I've always been intrigued by Garrett Cooper. He isn't a massive name, but has always provided a decent bat, albeit with suspect defense. The Mariners need to add a bat that can play DH and first base. Dipoto hasn't spent money on hitting in the past, so could they look to Cooper to potentially sign as a low-ceiling, but low-cost option to bolster the lineup?
The Mariners should offer Garrett Cooper a 1YR deal to get him to Seattle
I think it's a smart option, but it can't be the only move. It would be like a poor man's version of Brandon Belt type deal. Honestly, you could offer the same deal that they gave AJ Pollock last season (1YR/$7M) and it's not like he could do any worse than Pollock did.
What does Cooper bring? He wasn't great in 2023, so maybe it is the start of a decline for someone who will be 33. I think a one-year deal is worth it to see if you can get some of that 2019-2022 production, when he averaged a slash line of .274/.350/.444 and OPS+ of 115. His K rate sits around 25%, but he has a decent walk rate. Not a big power bat, but can hit doubles. I'd take that as one of the "worst" bats in the lineups for sure.
Here's the thought process that gets me here. The Mariners go out, and for once, spend money on a hitter. Whether it's Jung Hoo Lee, Lourdes Gurriel Jr, or someone else in that ~$15M AAV range, they have to add a legit bat to add to the roster. Then, you get Cooper as a secondary (or hopefully tertiary) piece. Maybe it looks something like this. I've added their OPS+ to the list as well.
SS - JP Crawford - 131
CF - Julio Rodriguez - 128
RF - Lourdes Gurriel Jr - 108
C - Cal Raleigh - 112
DH - Garrett Cooper - 102
LF - Jarred Kelenic - 109
3B - Eugenio Suarez - 101
1B - Ty France - 99
2B - Jose Caballero/Josh Rojas - 90/103
Is that what a World Series winning lineup looks like? I don't know. I want it to, but I just don't know if it does it. Move 5-8 around however you want, but that's what I inserted for now. Gurriel had a bit of a down year, but he could easily fall back into the 110-120 range he had been in for the last 4-5 years. If we can get the Cooper who posted back-to-back years of 127 and 128, that turns into a nice weapon in the 5-hole. France... well, hopefully, he can hit again or else they might look to replace him. I still believe in you, Ty!
I think Cooper would be a great tertiary addition to the team. A solid bat that can play some DH and 1B, really solidifying the depth of the lineup. It can't be the only thing they do, and I don't even think it can just be the second thing they do. Looking at that lineup, you either need jumps from Geno or France back into that 125 OPS+ range (both have done it multiple times) or another bat.
The Mariners cannot go into the season hoping for better seasons from a handful of hitters to get to the production they need. Spend the money, and give the potential for a dangerous lineup, not just a great one if things go right. Maybe, just maybe, adding Garrett Cooper to be one of your "worst" hitters is a step in the right direction.