Seattle Mariners FA Target: Addressing Middle Infield with Xander Bogaerts
By Trevor Pedro
There’s been a lot of conversations about how the Seattle Mariners can boost the offense. Many media outlets are gravitating to what seems like a star-studded shortstop class, which includes Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson, Trea Turner, and Xander Bogaerts. Each player brings unique skillsets to a team in need of a batting average boost from the middle infield.
President of Baseball Operations, Jerry Dipoto recently joined Brock and Salk on 710 Seattle Sports to address the opportunity the upcoming free agent period presents.
"“We would like to strike out less, we’d like to walk more, we’d like to raise our batting average – there’s a variety of different statistical goals that you can look to achieve by acquiring a player who does those things well. But more importantly, you’re trying to find the 26 guys that have what this team – the 2022 Mariners – had.”"
It is interesting to see such an analytically driven organization specifically mention batting average as an area of team improvement. But the fact is they might just have to address an old-school metric to start closing the gap with the Astros. Each of those four all-stars would help Manager Scott Servais improve the batting average of the starting nine. We will write about all of them this offseason, but we start with Xander Bogaerts.
One Mariners FA option is Xander Bogaerts
Free Agent Shortstops – 2022 Seasons (Batting Average On-Base Percentage)
It is easy to look at the above list and just go with the player with the highest average, but Bogaerts offers a few more positives. For example, Mariners leadership has gone on record that they still might prefer J.P. Crawford to hold down the shortstop spot in 2023. If Crawford stays at shortstop, you’d have to think there would only be two free agents on this list willing to slide over to the keystone (Bogaerts and Swanson). Additionally, the former could slide over to the third base later in the multi-year contract.
Financially speaking, Correa and Turner will more than likely command average annual values north of $35M. This team needs more than one bat and doling out the entire bag for one specific player doesn’t fill the various holes in the lineup. You’d have to think Dipoto and Justin Hollander are in the same mindset. According to SPOTRAC, Bogaerts’ current contract has an AAV of $20M. After he opts out, which more pendants believe is a formality he should be able to command a slot below the top two shortstops. My guess? Probably around $28 – $30 million per year.
One of the best things about this move is Bogaerts bat-to-ball skills and a natural fit for the two-hole in this lineup. By penciling in the middle of the order of Xander, Julio, and Ty France creates a trio of high average, high on-base percentage pocket. Yes, they are all right-handed, but each of these three are known to use the entire field, which helps eliminate the pitching handedness. Plus, having Bogaerts on base for Julio will obviously create more RBI situations for your best run-producer.
Sliding back to the issue at hand, batting average and on-base percentage and the Mariner’s quest to improve those aspects of the lineup. Xander Bogaerts would’ve led the Mariners in both categories in 2022. Think about that for a minute. Then picture a Mariner lineup that rolls out the middle of the order that lines up; Bogaerts, Julio, France, Raleigh. That doesn’t even account for Eugenio Suarez, Crawford, and hopefully a resurgent walk-year Jesse Winker. Making a run at Bogaerts sounds like a great way to tackle the volatility of the 2022 Mariner’s lineup.