Mariners 2023/24 FA Rankings: #1-2
#2: Cody Bellinger, OF Chicago Cubs, $22.5 AAV
The former rookie of the year and NL MVP has had quite the rebirth of his career after signing a one-year deal with Chicago and nearly carrying them to the World Series. Belli is an elite center fielder who just slashed .307/.356/.525 in 130 games, while becoming overnight one of the best contact hitters in the game.
Bellinger brings questions about fit, and debate about whether he's fully turned the corner, but I believe that corner has been turned and the best is yet to come for the ultra-talented 28-year-old. If he came to Seattle, he'd likely become the best right fielder in the game, and the park is suited for his combination of speed and power to be the star left-handed bat this franchise needs. A trio of JP Crawford, Julio Rodriguez, and Cody Bellinger paired with an elite pitching staff is a true World Series contender.
#1: Shohei Ohtani, DH/SP LA Angels
The man, the myth, the legend. The one that got away from Dipoto in 2018 is now in the market yet again. We saw the reception he received at the All-Star game, and the comments he made about Seattle after. As much of a disappointment as this season has been, I do still believe that the Mariners will find themselves in a position to sign Ohtani. The Dodgers are heavy favorites, but West Coast teams like Seattle and San Francisco shouldn't be thought of as not having a chance.
Seattle would have to figure out a way to bring another impact player to Seattle, before they even get to the Ohtani meeting, as a way of showing they're committed. You also have to be prepared to move on quickly if you sense your fading, or risk missing out on potential other free agents.
Signing Ohtani is not without risk, he won't even pitch in 2024 and you're probably still gonna have to pay him close to $600 million to come to Seattle. It's a great undertaking, but it'd also change this franchise forever, and in a good way I believe.
I don't believe Seattle will bring Ohtani to the Pacific Northwest, but if they pulled it off, you can make a strong case that the Mariners could be the best team in all of baseball.