The Mariners have gotten better since the 2022 season ended. I know some people dispute this, but I’m going to strongly disagree with them. Adam Frazier struggled in 2022, but I see him improving and going back to his 2019 numbers, which seem to be about average for what to expect from him. With Haniger, we all know that he can dominate… when healthy. Unfortunately, that just isn’t something that we see enough of from him.
We’ve upgraded both of those positions with the additions of Kolten Wong and Teoscar Hernandez. If the Mariners want to be a true World Series contender, I think there are still some positions on the team that they could improve upon. Here are the 3 positions that the Mariners could look to upgrade at before the start of the 2023 season.
Side note – Most people say before Spring Training. When Dipoto and Hollander run your team, you change that to the start of the season as you never know when they might pull the trigger on a move.
Upgrade #1: Corner Outfield
We've got Teoscar Hernandez to play RF. However, we are looking at a combination of Jarred Kelenic, Taylor Trammell, Cooper Hummel, Sam Haggerty, and Dylan Moore to play LF. Are any of those players good enough? Can they handle, and produce, at a high enough rate for this team to get good numbers in LF? Acquiring someone like Bryan Reynolds seems to hold a special spot in many fans' minds, and that could be the answer from uncertainty to an All-Star level of production.
Personally, I think Kelenic has a good shot to take this spot and run with it, and will end up with a good 2023 season.
Upgrade #2: Designated Hitter
Sure, you could play Teoscar Hernandez here as well. However, that now means you have a hole in RF. For now, we are calling the DH spot the hole. Insert any of those five names listed above, and throw in Tom Murphy if you want, but the fact remains that the Mariners need production from this spot. Carlos Santana was fun at times last year, but limited power and a .200 BA are not what you want from the position that literally has "hitter" in its description.
Upgrade #3: The Bullpen
Maybe the answer is already staring at us in the form of the newly acquired Trevor Gott, or the recently re-acquired Casey Sadler. It could come from the minors in the form of Isaiah Campbell as well. After seeing Erik Swanson go in the Teoscar trade, the Mariners have lost one of their best three relievers. At least we won't see Swanson in high leverage playoff spots (sarcasm over sadness). They'll need someone to step in, and whether it comes via trade or in-house, one more guy in the pen is a must if they're going to try and go deep into October in 2023.
If the Mariners can find a way to shore up that last bullpen spot, see a good season from Kelenic, and end up with a real DH, they'll be nasty. So nasty in fact, that just doing those three things would put them alongside the Astros in the conversation for not just the AL West, but for the AL berth to the World Series.