Two of the Seattle Mariners’ most key offseason acquisitions, Adam Frazier and Eugenio Suarez, have been valuable pieces during the team’s hot start to the season. With top infield prospect Noelvi Marte schedule to make the big league roster by 2023, Frazier and Suarez could be competing with one another for a long-term spot in Seattle.
Frazier, a 30-year-old second baseman, hasn’t been stellar in the leadoff hole, but he seems to have the clutch gene: he has 10 RBIs (tied with Suarez for second on the team behind Ty France), and has come through with rally-sparking hits late in games on more than one occasion.
Suarez, a 30-year-old third baseman, has performed very well as Seattle’s cleanup hitter ever since Mitch Haniger went down with COVID: he’s hitting .271 (.902 OPS) with 3 home runs and 10 RBIs on the season, and leads the team with nine extra base hits. On the defensive end, he’s surprisingly looked above-average at the hot corner.
In the Mariners’ prospect depths, there are question marks in the infield; top prospect Noelvi Marte is certainly a promising piece to eventually contribute (possibly by next season), but beyond that, no infielders are anywhere close to making it up to Seattle for the foreseeable future. Marte, a 6’1″, 181 lb. “five-tool player” is a natural shortstop, but with JP Crawford under contract through 2026, it’s almost certain Marte will transition to either third or second base.
With Marte’s eventual arrival as a positionally-flexible infielder in mind, it appears Adam Frazier and Eugenio Suarez could be in direct competition for a long-term role with the Mariners. As the season drudges on, time will tell if Suarez can continue to prove his worth as a middle-of-the-order slugger and clean-fielding third baseman, or if Frazier’s on-base ability and multidimensional skills at the top of the order will be what Seattle craves moving forward.
In my eyes, Suarez seems to be the frontrunner at this juncture of the season; he crushes the fastball, has a history of massive power, and his positive personality has been a natural fit with the rest of the Mariners’ fun-loving position players. There’s no guarantee that Mitch Haniger will be in a Seattle uniform after this season, so retaining a middle-of-the-order bat could be a priority for the team as well.
While Frazier has had his clutch moments, he’s fairly pigeon-holed into his role as a contact hitter at the top of the order. However, if his .316 OBP doesn’t improve dramatically, Seattle likely won’t be overly inspired to offer an extension (Frazier’s contract ends after this season); Julio Rodriguez has the makings of a potential leadoff threat, JP Crawford can hit pretty much anywhere in the lineup, and Noelvi Marte has the tools to eventually succeed in that role.
In the competition for a long-term role on America’s Team between two newcomers, it looks like Advantage: Suarez 10% of the way through the season.