Mariners could benefit from already thinning position in free agency
Unlike last winter, we are already seeing some big names come off the board in free agency this winter. And thanks to two key signings last week, the Mariners are in a good position to take advantage.
The 2019 Mariners had very few bright spots at the big league level. But one of the exceptions was at the catcher position. Omar Narvaez and Tom Murphy made for a dynamic catching duo, thanks in large part to their offensive production.
The duo combined to hit 40 home runs and produce a 5.0 fWAR, giving the Mariners the 4th highest fWAR at the position in 2019. Both Murphy and Narvaez have their flaws. Murphy is a good glove with above-average power but has swing and miss issues.
Narvaez is an above-average bat who takes walks, hits for a good average, has solid pop and has no strikeout issues. But his defense is, well let’s be kind and say it’s below average. They both are well liked by their pitching staffs and both earned the trust of the coaching staff in their first season with the club.
In addition, both are club controlled at least until after the 2022 season and both are in their athletic primes. Finding a good catcher in Major League Baseball is tough and somehow, Seattle has 2 (3 if you count Nola).
But 2020 looks to be another rebuilding season and thanks to the early signings of the top 2 free agents available (Yasmani Grandal and Travis d’Arnuad), quite a few teams will be looking for catching help without much impact available to them in free agency.
You can see where we are headed with this. With the most aggressive GM in the game, the Mariners may look to trade one of their catchers this winter and the expected return shouldn’t be anything to scoff at.
Whether Jerry Dipoto gets an offer worthy of discussion remains to be seen. Narvaez’s defensive limitations and concerns about the repeatability of Murphy may scare teams off. But with Cal Raleigh likely at least a full season away, Dipoto doesn’t need to rush out there and take a mediocre offer for one of his catchers.
Instead, he can sit back, play the market, and get a deal that he and his staff are comfortable with. The free-agent class just lost the 2 best bets at the position and finding a catcher with any skill at the plate is hard enough. But Seattle has two of them and by all accounts, they are open for business.