3 options for the Mariners to deal with their current Mitch Haniger problem

Mitch Haniger has been a bit of a problem defensively for the Mariners so far in 2024. What can the team do with him?
Seattle Mariners v Colorado Rockies
Seattle Mariners v Colorado Rockies / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages

I think I may have been more excited than most when the Mariners went and announced that they were re-acquiring Mitch Haniger via the trade that they made in the offseason with the Giants. He was one of my favorite players, in large part due to the article he put out about wanting to end the drought. It really showed the love that he had for this team.

Could he be the leader and veteran presence that this needed? Was he going to be able to stay healthy enough and impactful enough to make a postiive mark?

So far in 2024, it's been a bit of a mixed bag. He's doing well on offense, hitting .244/.309/.395 with a 109 OPS+. Positive on offense is what we want. That isn't the only side to it though, as you need someone out there who can play passable defense. Most years, it wouldn't be an issue if the Mariners had someone struggling in a corner OF spot, as you could just move them to DH.

However, that isn't an option this year, as the team has a full-time DH already in Mitch Garver. Garver is a different article all-together, so we will leave that be for now. It's Haniger that we want to talk about. What are the Mariners going to do with him?

Mitch Haniger Option 1: Deal with the bad defense as long as the offense slaps

If Haniger can keep hitting, I think this is going to be the way that most people deal with their feelings on the matter. "Yeah, he isn't playing good defense, but the offense makes up for it... enough". It's funny, because a big part of the reason that people were fine with watching Teoscar leave was the fact that he struggled in right and struck out a lot. Well, Haniger is sort of doing the same thing right now, struggling on defense and striking out 30% of the time or so.

If he can keep hitting, even picking it up a bit, then it's going to be good enough for the Mariners to keep him out in Right Field.

Mitch Haniger Option 2: Play him as a platoon/Part-Time

If the bat stays about as good as it's been, floating in that 105-110 OPS+ area, then moving Haniger to a part-time player might be the decision that has to be made. You can't be throwing a .8-1.0 WAR player out there on a regular basis. Give that time to someone who can hit decent enough but make up for it on defense, because it's going to be more valuable. It stinks, because we thought that a healthy Haniger was going to be one of the big sticks in this lineup, but time will tell if that pans out or not.

Mitch Haniger Option 3: Part-Time DH

Look, I'm not entertaining getting rid of Mitch, so it wasn't one of the options. If you do have some of the younger guys (Raley, Taylor, Clase, Canzone, even Moore) who can all play defense and hit well enough, then you are likely going to have to split DH time between Garver and Haniger. Just throw a Mitch out there every day and be good with it.

Garver needs to pick it up, and that's something that we will get into next week at some point with a look at his seasonal outlook going forward. But if things don't improve for Haniger's defense or with Garver's bat, then having them split time at DH might be the best way to go about it.