Could the Mariners look to the Far East this offseason?

There are a few intriguing players toiling in the Far East, who could help the Mariners take the next step in 2024.
World Baseball Classic Pool B: Korea v China
World Baseball Classic Pool B: Korea v China / Gene Wang/GettyImages
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Jung-Hoo Lee – Outfielder, Kiwoom Heroes (KBO)

This Mariner team might be in the upper third in runs scored per game (10th), but they have a kryptonite that opposing teams can exploit the strikeout. In the post-season, where swing-and-miss stuff is essential, strikeouts loom large. That’s why Mariner brass should take a shot at landing Korean superstar Jung-Hoo Lee. The 25-year-old outfielder is on the shelf with a fractured ankle, but that shouldn’t stop his stock from rising this offseason.

Since Lee debuted in 2017 as an 18-year-old, he’s displayed elite bat-to-ball skills, garnered more walks than strikeouts (383-304), and routinely used his 70-grade speed to notch doubles. His seven-year slash line is an astounding .340/.407/.898. Adding Lee to an already potent lineup would help mitigate the strikeouts and look awfully nice in the two-hole next to J.P. Crawford.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto – Pitcher, Orix Blue Wave, NPL

Pitching is the Mariner’s calling card and will probably continue to be so if Dipoto is in charge. With young hurlers Bryce Miller, Bryan Woo, Logan Gilbert, and Emerson Hancock in the system, there will be opportunities to leverage them for offense in the off-season trade market. Additionally, veteran southpaws Marco Gonzales and Robbie Ray will be back next season, effectively creating an embarrassment of riches on the mound. If the team decides to ship one of those starters out for offense, they could look to fill a rotation spot with the top pitcher in the NPL, Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

The 25-year-old righthander is a true ace for the Orix Blue Wave (Ichiro’s old team) and even fired a no-hitter in his most recent start.

Yamamoto has been on an incredible run over the past four years, going 62-20 with a 1.54 ERA, punching 708 tickets. Say Dipoto decides to send Logan Gilbert out for a haul to augment the offense, who would immediately be the second-best pitcher on the market. Yamamoto would fit nicely in the three spot in Seattle’s rotation. 

Other names to watch are starters Shota Imanaga and Naoyuki Uwasawa and relief aces Yuki Matsui and Kona Takahashi.