Perhaps the biggest hot button issue on Seattle Mariners’ social media groups is whether or not the team should trade outfielder Mitch Haniger. And like all debates, the correct answer likely lies in the middle.
The three loudest factions of this Mariners debate are; 1. the Mariners should have traded Haniger last winter, 2. Seattle must trade Haniger this off-season, and 3. the Mariners cannot trade Haniger this off-season. But the overwhelming truth is that there are major issues inside all 3 arguments.
Let’s start with the first argument, that GM Jerry Dipoto missed a major opportunity not trading Haniger last winter. There are obvious faults in this logic, the biggest of which is the assumption that the offers were rolling in for Haniger last winter. They weren’t.
By all accounts, only one team seriously engaged the Mariners in regards to a Haniger trade, the Atlanta Braves. The two sides talked and exchanged names but were unable to come to an agreement. And this is where the first argument falls apart.
When two sides are negotiating and the acquiring side won’t budge on their offer, it helps to be able to threaten to sell the player to another bidder. For the Mariners, this wasn’t an option. With only 1 team engaged, Dipoto couldn’t manufacture more leverage which left him with a choice: do I take what I can get, even if it’s not close to what I want? Or do I hold out and hope for better offers down the line. He opted for choice 2 and it was the right decision.
Selling players for less than they are worth to you is almost always a bad idea, especially when that player is cheap and has a lot of club control like Haniger. Selling anything just for the sake of selling is when bad deals happen. Remember, you can always recover from the deal you didn’t make, but you may never recover from the bad deal you made.
This leads us to the second argument: the Mariners have to trade Haniger this winter. Why do they have to do something with a player that has 3-years of club control? Simple answer, you don’t. Trading Haniger for “whatever you can get” is as foolish as it would have been last winter. Don’t ever sell for the sake of selling. It’s really that simple.
Finally, we have the third argument: Seattle shouldn’t trade Haniger this winter. I mean, even if they get an offer they like? The foundation of this argument is the idea that Haniger’s value is so low that it is smarter to just wait until July and hope Haniger regains value with a solid 2020.
Well, there are a few glaring issues with this argument. First, it assumes that Haniger’s value cannot get lower. This isn’t the case. What if Haniger is what he was in 2019? What if he gets hurt again? What if we discover the back issues are chronic? Not to mention that holding him for another 3 months means the acquiring team will get 3 fewer months of Haniger.
This faction also likes to tell you that the optimal strategy is to sign Haniger to an extension. While that may be an ideal play, we have no indication that Haniger would want to signs an extension and we can’t assume that he does. This could be beneficial to the Mariners, but that doesn’t mean it’s true.
It’s also not out of the realm of possibility that Haniger’s value could be higher than the last off-season. As crazy as it sounds, remember that only 1 team seriously engaged Dipoto last winter. Markets don’t get much smaller than 1 buyer.
A bigger market could mean a bidding war, which could artificially raise Haniger’s value. Not to mention, Haniger makes sense for more teams than he did last winter. The Reds, Padres, Rays, are all possible newcomers to the market, as well as the Red Sox, Dodgers, and Yankees.
It is also possible that none of those teams are interested. This brings us to the best position to have on this debate: if a team asks, you answer and if you get a deal you like, you take it. But if you don’t you hold on and wait.
This may not seem like rocket science, but this is a legitimate argument happening and these 3 factions are the loudest out there. But oftentimes, the people shouting the most have the least to say.
All 3 factions have glaring weaknesses in their arguments. Just as every faction has its strength in the argument. But anybody can see that this debate isn’t black and white. The simple truth is, they have to be willing to trade Haniger and willing to keep him. And wishes they did something that didn’t exist last winter is just a waste of time.
I would love to see Mitch Haniger in a Mariners uniform. I’d also love to see him being linked to other teams this winter. Ultimately, I want Dipoto to do what he thinks is best for his team in this rebuild. But either way, I’ll keep an open mind and not judge the deal until it actually happens. I recommend you do the same.