Can Sam Travis become an impact player for the Seattle Mariners?

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 05: Sam Travis of the Red Sox hits a home run. He is now a member of the Seattle Mariners. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 05: Sam Travis of the Red Sox hits a home run. He is now a member of the Seattle Mariners. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
Sam Travis of the Red Sox in action. He is a Seattle Mariners player now.
BOSTON, MA – JULY 16: Sam Travis of the Red Sox looks up to Aaron Judge. He is a Seattle Mariners player now. (Photo by Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

The Seattle Mariners signed Sam Travis to a minor league deal, can he make an impact?

At the beginning of the month, the Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto went to work and signed Sam Travis to a minor league deal. The offseason has been slow thus far for the Mariners and that is sort of expected. The team is turning its focus towards 2021 and beyond, so the acquisition of Travis is an attempt to catch lightning in a bottle.

The newly acquired Seattle Mariners player is 27 years old and is considered a first baseman and outfielder. Travis played for the Red Sox from 2017 to 2019, and was designated for assignment at the beginning of the year. After being outrighted, the Red Sox traded Sam Travis to the Texas Rangers. He was released in September after not playing a single game MLB game for the 2020 Rangers.

Travis does not have a good track record in the big leagues and owns a career .230 batting average. He also holds a career -1.3 WAR. So you may be wondering why Jerry Dipoto even signed him to a minor-league deal? The fact is, once upon a time, Sam Travis was a shining prospect in the Red Sox organization.

Sam Travis was selected by the Red Sox in 2014 as the 67th overall pick (2nd round) out of Indiana University. He was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2012 after hitting .319 with nine home runs. And in his sophomore season, he produced similar numbers by batting .316, hitting 10 home runs. Finally, in his junior season before being drafted, he batted .346 with 12 home runs.

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So just by looking at those numbers, you should be able to tell that he was a solid college baseball player. According to a 2014 Bleacher Report article, he had a good feel for hitting, a good mix of bat speed and strength, plus power potential, but is limited on the defensive side of things. One player comparison I saw was former Seattle Mariners DH Edwin Encarnacion. After joining the Red Sox organization, he immediately produced in the farm system. He has an impressive .285 minor league career batting average, hit 43 home runs, 251 RBIs over 492 games.

At one point, Travis was the 5th ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization in 2018. But, Travis dealt with all kinds of injuries which might have slowed his development of becoming an MLB ready player. The Red Sox kept him around and gave him a chance from 2017-2019, but it was not enough for Boston’s high expectations.

With all of that being said, there really is no guarantee of what Sam Travis will produce, or if he will remain in the Mariners organization for much longer. To me, this just seems like another smart stash move by Jerry Dipoto. When Ryan Rowland-Smith joined us on the Sodo Mojo and Fresh out of College podcast, he talked about Jerry Dipoto bringing in some young players with the hope of helping in the future, which is exactly what the Sam Travis signing is.

He is another low risk, with high potential kind of opportunity just like David Dahl (who unfortunately signed with the Rangers recently). Travis is still relatively young and has a chance to change the path of his career. He is taking the “bust” track right now, but you never know what can happen with a change in scenery, especially since he was in a very tough city to play in.

If fully healthy, the Seattle Mariners might get lucky and witness a different Sam Travis that the Red Sox and Rangers did not get. If you are a Mariners fan, keep your expectations low but I like Travis’s potential to become a slugger.

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