We all knew this off-season was going to be different for the Seattle Mariners. GM Jerry Dipoto said as much. But things may have gone just a little too far… or not far enough?
The Seattle Mariners have been quiet this winter. Not just when being compared to Dipoto led franchises in past off-seasons, but actually quiet. The team made 2 roster moves in December; trading Omar Narvaez to Milwaukee and selecting a reliever in the Rule 5 Draft who has about a 10% chance of sticking with the club.
And if not for a flurry of minor moves around Thanksgiving, the team has basically been sitting on their hands, at least publicly. Of course, the team is undoubtedly involved in numerous free agents and trade talks, but even these rumors are few and far between.
And as we approach Spring Training, now just 6 weeks away, the biggest acquisition this winter has been signing Kendall Graveman to a 1-year deal with a team option. Nobody should be expecting the Mariners to go out and spend big on the Nolan Arenado or Kris Bryant market either, but the lack of moves is beginning to become a problem.
The Mariners want to give their young guys a chance to play and there is nothing wrong with that strategy, unless you’re pushing players before they are ready. The Mariners gave Evan White a 6-year, MLB deal to assume he will be the starting first baseman on Opening Day. But what if he needs time in AAA?
As of right now, the Mariners only have 4 starting pitching slots filled. And with the injury history of Graveman, they are one injury away from being in serious trouble. If the season started tomorrow, Justin Dunn would likely be the #5 starter, despite showing no real signs that he is ready for such a role.
Dipoto has stated a few times that he thinks Kyle Lewis will be on the Opening Day roster. We all love Kyle Lewis and his 6 home runs in September were a lot of fun, but he struck out nearly 40% of the time and only drew 3 walks all month. Lewis probably isn’t ready to handle 140+ games against big-league pitching.
The Mariners’ inactivity this winter is putting a lot of pressure on their prospects and young Major Leaguers to not only survive a full season of MLB but to actually thrive. Seattle is pushing its floor down without building in any safety nets along the way.
Now, they still have plenty of time to help fix these areas. We know they are looking at pitching help as well. But even the minor league free agents with invites to Spring Training have been lacking and Seattle needs to act.
Letting your young kids play in the big leagues is fine. Making them do it and work through it before they are ready? That is not fine. Seattle is playing a dangerous game as their roster stands right now. And if they don’t make a handful of quality additions soon, their stated goal of contention by 2021 will be nothing more than a hollow lie.