The Seattle Mariners started to address their needs before the lockout started, but they need to add more offensive pieces to be better in 2022. Jerry Dipoto has talked about ideally being able to add a center fielder to keep Jarred Kelenic in left field and Mitch Haniger in right field. It will be hard to add a star center fielder, but one under the radar option is Garrett Hampson of the Colorado Rockies.
Garrett Hampson might just be the next Chris Taylor, a super utility man who can also play center field.
Hampson is not a pure center fielder, but he did play 91 of his 147 games in center last year. He would fit very well in Seattle with his defensive versatility since he can play second base in addition to the outfield. He not only has the ability to play these two spots, but he is a well above average center fielder. He was worth 7 Outs Above Average in center, and 2 at second base.
The next best tool Garrett Hampson has is his speed. He is one of the fastest players in baseball, with a sprint speed of 29.9 feet per second, which was good for 10th fastest in all of the Major Leagues last year. His speed is a big part of his game, and he could be a real base-stealing threat for the Mariners. He had 17 stolen bases last year, while the Mariners only had 64 as a team last year.
The main reason that the Mariners would trade for Garrett Hampson would be to play center field, but that might not be every day. He still has struggled offensively in his career so far and is now 27 years old. The upside here is that he is not a power hitter who relies on Coors Field. He is a contact hitter who, ideally, is an average first hitter, but he doesn’t make a ton of good solid contact.
The hope for Garrett Hampson is that the Mariners would be able to fix something with his swing, turning him into a better hitter. The Mariners have tried this with other players in the past such as Jake Bauers, Jake Fraley, and Dylan Moore. The thing about Hampson is that he already has had some success at the big league level and is a plus defender at an area of need. None of those other players could play center field at the level that Hampson does.
Another bonus for the Mariners with Garrett Hampson is that he is under control for the next three seasons, and they are his age 27-30 seasons. Those should be his best years and the Mariners should be one of the teams more poised to get the most out of Hampson. A trade package would not have to be too huge, either, and the Mariners have prospects that the Rockies would want to be a part of their future.
The return here for the Rockies is all about the future. They get Sam Carlson, who finally made it back after missing several years with injuries. Victor Labrada is a very young outfielder from Cuba that made his way to Everett last year. The pair both have upside that offer intrigue to the Rockies, who are not anywhere near as good as the Dodgers, Giants, or Padres and should covet prospects for the future.
Sam Carlson was one of the best high school right handers when he was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft. He had an electric fastball, but had to have Tommy John surgery in 2018. He finally came back this year and made 19 starts at Modesto, racking up 100 innings. He is 23 now, but now that he has some experience in the minors, he should be ready to make his climb through the minor leagues.
Victor Labrada is a contact, speed, and defense type of player. He had 32 steals in 99 games almost evenly split between Low A and High A. He is an exciting player to watch and has made some stellar defensive plays in the outfield, projecting as a center fielder going forward. He is going to turn 22 soon, so he could be ready for the big leagues in a few years if his bat continues to develop.
The Mariners would not need to part with any top of the system talent for Garrett Hampson, but Carlson and Labrada are both nice depth pieces in the middle tiers of their organization. The upside of landing Hampson is that the team just found their version of Chris Taylor, but he is more of a center fielder than a second baseman. If he can turn into an average offensive player, he would be a sure fire piece of the next playoff team in Seattle.