Mariners' Future Takes Shape: Will Smith's Mega-Deal Sets Stage for Seattle's Next Big Move

Dodgers' all-star catcher Will Smith's recent extension might provide some insight into what a long-term deal for the Mariners own backstop could look like.
Texas Rangers v Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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ESPN's Jeff Passan dropped an interesting nugget this afternoon when he announced that the Los Angeles Dodgers have signed their All-Star backstop Will Smith to a 10-year, $140M extension. The move caps an offseason in which the team augmented an already strong rotation and nabbed arguably the best player in the game. All moves signaling a team is going for it.

Seeing a franchise operate this way is uncharted territory for Mariners' fans, especially amidst a massive disconnect between ownership and the front office. Either way, the Mariners will reach a point where locking up their core is essential; that's why all the penny-pinching and moving the deck chairs around with a series of net zero trades. The time is coming for Jerry Dipoto and Justin Hollander to start locking up the young core, rated as the third-best by Jordan Shusterman and the Cespedes Family BBQ team just this week.

Superstar centerfielder Julio Rodriguez could be in a Mariner uniform for as many as 13 years, but who is next in line for some job security? Service time could be an indicator, meaning Logan Gilbert or Cal Raleigh should be next up. Smith's deal is intriguing because it could provide a baseline for Raleigh's next contract, especially when you look at their statistics side by side. The 29-year-old Smith is two years older than Seattle's backstop, so we'll consider that and look at the past two years.

Games

Slash

wRC+

Total WAR

Raleigh

264

.221/.295/.767

116

8.9

Smith

263

.259/.354/.834

129

8.5

Smith offers a more quality hit tool, which explains the higher slash. However, given his age and being firmly in his prime, Raleigh likely has room to grow on both sides of the ball. Additionally, note the WAR column driven by the Mariners' backstop's defensive abilities, which have led to him finishing in the top three in runners thrown out the past two years.

Diving into Baseball Savant provides even more evidence that Smith's decade-long extension is, in fact, the baseline for Raleigh's negotiations with the Mariners. While Smith might not be elite in any one category, he flashes a unique offensive skillset that includes average to excellent ratings (50-85) in eight offensive categories and two catching-related metrics (blocks above average and pop time). Raleigh's page tells a different story but still shows eleven skills in the average to excellent bucket.

When envisioning a Big Dumper extension, the critical point is the value the Mariners place on their young core, specifically up-the-middle talent. Also, catchers are traditionally late bloomers, at least offensively, which bodes well for Raleigh as he enters his prime and hopefully gets a big payday shortly.