Sometimes, it is tough to be a Mariners fan. And on just the second day of Spring Training, the team was dealt a blow.
After surgery to correct another core injury a few weeks back, Jeff Passan of ESPN is reporting that Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger had yet another surgery to repair a sports hernia. This was Haniger’s second core surgery in 3 weeks.
The exact time table for Haniger’s return is expected to be “significantly delayed” for the 2020 season. The Mariners were already preparing to be without Haniger for most, if not all, of April, but will now be without Haniger for much longer.
Seattle recently signed Carlos Gonzalez to a minor league deal and returning players Mallex Smith, Kyle Lewis, Braden Bishop, and Jake Fraley, are expected to compete for playing time this spring. The absence of Haniger will open a roster spot for one of them on more than a short-term basis.
Smith is the only lock to make the MLB roster, but GM Jerry Dipoto has consistently insisted that Kyle Lewis will be on the Opening Day roster. That insistence appears to be even more prophetic in the absence of Haniger.
Seattle may very well look outside the organization for outfield help, but their interest in remaining free agents is unknown. Names like Yasiel Puig, Melky Cabrera, Leonys Martin, Lonnie Chisenhall, Rajai Davis, Jacoby Ellsbury, and others. Dipoto may dip into the trade market for a short-term stopgap as well.
Haniger’s extended absence may kill any trade value he had remaining and should be expected to stick with Seattle through the 2020 season. Haniger missed 99 games last season after posting a .220/.314/.463 with 15 home runs in 63 games in 2019.
Seattle will likely need to bring in some outfield depth over the next few days, but will likely be forced to play much of their 2020 season without their best player.