While the offseason started off slow for the Mariners, the last week or so has been fun and exciting. FIrst, The M's traded LHP Robbie Ray to the San Francisco Giants for our beloved OF Mitch Haniger and RHP Anthony DeSclafani. Minutes later, The Mariners traded INF Jose Caballero to the Tampa Bay Rays for OF/1B Luke Raley. With new additions Haniger and Raley to go along with Julio Rodriguez and Dominic Canzone, the Mariners sem to be set in the outfield. But, are they done acquiring outfielders?
Enter the Boston Red Sox. Red Sox fans are about as upset with their ownership as any fanbase in baseball, outside of Las Veg... I mean Oakland. The Sox seem to be operating like a small market team nowadays, compared to the big spending team we are used to seeing over the past 2 decades. Apparently, the Fenway group is fine clinging on to their three World Series Championships over that span, and want to maximize profits.
The writing may have been on the wall for the Red Sox for some time now. Remember when they traded Mookie Betts before the 2020 season? And before the 2023 season, they let Xander Bogaerts walk in free agency. Two cornerstone players left and all the Sox had to show for it was Alex Verdugo, who they traded this offseason to the New York Yankees. The Sox also traded their best pitcher, Chris Sale, to the Atlanta Braves in a cost saving deal. They did bring in Lucas Giolito in free agency, but that has been the only net gain for the team so far.
This is where the Mariners come in. Could they trade for Masataka Yoshida, the Red Sox starting left fielder? According to Ken Rosenthal from The Athletic, The Red Sox are fielding offers for the Japanese star outfielder. Yoshida still has $72,000,000 due to him over the next 4 seasons ($18,000,000 AAV). $18M may be too high a price for the Mariners, but according to MLB Trade Rumors, the Red Sox may include cash considerations in a Yoshida move.
Yoshida transitioned well in his rookie campaign. He hit .289/.338/.445/.783 with an OPS+ of 109 in 537 at bats. He hit 15 home runs, drove in 72 and stole 8 bases. Yoshida would fit right in the Mariners new philosophy of cutting down the strike outs. He struck out in just 14% of his at bats, while walking in just 5.9%. He only put together 0.6 fWAR in 2023, and his defence was a huge factor in that. He only commited 3 errors, good for a .977 fielding percentage. But his -4 Defensive Runs Saved and his -7 Runs Above Average really show that he is limited defensively. So, what would Yoshida cost the Mariners?
Seattle sends RHP Emerson Hancock and INF Dylan Moore to the Red Sox for OF Masataka Yoshida and cash considerations (About $20M).
Is this too high of a price for the Mariners? Maybe. Hancock showed that he was Major League-ready in 2023, but a shoulder injury ended his season prematurely. Dylan Moore is owed over $6.6M over the next two seasons, so taking his salary and the $20M I have the Red Sox sending with Yoshida, the Mariners would only owe Yoshida $45.4M. Who knows? $45.4M may be out of the cards for the them at this point.
For the Sox, they get a young, cost controlled pitcher with some prospect pedegree that the Mariners do not have room for. Emerson Hancock was the 6th overall pick in the 2020 draft, and he pitched well for the Mariners in 2023. The Sox need pitching in the worst way, and this would get them a solid arm while shedding some major salary. Dylan Moore could give the Sox some much needed depth in the infield.
Sure, the Mariners have Mitch Garver in the DH spot tied up, along with Mitch Haniger in the outfield. The problem is, both of those guys have shown that they cannot stay healthy over 162 games. Yoshida would bring some much needed stability at the corner outfield spot, spelling both Luke Raley and Mitch Haniger, while giving Mitch Garver the occasional day off at DH. This would be a luxury-type move for the Mariners, one that they do not have to make, but this move would definitely make the Mariners better entering the 2024 season. As always, Go Mariners!