The Athletic gives the Mariners' offseason an underwhelming grade

As the season quickly approaches, the Athletic reviewed all of the moves made by Seattle to prepare for 2024 and writer Jim Bowden was unimpressed
San Francisco Giants v Seattle Mariners
San Francisco Giants v Seattle Mariners / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

Every year, Jim Bowden of The Athletic (paywall) goes through the changes to every major league roster and gives each organization a letter grade expressing his views on whether they did enough to improve. Many of the grades were unsurprising, with the Los Angeles Dodgers earning the highest grade of A+ and the Baltimore Orioles earning the second-highest grade of A. Meanwhile, teams with traditionally tighter pursestrings like the Miami Marlins, Oakland Athletics, and Cleveland Guardians earned Ds. For their troubles this offseason, the Seattle Mariners received a B-.

To their credit, they were quite active this winter, signing three free agents in the form of Mitch Garver, Ryne Stanek, and Austin Voth. They also made trades to acquire Jorge Polanco, Mitch Haniger, Luke Raley, Gregory Santos, and Luis Urias. Bowden's main takeaway was that although they revamped weak spots in their roster the Mariners still did not do enough to bolster the offensive output of the current team.

Jim Bowden gave the Mariners a B-

Acquiring Mitch Garver and Jorge Polanco were improvements but perhaps not enough to compete in arguably the toughest division in baseball. With the past two winners of the World Series coming out of the AL West, it's simply not enough to acquire a DH and a second baseman with a history of injury to rise above the competition.

On the bright side, the rotation remained intact and is projected to still be one of the best in baseball. The bullpen is largely the same as it was at the end of last year, maintaining key pieces like Andrés Muñoz and Matt Brash. Justin Topa, Isaiah Campbell, and Prelander Berroa were sent off to different teams but Seattle received Gregory Santos in return so there shouldn't be too much of a regression in reliever performance.

Nonetheless, if all of the new faces perform as expected and some old faces return to their normal swinging selves, the Mariners might just be good enough to make a return to the postseason. Despite his underwhelming grade, Bowden projected them to be third in the division and end up with the second AL wild-card spot.

Could the Mariners potentially have been more aggressive in pursuing pricier free agents like Jeimer Candelario, Jorge Soler, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., or even Matt Chapman and Cody Belinger? Potentially, but that's already setting quite a lofty expectation. Furthermore, outside of Shohei Ohtani and arguably Jung-hoo Lee, the crop of position players was less than stellar this year anyway. Unlike the 2022 offseason which saw one of the most stellar class of shortstop free agents along with Aaron Judge and Brandon Nimmo, no teams really spent on anyone, so the Mariners were not alone in their seemingly frugal approach.

The Mariners have a good team. Do they have the best team baseball has ever seen? No. Do they have the best team in the division? Probably not. Do they have a team that can be competitive and win on any given day? Of course. It remains to be seen whether their work will pay off or whether more trades will be required before August, but the inherent chaos and not-knowing of it all is what makes baseball great.