Luken Baker, 1B/DH - St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals have a first baseman with 60-grade power languishing on the depth chart that includes superstar Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Gorman, and, at some point, Jordan Walker. That player is Luken Baker.
If we are parsing the past, Baker has a lot of similarities with Mitch Haniger. He struggled his first few minor league seasons, but he turned a corner in 2023. In 84 games, Baker brought a seasoned approach, as evidenced by his 15.5% walk rate and 20.2% strikeout rate. The 6'4" first baseman would rip 55 extra-base hits, including 33 long balls in AAA. He'd use that performance to earn a 33-game stint with the Cardinals struggling to the tune of a .209/.313/.627 slash line. If that doesn't scream Arizona Diamondback, 2016 Mitch Haniger, I don't know what does.
Haydyn McGeary, 1B/DH - Chicago Cubs
We'll stick with a familiar profile with this one. Haydyn McGeary, the Cubs' 17th-rated prospect, is blocked by breakout star Christopher Morel and uber-prospect Matt Mervis. Both players had extensive time with the big league club last season, making McGeary somewhat of an after-thought for the Cubs' plans at the cold corner.
McGeary brings tremendous power (55 grade) and a solid hit tool (50 grade) to the batter's box. 2023 was a great one for the 6'4" first baseman, as he authored a .275/.397/.859 slash line across two levels of Chicago's farm system. He also showed improved patience at the plate and great strike zone judgment (80 BB), which jives with the Mariners' organizational "dominate the zone" model.
The righty-swinging McGeary has above-average gap power and routinely can drive the ball the other way, which would help him overcome the T-Mobile effect.
Austin Shenton, 1B/3B - Tampa Bay
Die-hard Mariner prospect fans will remember this guy. Shenton was an above-average infielder with a solid hit tool in the Mariners' system until July 2021. That was when Jerry Dipoto shipped him to Tampa Bay for closer Diego Castillo. The trade was a tough pill, as Castillo's performance declined, and the Mariners loved Shenton and still do.
That brings us to today, where All-Star Yandy Diaz and top prospect Junior Caminero block the 25-year-old corner infielder's path to the big leagues. Shenton finished this past season in Triple AAA (Durham) and slashed .304/.423/1.007, launching 29 homers, 45 doubles, and scoring 102 runs across two minor league stops.
Considering the Mariners' familiarity with both Tampa Bay's front office and Shenton, as well as their love of positional versatility, a trade to bring him back makes a ton of sense.
Yes, the big names will float around the Mariners this offseason but keep an eye on these under-the-radar possibilities. Because we all know Dipoto and General Manager Justin Hollander have a type, and any of these three check the boxes.