One of the most refreshing things from an otherwise dismal end-of-year presser was Mariners' manager Scott Servais mentioning the need to bring in players with contact in their skillset. The team was second in baseball in strikeouts (1,603) and had four players in the top 25 in strikeouts.
Many times, the Mariners would have runners in scoring position only to succumb to their propensity to strikeout. According to ESPN, the team hit just .247 with runners in scoring position and struck out a league-leading 430 times in those situations. Those numbers don't add up for a group that pushes a "dominate the zone" philosophy. That is why Mariner brass have identified contact as a key 2024 offseason priority.
This free agent class is weaker than the past two years, including some stellar shortstops offering high contact ability (Correa, Turner, Swason). However, the cupboard isn't nearly as bare as some are making it out to be. Any of these free agents could provide value to a Mariner team that desperately needs to switch out some of its supporting cast to better align with the organizational model.
All of the above listed hitters strikeout below the MLB average (24%), offer different additional skillsets, such as postional flexibility (Bellinger, Canderlario), elite outfield defense (Kepler, Hoo-Lee), or just transform an entire lineup (Ohtani).
Dipoto mentioned that the team has already decided the direction they plan to take with Hernandez and the MLB Qualifying Offer but wouldn't divulge their stance. His comments seem to foreshadow the team's path this offseason and more importantly realization of a massive gap with the 2023 squad and putting the ball in play.