As a long-time Mariner fan who is used to heartache, this offseason was Tums-worthy. It all started in October with the unfamous 54% comments, followed by manager Scott Servais talking about the 'cards they were dealt,' and then the onslaught of salary dump trades. All of these events caused my X (formerly known as Twitter) perusing to become a daily exercise in using emotional intelligence.
Fortunately, it is a new day, and after a series of moves over the last month, which culminated with the blockbuster Jorge Polanco acquisition yesterday, we can look at a roster that is significantly better than last season.
2023 End of Season Lineup
2024 Projected Lineup
* = Offseason addition
It is time to give Jerry Dipoto and Justin Hollander their flowers. Those two executives were maligned in the media, took it like champs, and pressed on to curb strikeouts, create more position player depth, and shift salary. Check, check, check. The fact they were able to accomplish a complete overhaul of the lineup without doling out massive contracts to Cody Bellinger, Rhys Hoskins, and Jorge Soler (all names they were connected to) is a complete masterclass in 'doing what you can with the cards you were dealt.'
Dipoto waited out the market and was able to hang onto their young pitching, which is an accomplishment in itself. Adding four players who routinely produce above league average (100wRC+) without parting with Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo is remarkable and something they never really wanted to do in the first place. Another byproduct of their shuffling of the deck chairs is some of the best depth we've seen in years. Now guys like Dylan Moore and Sam Haggerty are true bench options and not depended on to play three to four times a week.
Are there still holes in the 26-man squad? Yes. For example, trading Isaiah Campbell and Justin Topa this offseason creates a large void in the sixth and seventh innings. Topa, specifically, played a huge role in solidifying the backend of the bullpen after the much-panned Paul Sewald trade. Will the Mariner's acclaimed pitching lab transform one of their numerous reliever acquisitions (Cody Bolton, Jackson Kowar, Carlos Vargas?) into the next Campbell and Topa? Are garlic fries on the T-Mobile Park menu? The answer is yes (for both).
A terrible end-of-season press conference, an ownership group that is risk averse, and most of the fanbase up in arms about trading away Jarred Kelenic made this offseason one giant landmine. Thankfully, Dipoto and Hollander sidestepped every single one, constructing a team that's arguably better than last year. It's time to give the dynamic duo in the Mariner front office their flowers. They've more than earned them.