Seattle Mariners avoid arbitration, claim Haggerty on waivers

It was the busiest day for the Seattle Mariners in quite a while. Today they agreed to 2020 deals with 3 players and claimed a versatile speedster on waivers.

Entering today, the Seattle Mariners had just 3 players eligible for arbitration. By 10 AM, they had none. Seattle was able to get Sam Tuivailala, Mitch Haniger, and Mallex Smith under contract for the 2020 season, a good step in building goodwill towards the players.

Tuivailala will earn $800K in 2020, while Haniger is set to make just a hair over $3 million and Smith is set to earn $2.35 million this year. All 3 players are arbitration-eligible for the next 2 winters as well.

Avoiding arbitration disputes has been a hardline strategy for Seattle under GM Jerry Dipoto. During his regime, Seattle has never taken a player to the arbitration hearings phase of negotiations. The last Mariner to go through an arbitration hearing was Tom Wilhelmsen in 2014.

Typically, avoiding arbitration is a win-win. The team creates some goodwill by not haggling over a couple hundred thousand dollars and shows the player how eager they are to get a deal done. The player knows what his 2020 salary is and avoid the awkward arb hearing in which their employer gets to basically tear down the player in an attempt to save what usually amounts to the price of a happy meal (relatively speaking).

But Seattle wasn’t done for the day. In their first 40-man roster transaction since mid-December, Seattle claimed Sam Haggerty off waivers from the Mets. A 26-year-old, switch-hitting utility man, Haggerty spent most of the past two years in the high minors, working his way towards the majors.

He did make his MLB debut last September, appearing in 11 games and getting 4 ABs without recording a hit. Primarily a second baseman, Haggerty has experience all around the field, including in the outfield.

At the plate, Haggerty will take his walks but possess little to no game power currently. He is a good base-runner with plus speed, stealing 113 bases on 139 attempts in 409 games in the minors. He may remind some fans of Shawn O’Malley.

Haggerty will get a chance to battle for a roster spot with other utility options like Dylan Moore and Tim Lopes but will have a hard time making the club. He may not even survive the off-season on the 40-man roster.

Next: Haniger, Twins a trade fit?

It has been a slow month for the Mariners but we are slowly inching our way to spring training. Seattle will need to make more moves before then, specifically to their starting rotation. Hopefully, we will see some of those transactions soon.