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Arbitraging the Market: Outfield

The M's need an outfielder, but in what role?

They were the best of times, and they were the worst of times.
They were the best of times, and they were the worst of times.

Trader Jerry has kicked the offseason right in the pants, giving us moves as the rest of the world was a trio of Bud Heavys into their Sunday afternoon. He's not done, of course, and one of the moves still to come is likely for an outfielder. Seth Smith is back in right after the club picked up his option, but Nori Aoki is now in Houston, opening up a hole in left. The club will be forced with a decision: plan to hand Guillermo Heredia the left field job -- which wouldn't be a bad choice, as he showed good bat control and solid defense in his debut -- or try to find a cheap everyday option in left and allow Heredia to serve as a roving backup and Smith's platoon partner. When you're balling on a budget, finding a platoon option is certainly easier than finding a full-time player, but there are still one or two options out there should they choose to look for a full-timer.

Full-Time Left Fielder: Gregor Blanco
Throughout his career, the design has been for Blanco to be a part-time player, but he's been pressed into a larger role and handled himself well. He's a lefty, but has been relatively platoon neutral, so he wouldn't need to have a designated partner. An above-average field in left who can handle center when needed, Blanco would be a perfect fit for this team, and his value on the market has never been lower than it is now, coming off a down year with no major red flags that suggest he's a different player.

Platinum Platoon Partners: Rajai Davis, Desmond Jennings, and Austin Jackson
A pair of right-handed hitters who provide more value than your traditional platoon options, Davis and Deezy are likely going to attract more full-time opportunities than the M's can promise. Davis, historically much better against lefties, actually fared quite well against righties in 2016 as an everyday player for the Indians. Odds are he gets a everyday type offer from a team more desperate than the Mariners, but he'd be an excellent insurance policy for Heredia while platooning with Smith. With Deezy, his ability all depends on what numbers you believe -- his high quality output from 2011-2014, or injury plagued small samples from 2015-2016. Of course it's rosier to believe he's still the three win player he once was, but the injuries have taken a toll and he may never reach that level again despite just turning 30. You're taking a bit of a flier with Jennings, but it's the right risk for the Mariners. Austin Jackson also makes a ton of sense, but the wound is still fresh.

Pure Platoon Partners: Drew Stubbs, Ryan Raburn, Franklin Gutierrez, and Craig Gentry
All four of these fine gentlemen are best when on the bench against righties. Stubbs and Raburn each have shown signs of slowing over the past couple seasons, and Gentry essentially hasn't played in two years. All have a good history, but none are safe bets. Guti, on the other hand, has continued to be a good platoon bat, even if now he is purely that. If a more robust option doesn't present itself, he would make for a good fallback.