The Mariners are beginning this offseason with needs for greater offensive production. This season, the Mariners slashed .226/.303/.385 and had a wRC+ of 93 as a team. Their offensive numbers as a whole are not good enough for the team to compete for a Wild Card spot in 2022, so they will need to add players at multiple positions to improve.
The Mariners enter the upcoming offseason as a team coming off of a 90 win season and now are poised to make a real run at high end players to help fill some holes on the team.
Some spots the Mariners need to fill are third base with the expected departure of Kyle Seager, and another outfielder with uncertainty about Kyle Lewis’ health. Jerry Dipoto, in his recent media session with Manager Scott Servais, made some comments about Kyle Lewis and his knee:
"“I think we have to go into next season planning on whatever Kyle is able to deliver is a bonus for us.”"
This tells us that the Mariners will not hesitate to go out and get another outfielder, and perhaps even a centerfielder. The Mariners could roll with Jarred Kelenic in center as he showed improvement in the last month of the season, however, Kelenic is still very young and could benefit from some defensive pressure being taken off of him in center field.
There is one team that was a big disappointment in 2021 that had rumors buzzing around them about trading their often injured star centerfielder; he could be a fit in Seattle, along with a veteran third baseman, in the middle of the Mariners lineup.
The Minnesota Twins were one of the most disappointing teams last year after being projected by many to win the A.L. Central. They went on to lose 89 games and sold off ace Jose Berrios at the trade deadline. As the Twins look to rebuild, the Mariners could be a team to trade for some established players in exchange for minor league talent
The Twins were rumored to be in the market to trade Byron Buxton after he reportedly refused a contract extension. He only has one year left on his contract but could be an extension candidate with the Mariners if he can stay healthy.
Buxton would give the Mariners a star centerfielder and would give Kyle Lewis as much time as he needs to get back and give Jarred Kelenic an easier time in left field with Buxton patrolling center field. Buxton is one of the best players in baseball when he is healthy and can give the Mariners another potential star player in the outfield after posting a 171 OPS+ and a 4.5 WAR in only 61 games in 2021.
The Mariners could also acquire third baseman Josh Donaldson, who has the end of his contract coming up. He is owed $21 million in 2022 and 2023, with a $16 million team option in 2024. The two guaranteed years are for his age 36 and 37 seasons and he still is a good offensive player who posted a 127 OPS+ and 3.2 WAR. Seattle also would not have to give up a lot of top-end prospect talent since Donaldson is a little expensive.
The Mariners would try to make this trade without giving up too much in terms of prospects, however, in order to get a player like Buxton, the Mariners will have to part ways with at least Emerson Hancock. The Twins would do this deal because they get a future starting pitcher in Hancock and a young outfielder in Taylor Trammell who still could improve as he is only 24. Juan Then could be a hard-throwing bullpen option if he doesn’t work out as a starter.
The Mariners would have a deeper lineup with two more right-handed bats (to help hit lefties better than they did in 2021), and they have much more potential as a team if Donaldson and Buxton have big seasons. They would have to give up a few good young prospects in Hancock, Then, and Trammell, but they would strongly better their team for 2022 and 2023.