An Offseason Plan that won’t make you cry.

This offseason plan involves three free agent signings and four trades. (Well, more like two point five free agent signings and three point one trades.) The final payroll will be in the $140 million range and, depending on your source, only gives up at the most one top ten prospect. The on field product should be serviceable without any contributions from Lewis or Rodriguez to start the year. The team should be projected for at or above league average production across the diamond with solid backup options that are above replacement level. The rotation should be much improved and the bullpen will have more of a right to be as good as last year’s bullpen than last year’s bullpen ever had.

FA 1: Sign Max Scherzer to a 2 year $70 million deal, with bonuses that could take it to $80 million.

The best and easiest place to upgrade is at starting pitcher. It’s always been easier to attract pitchers than hitters to the Northwest. And the best way to upgrade is on a shorter deal that doesn’t overlap with the incoming prospects. And the best option for all the money in the world is of course Max. There is no reason the M’s can’t outbid everyone on a two year deal, and Jerry likes to add bonuses for starting pitcher contracts so assume there will be something like that in this case as well.

FA 2: Sign Tyler Anderson to a 2 year $16 million deal, with a vesting option for a 3rd year at $10 million.

Anderson was solid down the stretch and expressed an interest in returning, but also probably wants a multi-year deal. Again, Jerry likes having vesting options on pitchers so something like two guaranteed with a third that vests based on innings pitched seems likely. This will solidify the back of the rotation with Kikuchi and Sheffield gone. (more on Sheffield in a moment)

FA 3: Sign Wade LeBlanc to a split contract worth $2 million, with a release option on June 1st.

This doesn’t have to be exactly LeBlanc, it could be Tyler Clippard, or Matt Shoemaker, or Tanner Roark. Or who knows, maybe Jon Lester wants to come back to the Northwest. The idea is an aging starter who is scraping replacement level and might not be able to get a guaranteed contract, but could provide meaningful depth. They would ideal start the year in Tacoma, and even more ideally be released on June 1st because the entire rotation has had no problems at all. By midseason the pitching prospects can start to provide some of that depth if necessary. I chose LeBlanc here because of the history with the Mariners. It seems like they are in a good place to sign one of these type of deals, and maybe they can even get 2 such pitchers.

Trade 1: take advantage of the White Sox Relief Pitcher needs

White Sox get Steckenrider and Padlo

Mariners get Burger, Burr, and Dahlquist

The White Sox famously need bullpen help, and the Mariners will have a lot of that leftover. While they will definitely need a strong pen, having some flexibility with young and optionable arms will be ideal while selling high on one of the breakthrough oldies provides an opportunity for someone like Sadler or Munoz to establish themselves towards the back of the pen.

Burr is an optionable arm that will give them more flexibility, and who knows relief arms are volatile.

With swapping Padlo for Burger here, the Mariners are upgrading their thirdbase depth. Burger is probably still just a depth piece or roleplayer but is an upgrade on Padlo and does still have options. But also has hit very well and who knows maybe he’s the next Ty France. With at least a few questions about Toro it is good to have another possibility.

Trade 2: Replace Seager(-ish) and fill the catcher hole.

Mariners get: Donaldson, Garver, Rortvedt, and cash (5 million)

Twins get: Murphy, Sheffield, Burger, Fraley, and White

Because Donaldson’s contract is upside down, the Mariners don’t have to give up much and can unload White’s contract at the same time. The Twins have promising young players like Arraez at third and Jeffers behind the plate that are blocked by the established players being traded to the M’s. White doesn’t have to develop this year, as Sano has one more year on the books, but if he does there is room at DH for Sano if necessary. The just acquired Burger will have chances to play at both third and DH with Donaldson on the way out. With free agency and injury bugs to their pitching staff there is certainly another chance for Sheffield to show that he can remain a starter. With Garver on the way out, Murphy becomes a solid backstop for the Twins that could become fulltime if Jeffers needs more time for some reason. Maybe a change of scenery will help Fraley to stay healthy. This also frees up a lot of money for the Twins to go after someone to replace Simmons at shortstop. But they will probably still kick in a little cash so it doesn’t look like too much of a selloff.

Garver is an underrated frontline catcher with a nearly 4 WAR season in 2019, though there were some injuries that limited his time in 2021. He is under contract for two more years, giving some time for Cal to ease in as more of a backup for a few more years. Donaldson might spend more time at DH than 3B for the M’s like he did last year for the Twins depending on his own health as well as the health and availability of players like Lewis and Rodriguez compared to whether or not Toro can become a big league regular. Either way he is a solid bat that stretches the middle of the lineup for the next two years when the Mariners have little in the way of other commitments in large contracts. Rortvedt provides an optionable backup catcher they can stash in Triple AAA in case Garver is hurt again or Raleigh needs more time. And by taking on Donaldson’s contract at the front they make more salary space when White’s salary goes up in the next few years. With so many once highly regarded players being dealt as their value is low, this certainly has the chance to make the M's front office look like Preller after the Nola trade, but none of them were expected to be anything more than roleplayers for the M's, and the return are two above average starters, plus some needed depth.

Trade 3: The obligatory Rays trade.

