We continue to try and work our way through the questions you, fans of the Seattle Mariners, sent us last week to try and better understand what is going through your minds in quarantine.
This has been a fun series for us to tackle. Understanding what is important to fans of the Mariners has helped us stay connected in a period in which we must literally separate from one another. But today, we actually have four questions on two topics sent to us by @carywilliams79 on Twitter:
So there is quite a bit to unpack here, so let’s answer this one question at a time. What do I believe the plans are for Mitch Haniger long-term? I still believe that the Mariners view the optimal strategy is to trade Haniger for their asking price. So if there is a 2020 season and Haniger bounces back to his 2018 self, expect them to attempt to trade him again this winter.
If Haniger doesn’t make it all the way back, I think he starts 2021 with Seattle. They still like Haniger and they don’t need to trade him for a drastic discount. After all, he won’t be a free agent until after the 2022 season.
I wouldn’t rule out an extension, but I think it isn’t as likely that Haniger is traded or just leaves Seattle after his 6-years are up. Remember, it takes two to tango on an extension and we haven’t heard much to make us think that Haniger is interested in an extension at this time. Just like it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Mariners to trade Haniger at his lowest value, it may not make sense for Mitch to sign an extension at his lowest value.
I think if the Mariners can get 90% of what they wanted for Haniger, the best move is to trade him. An extension would be great too, assuming the team protects itself from the potential of Haniger’s back becoming a serious issue. Seattle has said many times it sees Haniger as part of the future but we also know they’ll listen to offers on anybody.
Now, as for Taijuan Walker, will his ERA be above or below 4.50 in 2020, and why? I’ll take the under but don’t feel great about it. The delay for Walker could save some bullets and give him a chance to work his rehab even longer and could strengthen his arm. Or it could more or less push back his progress thanks to the long layoff.
Even young Walker never posted an ERA over 4.56 and the stuff is still good enough to beat out that projection. Overall, Taijuan Walker was one of the most exciting things about the 2020 Mariners. But now with Logan Gilbert and Justin Dunn not likely to need much workload management, I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that Walker is out of the rotation in the first 30 games.
I still like Walker and could see him pitching himself into a long-term role with the Mariners. But until we see him against real MLB lineups, I’ll remain hesitant to believe he will be as good as he was in 2017. Thanks for the questions @carywilliams79!