The Seattle Mariners need to trade away a few outfielders this off-season, but they also need to add at least one, but with a few caveats. Today, we look for the perfect solution.
The Mariners need to move an outfielder or two this off-season, this we all know. But as we work our way through an off-season, one thing has become increasingly clear, at least to me. Seattle also needs to add an outfielder this off-season as well. Sounds odd right? Allow me to explain.
Yes, the Mariners have a glut of MLB ready outfielders on their 40-man roster. Or so we think. But to make the assumption that this is the case, we actually need to take a few leaps of faith. First, we need to believe, despite no evidence, that both Jake Fraley and Braden Bishop can hit big-league pitching enough to justify 400 or more PAs.
Now in fairness to both of them, we certainly don’t have enough evidence to say they can’t either. But that is the point, they are unknown and neither players 2019 season ended with a lot of success. We have been working under the assumption that one or both will open the season on the 26-man roster, but the odds that both spend time in AAA Tacoma may be just as high.
Next, we move to two players who missed large chunks of the season with an injury; Mitch Haniger and Domingo Santana. For Haniger, a lingering back issue ended his comeback attempt and at 28-years-old, back issues aren’t something to brush off.
Santana injured his right elbow in July and after trying to play through, he was basically shut down for the remainder of 2019. Santana was able to appear in a handful of games at the end of the season, but we still have no way of knowing how bad the injury is.
That just leaves Mallex Smith as the last man standing and if you don’t think there are serious concerns about his play in 2019, you probably didn’t watch Mariners baseball. Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez are both coming fast, but neither will likely be considered for a call up until late June or July and Rodriguez probably won’t see the Majors at all in 2020.
So yes, the Mariners do have a lot of outfielders. But do they have the right ones to get through an entire season? Remember, every team has to cover 486 games. While the Mariners were able to fill out the final months of the season with Ryan Court, Tim Lopes, Dylan Moore, and Keon Broxton, that simply won’t be good enough in 2020.
Remember, while the goal isn’t to win 100 games in 2020, there still needs to be growth both individually and in the win column. In order to this, the Mariners need to continue to develop their young guys while also raising the floor of their roster.
But if the Mariners need to add an outfielder, what should they be looking at? Well, first and foremost, somebody who can handle centerfield a few times a week and not kill you. If Bishop and Fraley start the year in Tacoma, you really don’t have a true centerfielder on your roster.
Yes, Haniger can fill in there, but he loses value and increases his chances for injuries every game he’s out there. Smith is fine but is ultimately better suited for left field( if he’s even on the team).
In addition to centerfield experience, a player on a shorter-term deal is more ideal than a 3-year or longer contract. It’s not that the Mariners should ignore anybody who falls into the second camp, but you do ultimately want to give your young outfielder opportunities at the big league level, just when they are ready.
Veterans also play a key role in helping a young team learn the ins and outs of the game and while the Mariners aren’t trotting out a bunch of 22-year-olds, they have lost some of those voices recently, so adding a clubhouse presence would be a nice bonus.
As you might expect, finding somebody to fit all 3 criteria will be difficult. But there are a few names who check at least a few of these boxes. These include free agents like Adam Jones, Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner, and Jarrod Dyson as well as potential trade candidates like Kevin Pillar or Jackie Bradley Jr.
We have no choice but to wait and see how the outfield situation works itself out in Seattle. But even if the Mariners don’t make significant moves to clear up their outfield, they still need to raise the floor to their current group.