The Seattle Mariners are going to struggle in 2020. The AL West is getting better and the team is still rebuilding. But they could hang for a while with a few moves.
Now, let me be as clear about this as I can, right off the top: THE MARINERS SHOULD NOT GO THIS DIRECTION. THEY WILL NOT GO THIS DIRECTION. AND THEY ARE BETTER OFF FOR IT. Hopefully, the all caps text made that clear. This isn’t an article calling on GM Jerry Dipoto to completely change course.
No, I have no issues with the rebuild and have been one of its biggest supporters over the past year. But sometimes, in the dead of winter with rumors slowing to a trickle, you just want to have some fun and do a little experiment.
So our quest today is to find out exactly what it would take to get the 2020 Mariners to be a .500 team, or thereabouts. How much money would it take, what would the prospect cost be, and would it even be worth it? But before we can do that, we need a baseline.
Seattle won 68 games last year but obviously the rosters are going to be different and there are a thousand variables to figure out. For example, the Mariners were without their best player, Mitch Haniger, for 100 games. That hurts. But they also had Edwin Encarnacion for half the season, a luxury they wouldn’t have this year. And guys like Anthony Bass, Domingo Santana, and Omar Narvaez have left.
We also need to assume some regression for guys like Austin Nola and Tom Murphy. However, it is fair to expect growth from guys like J.P. Crawford, Yusei Kikuchi, and a healthy Haniger. With all these variables, let’s just begin our hypothetical exercise with the same win total they had last year.
Assuming this is a 68 win roster, that means we need to add at least 13 wins to finish .500. Since we aren’t retroactively beginning this exercise, all moves made by the Mariners are already official. We are still working with budget restrictions, giving ourselves roughly the same payroll the team had the last time they were competitive, which is about $170 million.
Currently, the Mariners are at around $100 million, giving us $70 million to play with. And those are our restrictions. Our only goal is to make the 2020 team as good as possible without blowing our budget. None of the moves you’re about to read make any sense in reality, which is why I have created this alternate reality.
With the understanding that this entire experiment is just for giggles, let’s get started turning the current Mariners roster into a 2020 contender.