Now that the World Series is over and the Washington Nationals surprised everyone except themselves the Hot Stove League now starts. What is important to us is what the Mariners do during this period.
Often November is the busiest month during the off-season. However, it begins off slowly where teams make minor moves. They look at seeing who to take off the 40-man roster to help acquire free agents, make trades and getting ready for the Rule 5 draft. So far Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has done the same thing.
Although no trades have been made, we should see something coming down real soon. We do know that Jerry has been busy talking with other general managers for possible trades. Also, he has made a list of possible free agents for the Mariners to sign as well.
I expect the list isn’t long and not made up of high priced free agents. The list is likely made up of players in the middle along with those they may sign to minor league contracts who will be invited to spring training.
A couple of players the Mariners signed the last off-season to minor league deals made their presence known at mid-season for the team in Austin Nola and Tim Lopes. Both players could be on the team from the outset this coming season. Nola will probably play a lot of first base along with being the team’s third catcher and a little time in the outfield as well.
Lopes, on the other hand, will likely be one of the Mariners utility players since the rosters are being expanded to 26 players instead of 25 this coming season. Lopes was expected to play some second base when he was called up initially on July 23 then had to go on the injured list a couple of days later because of being hit in the head that led to a concussion.
When he returned on August 6 he ended up playing a lot of left field because of the need for outfielders. Lopes had never played the outfield during his professional career; however, he did a good job in the field as well as at the plate.
He ended up hitting a solid .270. He didn’t play as much in September because the Mariner brass wanted to see Shed Long playing and he spent much of the time in left field though this coming season we could see him at second base a lot.
Speaking of second base, the thought is the Mariners will trade Dee Gordon during the off-season. Where Gordon goes and the Mariners get in return is anyone’s guess. Trading Gordon will give the Mariners plenty of chances to see Shed Long in the lineup; this will allow them to know whether Long is projected for the long term as well.
The Mariners may need to eat some or most of Gordon’s $13 million contract for the upcoming season. He has one more year after that in his contract; however, the Mariners would have an option to release him as well without paying out much. The Mariners could keep Gordon around until the trading deadline as well.
Other players the Mariners have to look at trading are outfielder-designated hitter Domingo Santana, outfielder Mitch Haniger, and outfielder Mallex Smith. The Mariners could trade all three or none of them as well. Thanks to his defense, Santana might be moved along with the fact they could get a good return for him. He could see some action at first base though it will be a crowded spot.
Mitch Haniger being out of action since May will not get as much return in a trade unless the other team feels he can rebound this coming season. Again who they will get for him and where he goes is in question as well.
Mallex Smith had a poor season most of all except leading the AL in stolen bases. He feels that he can rebound and have a solid season. Jerry Dipoto says the same thing; however, those could just be words to help get a good player in return.
The Mariners should look when trading Santana, Haniger, and Smith getting back a pitcher in return. The Mariners don’t need any more infielders or outfielders unless they are part of a multi-player trade. I am sure the Mariners would like to pick up at least one starter.
They could use some relief help as well since none of the current group has a guaranteed spot in the bullpen except possible right-hander Sam Tuivailala who is projected to be pitching in either the seventh or eighth innings.
The Mariners could trade Tuivailala if the right spot comes available. Currently, the Mariners have ten pitchers vying for a spot in the bullpen besides Tuivailala. This doesn’t count pitchers that are not on the 40-man roster.
So let it come to Dipoto we want to see action on the trade front well as signings over the next few days and weeks. You can surprise us as well as you did the last off-season though we won’t see as many. Go M’s.