Mariners get Joey Wendle, Kevin Kiermaier, and Esteban Quiroz

Rays get Taylor Levi Stoudt and Corey Rossier

Of course there will be a trade with the Rays. And it makes the most sense that it would involve getting an infielder, as they are pretty stacked in that department right now while it is the biggest need for the Mariners. Lowe and Franco are untouchable. Diaz and Walls are not good matches for the Mariners needs. They probably wouldn’t trade Brujan unless they could get Rodriguez or Kelenic (though other pieces included of course). So that leaves Wendle. The good news is that Wendle was a very solid regular last year and should be again this year: in fact he put up more WAR than Seager at 10% of the dollar commitment while playing three infielder positions instead of just one. He’s under control for two more years and bats lefty in a righty heavy lineup. If nothing else he can be a place holder for when Marte is ready. Though he mostly played third for the Rays, he has played quite a bit of shortstop and second as well. He could also be a bit of a role model for someone like Toro in terms of moving from a roleplayer to a regular for someone who is not a top of the line talent. Quiroz will provide additional veteran depth in Tacoma and some insurance for the middle infield.

But perhaps as important as finding another regular for the infield is getting a true centerfielder. The Rays are overstocked here as well, and with Keiermaier the most expensive of the lot with only a year left on his contract seems to be the most reasonable choice to move. KK can easily move into a backup or platoon role if Lewis is healthy, or Rodriguez pushes Kelenic into more time in center. He also could serve as a good mentor to all the young players on good defensive skills.

From the Rays side, moving both Wendle and Keiermaier makes a lot of sense. The infield logjam was already discussed in detail, but the Rays will still have two centerfielders in Phillips and Margot. Phillips did well last year and is now out of options, so can form some sort of platoon in center with Margot in the future. Moving both of these players will save the Rays quite a bit of money by their standards, which is the main goal here. They also get Stoudt, who is the kind of fringy starting pitcher prospect the Rays can probably turn into something. And maybe Rossier turns into another Brett Phillips in four years.

Trade 4: lottery ticket swap meet.

Rangers get Luis Torrens

Mariners get Chris Seise

Removing Haggerty, Bauers, and Long from the 40 man before the World Series was even over was the first bit of cleaning up the roster of fringe MLB players. The package to the Twins took care of a few more. At this point the only fringe player left without options is Torrens. As useful as he happened to be for the 2nd half, he doesn’t really have a spot on the team going forward.

The Rangers have so many prospects in the 35 FV range that they need to figure out what to do with. But also they have lots of playing time available at the big league level for pretty much any one at any position. Maybe Torrens can continue to develop at catcher or even an infield corner. But being out of options with better players ahead of him at every position he might be able to play on a team trying to win now means that there is little room for him on the Mariners with an already righty heavy lineup.

Seise (or whoever) won’t likely end up ever being worth as much as Torrens was last year, but if he is it might happen at a time when it could be useful. And middle infield is where there is most likely to be a need in the near future when Walton is out of options. Who knows, maybe Torrens is worth two or three of these players.

How the roster shakes out

The following is an estimation of playing time through the first month or so of the season. Players in Parentheses represent minor league depth at each position in general. This assumes both Lewis and Rodriguez will not be available at the start of the year. As one or both of them become available, more DH time will be used by the outfielders at the expense of whichever infielders need more time off, either for injury or ineffectiveness. Toro, Moore, Fraley, France, and Kelenic will all have options, so it won’t be hard to get the best bats into the lineup.

1B: France (95%), Donaldson (5%), Moore (0%), (Travis)

2B: Wendle (85%), Toro (10%), Moore (5%), France (0%), (Walton, Quiroz)

SS: Crawford (95%), Moore (5%), Wendle (0%), (Walton)

3B: Toro (60%), Donaldson (30%), Moore (5%), Wendle (5%), France (0%), (Walton)

C: Garver (70%), Raleigh (30%), (Rortvedt, Godoy?)

RF: Haniger (70%), Kelenic (25%), Moore (5%), (Rodriguez)

CF: Keiermaier (75%), Trammel (15%), Kelenic (10%), (Lewis)

LF: Kelenic (55%), Trammel (35%), Moore (10%), (Rodgriguez)

DH: Donaldson (60%), Haniger (25%), [Garver, France, Toro, Kelenic, Wendle](10-15% distributed among these players, depending on interleague player), (Rodriguez, Lewis, Burger)

Opening Day Lineup:

1- Crawford SS (L) (2021 WRC+ 103)

2- France 1B (R) (2021 WRC+ 129)

3- Wendle 2B (L) (2021 WRC+ 106, compared to Seager’s 99)

4- Donaldson DH (R) (2021 WRC+ 124)

5- Haniger RF (R) (2021 WRC+ 120)

6- Kelenic LF (L) (2nd half 2021 WRC+ 94)

7- Garver C (R) (2021 WRC+ 137 in limited time)

8- Keiermaier CF (L) (2021 WRC+ 101)

9- Toro 3B (S) (2021 Mariners WRC+ 99)



2- Flexen

3- Marco

4- Gilbert

5- Anderson

Minor league depth: LeBlanc, Dunn, Brash, (Kirby), (Williamson), Margevicius?

By pushing everyone down a notch, the rotation looks a lot better with a 5 win pitcher at the top. Scherzer will be a great role model for all the young starting pitchers that come through this year. And there is no pressure for Gilbert to be dominant immediately. Gilbert is the only one of the starting five with options, and there isn’t a whole lot of depth. LeBlanc (or whoever) and Dunn are the only pitchers with any major league starting experience outside of the top five. Brash should be ready to go as soon as needed, with Kirby and Williamson and perhaps others becoming available eventually.


High Leverage: Giles, