The Seattle Mariners have a large hole at second base to fill this offseason, and it has been considered one of the most important places to upgrade this winter. The Mariners have been linked to Marcus Semien, and have also been rumored to be in on some of the other big name shortstops to play second base. One of those players who has experience playing both second base and shortstop is the supremely talented Javier Baez.
Javier Baez is without a doubt one of the most talented middle infielders in all of baseball, and the Mariners could and should be in the sweepstakes for signing Baez. Baez is about to turn 29 years old, and his age fits into the Mariners’ window of contention. While Baez has his concerns and areas of struggle, the Mariners had tremendously below average play at second base for the entire year, except for Abraham Toro’s hot stretch after being acquired at the trade deadline.
There should be no concern for the Mariners about Baez playing second base. He came up at that position with the Cubs because they had Addison Russell playing shortstop, and he played second base last year when he got traded to the Mets because they already had Francisco Lindor at short. Jerry Dipoto has said that J.P. Crawford is not moving off of shortstop, so any free agent middle infielder would need to play second in Seattle.
The first thing that comes to mind when you think about Javier Baez is the flashy plays. Then the next thing is probably the strikeouts. That is the blessing and the curse with Baez; he makes highlight plays on defense and in the batters box, but he also swings and misses a lot. He has never had a strikeout rate lower than 24% in any single season.
The reason that some may say that Baez doesn’t fit on the Mariners is because he doesn’t align with the team’s philosophy of controlling the zone. However, outside of the strikeout problem, he hits the ball very hard. He had a hard hit rate of 45.2% in 2021 and has many red categories of his batted ball data on Baseball Savant. Baez also hit 31 home runs last year, so he would provide a lot of power for the Mariners lineup. Also, if the Mariners can help Baez control the zone a little more, he could become an even better player.
The Mariners should be willing to offer a fairly large contract to Baez if he is the player they decide to target. MLB Trade Rumors projected him to get a 5 year contract for $100 million, however, I think four years and $80 million would be a solid contract for both sides; Baez would get paid and could still go out on the market when he is 33 years old, while the Mariners would have an exciting and entertaining player who could be part of the next Mariners playoff team without taking up payroll for an extended period of time.