Mariners Free Agent Target: Utility man Josh Harrison
Once the MLB lockout ends and the Mariners can sign free agents, one of the biggest needs they need to address is their infield. They have to keep adding there, and they are rumored to be in on players like Trevor Story and Kris Bryant. If they add those players, that is fantastic. They may still benefit from adding a backup player there for depth. Even if they miss out on those two players, signing someone for depth could help the M’s a lot, and Josh Harrison fits that role perfectly.
Josh Harrison is a journeyman utility infielder who would bring tremendous value to the Mariners roster. He is primarily a second baseman, but he can play shortstop, third base, left field, center field, and right field as well. He would be a similar player to Dylan Moore, but last year Dylan Moore was well below average and Harrison would be a big upgrade.
Below is a comparison from Fangraphs of Josh Harrison and Dylan Moore in 2021.
Josh Harrison: 138 games played, .279 batting average, .341 on base percentage, .400 slugging percentage, 103 wRC+, 1.5 WAR.
Dylan Moore: 126 games played, .181 batting average, .276 on base percentage, .334 slugging percentage, 74 wRC+, 0.2 WAR.
Based on this comparison, signing Josh Harrison makes all the sense in the world. The Mariners would have been a much better team last year with Harrison instead of Moore, so adding Harrison is an easy way to upgrade the roster. Along with a good batting average and solid on-base skills, Harrison also strikes out about 13% of the time, which was in the top 6% of MLB hitters last year. He doesn’t walk a ton, but that is because he is a contact hitter similar to Adam Frazier.
Having Josh Harrison as a right-handed bat in the second half of the Mariners lineup would add tremendous length. It would take so much pressure off of other players like Jarred Kelenic, Abraham Toro, and Luis Torrens. Harrison could add a veteran presence in the lineup, a player who will give quality at-bats, and be a strong veteran leader with playoff experience.
In addition to being a solid offensive player, Harrison is also a good defender as well. He was in the 92nd percentile in Outs Above Average. He is at least fringe-average at every spot he can play, but he is best defensively at second base. He could easily move around several spots for the Mariners, and he is someone who could come off the bench later in games. He has some speed but was only 9 for 14 (64.3%) on steals in 2021 (league average was 75.7%).
All in all, signing Josh Harrison to a one-year deal for a few million would be a very worthwhile deal for the Mariners. He signed for $1 million last year with the Nationals and got traded to the Athletics in July. He would be a super cheap player, who at 34 years old would be an under-the-radar addition, but one that would certainly improve the team and better the Mariners chances at making the playoffs.