This free-agent class doesn’t have a dynamic shortstop (Correa, Swanson, Turner) or an ace available (DeGrom, Verlander), and there is a massive drop-off between Tier 1 and Tier 2. Basically, there is one player in that top group: Shohei Ohtani. According to MLB Insider Jeff Passan, the Mariners are possible suitors for the two-way star this offseason.
We’ve heard this before. When Ohtani originally came stateside, General Manager Jerry Dipoto went all in, offloading prospects for international spending money. Pablo Lopez, the Minnesota Twins’ frontline starter and American League All-Star, was one of the many top prospects sent packing to boost the bank account. Well, we all know how that panned out.
The big problem is the team didn’t have a Plan B if they couldn’t snag Ohtani. You’d like to think Dipoto and Justin Hollander have learned from their mistakes and have a few baked-out alternatives, whether this is leveraging one of their young starting pitchers for a couple of bats (I see you STL). Or taking advantage of what looks like a strong international free agent class comprised of solid arms from Japan or a dynamic hitter like Jung Hoo-Lee from the Korean Baseball League.
The good news is the Mariners have plenty of routes to improve this team, which is an overarching theme in the clubhouse.
The pressure is on the front office to make moves that don’t just solidify the edges of the roster (Pollock, Wong, Hummel) but infuse actual talent into a team with World Series aspirations. Snagging a generational talent like Shohei Ohtani would be a start, but it’s not as easy as leaning into the Mariners’ Japanese roots and the burgeoning star of Julio Rodriguez. Find a way to make the team better. The players, the fans, heck, the city of Seattle is waiting. Your move, Jerry.