Where Logan Morrison and Corey Hart fit with Justin Smoak

J. Meric

The Mariners just gave themselves another logjam at 1B/DH. How's it all fit?

The Mariners sure do like 1B/DH candidates. Although these moves are good ones, the Mariners still have some shuffling around to do in order to make everything work. They're still extremely lefty-heavy, and while Hart helps that, a Logan Morrison/Justin Smoak bonanza does not. Let's examine the possible scenarios.

1. Logan Morrison left field, Corey Hart DH, Justin Smoak first base.

This is probably the most likely scenario if none of them get moved. Since Smoak's the only one who can definitely not play in the outfield, he'll be locked to first. The Mariners would ideally like to preserve Hart's health by keeping him at DH, and even though Morrison sucks in the outfield, he's the most likely to play there.

Morrison is best suited for a platoon, and that's where the Mariners continual search for right-handed bats comes in. Earlier we mentioned Justin Ruggiano as a possible trade target, but given that the Mariners just completed a trade with his deal without him in it, the chances of that are fairly slim. Chris Denorfia is another trade option, as is bringing back Franklin Gutierrez, who the Mariners could attempt to keep healthy by only playing him against left-handed pitching. Abraham Almonte is a switch hitter, but he's not a good platoon partner - he's been significantly better hitting against RHP than LHP.

2. Trade Justin Smoak, Corey Hart DH, Logan Morrison 1B.

This is the second most popular theory being tossed around, with the idea being that Smoak could be sent to the Rays as a possible as part of a David Price deal. While the deal for Price seems a lot less likely now that his agent has interfered with negotiations and Z has stated his desire to keep Taijuan Walker, Smoak with Nick Franklin and James Paxton would be a good, logical trade for the Rays. It still doesn't make much sense for the Mariners unless they add even more to surround Price with, but they're clearly not done.

There's also an opportunity to trade Smoak (or flip Morrison) to other teams who need first base help, including the Brewers. Depending on what the Mariners brass thought of Carter Capps, there's always a chance that the M's could fill a hole greater than the one Capps vacated with one of these excess assets.

3. Corey Hart in the outfield, trade one of Morrison/Smoak (or keep them both).

This is one that scares me, especially because the team will now rely on Hart to be an offensive centerpiece. His knees are shot, and even though he looks good in this off-season agility video, his knees are even more busted up than Morrison's, which is saying something. Hart was a mediocre defender even before he missed a year with two blown tires, so don't expect him to be even average if he returns. Despite recent claims that Z only cares about dingers and doesn't pay attention to outfield defense, health is the real issue here. It does look like the team is at least entertaining the thought of him in right field.

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I vote for the second scenario. It's the best defensive alignment, and the team can get a minor league lefty-masher to come in and start versus LHP. He doesn't have to be a particularly great defender and can stick at DH, while Hart moves to 1B against LHP. In our off-season plan, we suggested Mauro Gomez for this role, but he's been shipped overseas.

Perhaps Scott Van Slyke can be snagged from the Dodgers to fill that platoon role, or the Mariners can find a masher who can't play defense in the Rule 5 draft. Brock Peterson is another option, currently floating around with no future in the Cardinals organization. Willie Bloomquist does allow the Mariners to carry an extra all-bat no-glove type player, and platooning Morrison seems to be the right decision, at least until he proves he can hit like he used to.

Under the second scenario (assuming Smoak is dealt), it's a simple platoon.

vLHP vRHP
1B Corey Hart Logan Morrison
DH Scott Van Slyke Corey Hart

It seems like the Mariners are just getting started, but they're one lefty masher away from having themselves a nice high-upside platoon at 1B/DH. If Smoak is indeed out the door, surely he'll be used to fill another one of those remaining holes.

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