The Mariners are going to need to add someone to their outfield this season. Shoot, they might even look to add two outfielders if Teoscar Hernandez ends up going somewhere else. We all know that Julio is the face of the franchise, and should be here through this decade and possibly next. It's the corner spots that we need to look at, and getting two legit MLB players might be an option to help alongside Julio and Kelenic.
MLB Trade Rumors and SI recently talked about the Mariners possibly finding an answer in the outfield from the Boston Red Sox for Alex Verdugo. The Sox have a relative logjam with Jarren Duran, Wilyer Abreu, Masataka Yoshida, Rob Refsnyder, Ceddanne Rafaela, and Alex Verdugo. With Verdugo entering Arb 3 and becoming a free agent after the 2024 season, could he be another rental for the Mariners to go out and acquire?
Could (or should) the Mariners trade for Alex Verdugo?
Set to make around $9-10M in arbitration this season, Verdugo would fit a role similar to what Teo did last season, albeit as a different skill set. A corner outfielder, MLB vet, 2-3 WAR value. However, Verdugo has played average to above-average defense, and adding his defense to the outfield could offset any potential move, if it happens, at third base if they go in a more offensive-minded direction over Geno.
Verdugo has been very consistent on offense over the last five seasons, posting oWAR numbers of 1.9, 1.4, 2.2, 1.7, 1.7, while hitting .283/.338/.432 with an OPS+ of 106 over that stretch. He's going to give you a handful of steals, homers in the low teens, and somewhere around 30 2Bs. More importantly for Mariners fans, he rarely strikes out, posting a 15.1% K rate over the last 5 seasons.
The biggest question, as it always comes down to, is what would it take to get Verdugo from the Sox? He is a rental, and I think it's more likely that Boston lets him leave after this season as opposed to keeping him around for something in between the Benintendi deal and the Castellanos deal ($15-20M a year).
Well, Boston is still looking to compete, so sending them minor leaguers who are a ways off are unlikely to get the job done. At the same time, the Mariners aren't going to send them any of their youth pitching (Miller or Woo), since the controllability and positional scarcity make them immensely more valuable than Verdugo in the grand scheme of things.
Could this be even more reminiscient to the Teo trade by looking at a similar makeup of a trade to what they sent Toronto? Maybe... something like this?
Mariners send RP Gabe Speier and RHP Michael Morales
Boston Red Sox send OF Alex Verdugo
Boston ranked 20th in bullpen ERA last season, with an ERA of 4.32, WHIP of 1.39, and BAA of .259. Speier would be an immediate upgrade with his line of 3.79 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 1.061 WHIP, and BAA of .235. Then, you send a prospect, maybe someone like Michael Morales who is still a few years away.
Do i love this move? No, not really. The Mariners have already traded away Swanson and Sewald in the last 12 months, and this would be another move to weaken a great, but thin, sector of the Mariners. I think if they can meet two other conditions, then I could get behind something like this. First, you sign 1-2 bullpen pieces. Lopez, Moore, guys like that. Ones who aren't crazy expensive, but could possibly be had for $10-12 million combined each season.
Secondly, and more importantly, you CANNOT let this be the biggest bat that you acquire this offseason. There has to be a bigger move. Whether it's as big as Ohtani, or something lesser but still a worthwhile addition, it has to happen. Otherwise, the lineup doesn't look any better, and fans will not be happy with the team.
However, if you sign 1-2 bullpen guys and get a big bat for the team? Then, yeah, this type of move would be something that I could get behind. Maybe you even get a nice "contract year" out of Verdugo. If that's the case, then I think this could be a good move for the Mariners.