The Mariners rebuild is great, but what is it?
By Josh Maduell
The Mariners decision to rebuild was the right one. But there are still questions left to be answered.
After initially being against the trade of Omar Narvaez, it now seems like a good decision. His defense was too much of a liability and that will haunt you during the latter innings with men on. What will be missed was his 2.1 WAR, 22 homers, and .278 average. The Mariners hadn’t seen a first-string catcher hit that high since…Kenji Johjima in 2007. And before him, you have to trace back to Dan the Man in the early 2000s.
A backstop with power who hits for high average? That comes at a premium, folks. Especially when Mariner nation was still recuperating from Mike Zunino‘s low average. Yet once again, the defense is key and if your number one catcher can barely attempt a pickoff move towards any base, the concern is needed. Omar’s defensive struggles were the same as a fumble-prone football player. He’s talented but you just can’t afford his frequent sloppiness at the moment. Especially when you’re not the best scoring team.
Regarding Tom Murphy, he rightfully earned the role of incumbent Mariners catcher. His .275 average and 18 homers were right behind Omar’s. And his 2019 WAR actually surpassed Omar’s at 2.6. I only question this trade because it makes me question our team’s rebuild plan. It’s smart that Jerry Dipoto wants to fatten up the farm system. It’s already improved from 2018 and the junior M’s looked promising and exciting during the last months of the prior season.
But there are still inconsistencies within the plan. When veteran Alex Colome was traded for youthful Omar Narvaez, that deal looked like a rebuild deal. As in a rebuild deal where not only were we dumping a rental reliever but giving a good-hitting catcher for the long run.
Yes, Omar’s defense was a red flag. But management must have read his stats from the White Sox and were going to try and coach him up on that.
Coaching probably did the best they could yet it didn’t pan out. Then again, should you necessarily trade a player after only a year? It comes across as giving up on him too quickly without allowing a window for improvement.
With the Mariners’ luck, the Brewers will work with Omar in a certain, patient way that he will soon become a Gold Glover. Mariners’ management has a lot to prove with the judgment of player talent.
This is why this rebuild is the right move but what exactly is it? What’s the goal here aside from boosting the Minors? Is it going 100% with rookie call-ups or mostly rookie call-ups with barely any veteran holdovers? Will Dipoto keep Seager or shed his contract? Will he invest in Vogelbach at first or not? Is Mitch the future of this franchise or not?
There are some mixed-signal vibes going on here. At first, it sounded like Dipoto wanted Mitch for Opening Day and now there are rumors of him being shipped back to the desert where he came from? I want to support and follow this rebuild, I really do. It’s just unclear what it is and what direction it’s going in.