Seattle Mariners could be .500 team with these 5 moves

CLEVELAND, OHIO - MAY 04: Francisco Lindor #12 of the Cleveland Indians taunts Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Seattle Mariners after Encarnacion was called out at first on review to end the top of the sixth inning at Progressive Field on May 04, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - MAY 04: Francisco Lindor #12 of the Cleveland Indians taunts Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Seattle Mariners after Encarnacion was called out at first on review to end the top of the sixth inning at Progressive Field on May 04, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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5. Sign Edwin Encarnacion to a 1-year, $10 million deal

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – JUNE 06: Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Seattle Mariners hits an RBI single to score Dylan Moore #25 of the Seattle Mariners to tie the game 6-6 in the ninth inning against the Houston Astros during their game at T-Mobile Park on June 06, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – JUNE 06: Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Seattle Mariners hits an RBI single to score Dylan Moore #25 of the Seattle Mariners to tie the game 6-6 in the ninth inning against the Houston Astros during their game at T-Mobile Park on June 06, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Come on, who doesn’t miss the parrot? After looking at the market for a quality reliever to stabilize the bullpen, I came to the realization that there isn’t a perfect guy. A lot of the most stable arms are off the market and spending the rest of my budget on a few guys to add maybe one win total wasn’t that appealing.

So instead, I decided to add the remaining biggest weakness, 1B/DH. The real Mariners will use Evan White and Daniel Vogelbach at the two spots, and they’ll still do that here, just playing matchup with Encarnacion in the mix. Using 3 players for 2 spots isn’t ideal, but neither is having a complete unknown at 1B when trying to compete.

Signing E5 allows Seattle to remain patient with Evan White and gives them a viable bat if Vogelbach’s second-half nightmare returns. He raises the floor. Now the difference between White and Vogelbach to Encarnacion may not be huge, but every win counts and Encarnacion is a safe guy to bet on.

The added value depends on how the Mariners use the trio, but let’s estimate that Encarnacion is worth at least 1 win more than White and Vogelbach. With that in mind: here is where we end our experiment.

Our new starting lineup would look something like this:

  1. Mallex Smith CF
  2. Mitch Haniger RF
  3. Francisco Lindor SS
  4. Edwin Encarnacion 1B/DH
  5. Marcell Ozuna LF
  6. Kyle Seager 3B
  7. Tom Murphy C
  8. Vogelbach/White 1B/DH
  9. Shed Long 2B

The new rotation would be something like this:

  1. Marco Gonzalez
  2. Jon Gray
  3. Hyun-Jin Ryu
  4. Yusei Kikuchi
  5. Justus Sheffield

The bullpen remains largely the same, which isn’t great but there is some upside in the arms currently on the 40 man roster.

All in all, we traded away roughly 3.2 fWAR (Crawford 2.1, Dunn 1.0, Fraley 0.1), while bringing in a total of 16.9 fWAR, which nets us 13.7 WAR while spending nearly all of our $70 million budget. Adding the 13.7 WAR to our starting point of 68 wins lands us at 81.7 wins for 2020, and that is without any fall back from 2019 starters.

Overall, the roster laid out before you probably lands somewhere in between 75-87 wins in 2020 and costs you Kelenic, Crawford, Dunn, Fraley, and about $70 million and still likely leaves you with another 10 wins to find to compete for a wild card spot and very little money left to do it.

The fun thing about our experiment is that we can do it. It is possible (with a few liberties here and there) to take the current roster and turn it into a decent one in one winter. But it also proves that it isn’t wise.

Even by giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt on multiple fronts, the best we could do was a fringe .500 team with decent upside. So as much as we may crave it, there just isn’t a realistic path to go from bad to good in one winter, which is exactly why the Mariners are playing this well.

Perhaps a crazy winter is coming for Seattle and it may be as soon as one year from today. But the facts are pretty clear: the Mariners should stay the course and ignore the alternate route laid out in our alternate dimension.

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