Doming Santana to right field.
The plan was to have Bishop enter the game late for defensive purposes for either Smith or Santana along platooning with Smith starting against lefties. This was scrapped a day later when Haniger went on the disabled and then, three days later, Bishop did as well for a lacerated spleen. Now Bishop is on a rehab assignment, he should return to Seattle soon.
Next season, Bishop may start in the Mariner outfield or be the 4th outfielder. The Mariners could trade him during the off-season as part of a multi-player. Similar to when the Mariners traded outfielder Guillermo Heredia along with Mike Zunino to Tampa Bay.
Domingo Santana began the season in left field. It was a change for him since he played mostly right field in Milwaukee. He had a hard time defensively in the outfield. The Mariners moved him back to right field at the beginning of June. Though he wasn’t great in right field, he did look more comfortable.
In late July, Santana injured his right elbow. He has played 14 games at DH. Whether he preferred being in the field or not, he was hitting .060 for August. On August 20 the Mariners placed Santana on the 10-day injured list.
Jake Fraley, whom the Mariners acquired with Mallex Smith from Tampa Bay, was promoted from Triple-A Tacoma. He began the season in Double-A Arkansas. In 61 games with Arkansas, Fraley hit .313 with 11 home runs and 47 RBI’s. Also, he had 16 stolen bases.
On June 20, Jake Fraley was promoted to Tacoma. In 38 games, he hit .276 with 8 home runs and 33 RBI’s. He had six stolen bases too. The Mariners may have promoted Fraley earlier, but he was placed on the 7-day injured list on August 5. He was reactivated on August 12.
Fraley can play all three outfield positions, but the Mariners will play him mostly in center field at this time.
Keon Broxton, who the Mariners acquired off the waiver wire at the end of July from the Baltimore Orioles, has been known more for his glove than his bat. Since the Mariners have had trouble in the field since Haniger and Bishop went on the injured list.
He has played all his games for the Mariners in center field. The Mariners brass is hoping hitting coach Tim Laker can help Broxton with the flaws in his swing. Right now he is hitting .158 with the Mariners.
The Mariners, at times, had only two outfielders available and instead used utility player Dylan Moore along with infielders Tim Lopes and Ryan Court in left and right field. Both Lopes, Court, and Austin Nola who has played all over the field made their major league debut when called up to Seattle from Tacoma.
As for me, I see Jake Fraley in center field next season with Mitch Haniger in right. The Mariners have always had problems keeping someone in left field as a regular. Jarred Kelenic maybe in left if he is somehow able to make the team out of spring training or in the second half of the season.
If Jerry Dipoto doesn’t trade Mallex Smith or Braden Bishop, they could platoon in left field until Kelenic is ready to come to the major leagues. Domingo Santana will either be traded or moved to first base and designated hitter.
One thing for sure the outfield will look better next season than this year. This will be especially true on the defensive side. Go M’s.