Tier 1: The Locks
Despite what looks like a sophomore slump, centerfielder Julio Rodriguez is still the face of the franchise. Ownership committed significant dollars to the 22-year-old, inking a contract that could extend to 17 years and $420 million. Despite the rough season, Rodriguez is the team's North Star and should continue to be the big draw for fans and, hopefully, free agents.
Backstop Cal Raleigh is forever itched in Mariner history, and rightfully so. He played most of last season with his thumb held together by tape and glue, provided leadership behind the plate, and authored a truly fabulous campaign offensively and defensively (4.2 WAR). Four-win catchers don't grow on trees, and the catching depth in the system is far from impacting the big-league club.
Righthanders George Kirby and Logan Gilbert are locked in as leaders of the pitching staff. They were battle tested and instrumental in the team's playoff drought-busting 2022 season. While both starters go about their business differently, they have similar intangibles that bode well for lasting success. One similar trait is their willingness to learn and expand their games, as both pitchers came to Peoria with new pitches in their repertoire.
If you asked me this question last year, I would omit Jarred Kelenic. He always had the talent, but his approach and mentals kept him down. The 23-year-old outfielder came to Peoria with a new approach and outlook on handling success and failure. The result? He carried this team for the first seven weeks of the season and continues to be one of two Mariners not to suffer regression. Put, Kelenic's name in the lineup card in pen. He's arrived.