We have talked all offseason about how the Mariners need to upgrade their offense. The other spot that we have spent some time on is the reliever position. The Mariners have traditionally not spent on relievers in years past, trusting their ability to find under-the-radar guys to develop into solid guys in the pen. But who knows? Maybe this is the year that they buck that trend and sign a guy to step in with Brash, Munoz, and Topa, especially after losing Sewald, and to a lesser extent, Isaiah Campbell. Afterall, as of right now, the last reliever on the depth chart would be Prelander Berroa and while the upside is high, there just isn't enough of a track record to trust that.
We have looked at 3 underrated relievers the Mariners should target, we took a poll to see what reliever Mariners fans wanted most, even higher-end relievers like Reynaldo Lopez. One guy we haven't really spoken much about is Andrew Chafin. After a down year in 2023, could he be primed for a bounce-back year? Does his fit and role make sense in Seattle? Look at this guy... who wouldn't want that dude on their roster?
Ultimately, I think the Mariners need to shoot higher than Chafin or trust their development and analytics department to find the next surprising bullpen stud.
Chafin was actually one of the more underrated relievers for the better part of 5 or 6 years, outside of a weird 2020. But he really regressed in 2023. His ERA shot up from 2.83 in 2022 to 4.73. His strikeout rate was the highest it's been in 3 or 4 years, but he walked more than 1 more batter per 9 than his career average.
His fastball and sinker got absolutely destroyed while his slider was borderline elite, yet he relied on the fastball and sinker 64.1% of the time, only throwing the slider 35.1% of the time. I could see his numbers improving with some shifting of pitch usage here, which the Mariners are good at, but how confident are you that a 34-year-old who has had command issues in the past will be able to successfully do that?
The other issue here is the contract. Where the Mariners have found under the radar type relievers that cost the major league minimum, Chafin is going to command more than that, on name and previous performances alone. Chafin signed a 1 year $6.5 million dollar contract with the Diamondbacks for the 2023 season with an option for 2024, that the Brewers didn't pick up. Spotrac has his market value at a 1 year $3.5 million dollar contract and I just don't think he is worth the risk.
You have a solid bullpen; I just think that you need to target more high-end relievers like Reynaldo Lopez or maybe Matt Moore. If you don't want to spend on one of those guys, I think you are better off just sticking to your ways of trying to find the Justin Topa, Gabe Speier type relievers of the world to round out your depth.