Player 1: Teoscar Hernandez
The 31-year-old veteran has always had some swing-and-miss in his game, but this season, he took it to another level, finishing third in all Major League Baseball in strikeouts. Dipoto could extend Hernandez the MLB Qualifying Offer, amounting to about $19M - 22M one-year salary. However, there is smoke that the team might be willing to let him test the free agent market. Per MLB insider Ryan Divish, his sources say the Mariners will indeed float the qualifying offer to the Dominican slugger.
If the team is genuinely interested in curbing the strikeouts and getting more bat-to-ball in the lineup, they must let Hernandez walk. Plenty of free-agent options (Cody Bellinger, Jung Hoo-Lee) and even in-house options (Dom Canzone) provide immensely more contact than Teoscar Hernandez.
Player #2: Bryce Miller
The Mariners need help getting position players to sign on the dotted line in free agency. They made runs at Marcus Semien, Trevor Story, and Chris Bryant in the past two years only to lose out on infusing the offense with high-upside talent. Thankfully, there is more than one way to skin a cat,
Dipoto's method of choice is the trade route, and even with blockbuster trades for Eugenio Suarez, Jesse Winker, and Teoscar Hernandez in the past 24 months, the farm is still bubbling with talent. That's why one of the Mariners rookie right-handers could be on the way out the door.
Analytics love Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo, but the latter offers a unique vertical attack angle that other starters in the system don't possess. Plus, Miller has an entire season of innings under his belt and is effectively a plug-and-play starter, which holds value on the trade market. He could be the centerpiece for a young, cost-controlled bat with contact in their skillset (Lars Nootbar, Brendan Donovan, Jordan Walker).
Player #3: Jose Caballero
The 27-year-old sparkplug took the league by storm, showcasing the ability to get under the opposing pitcher's (and catcher's) skin with his manipulation of the pitch clock. He offered positional flexibility playing third base, second base, shortstop, and leftfield this season while accumulating 2.2 WAR. That's an excellent number for a utility man, but the problem is this roster has too many guys who fit this mold (Dylan Moore, Sam Haggerty, and Caballero).
Mariner brass has stated the need for a big middle-of-the-order bat (Ohtani, anyone?) and will likely look to improve the supporting cast surrounding superstar Julio Rodriguez. This means one of the three aforementioned utility guys will make the roster, not all three.
A perfect world would see the team replace Haggerty with Jung Hoo-Lee, an elite contact hitter with plus-plus speed. That leaves Moore, who is entering the second year of a three-year $30M deal he signed last offseason. It's likely that John Stanton, a cost-conscious owner, won't part with Moore in this scenario, and Caballero has three more minor-league options. The writing is on the wall.