Jerry Dipoto's winter adds are off to slow starts for the Mariners

Mariners' fans were hoping to see a fast start from the newest players added to the club this winter, but things haven't clicked yet for Mitch Garver and co.
John Stanton, Catie Griggs, Jerry Dipoto, Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners
John Stanton, Catie Griggs, Jerry Dipoto, Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

The Mariners' ownership put Jerry and Justin in a tough spot by severely limiting them financially this winter. Their payroll sits at $141.52M, and the estimate is there are a few million left in the budget. This is about $9M over the 2023 payroll, which is estimated at $132M by Spotrac. The main free agent add was Mitch Garver for 2 years/ $24M, formerly a catcher and middle-of-the-order bat for the defending champion Texas Rangers. However, Garver won't be catching much for the Mariners, as he's expected to play the role of an impact bat primarily in the DH slot. Mitch hasn't gotten off the tarmac yet, hitting .150 with only one dinger so far.

The biggest trade Jerry pulled the trigger on this past winter was Jorge Polanco, at least from a star power standpoint. Polanco wasn't expected to be a Gold Glove defender in Seattle, but he was expected to bring stability to a position that posted .205/.294/.313 production for the Mariners in 2023. Polanco hasn't been much better this season, hitting .169/.326/.286 in 95 plate appearances.

The other bat acquired via trade, Luke Raley, was brought over in exchange for the glove first Jose Caballero. Jose is off to a good start in his Tampa Bay career, while Raley has struggled to find his rhythm and consistent playing time. We don't want to seriously evaluate based on 40 plate appearances, but things have been really rough for Luke in the early going despite a few big hits recently.

Of course, high-leverage reliever Gregory Santos has a lat injury and is still probably a few weeks from a rehab assignment. He has yet to pitch for the Mariners yet, but he has nasty stuff and should be a permanent fixture in the pen once healthy. Recently acquired infielder Luis Urias has also been battling a shoulder injury, only appearing in five games so far this year.

Mitch Haniger started red hot, but he's only hitting .250/.302/.350 over the last two weeks. Still, I expect Mitch to have a solid year, if he's able to stay on the field. In fact, I liked the Santos trade and the Luis Urias comeback arc as well, but sometimes injuries control the narrative. I hope these guys are durable and prove the Mariner's front office to be effective.

Regarding the slow starts of guys like Polanco and Garver, my level of concern is similar with each player. I'm quite concerned about Garver since his advanced metrics are so porous (7.6% drop in barrel rate, 7.1% drop in hard-hit rate from 2023). Jorge has similar issues, with a 7.5% drop in barrel rate and an 8.3% drop in sweet spot rat. Both are accomplished veterans and have a good chance of bouncing back from this terrible month. It's also encouraging that the Mariners are 1st in the AL West despite poor performances from newcomers, and their superstar, Julio Rodriguez. How high can this club go once guys like Julio, Polanco, and Garver start seeing beach balls?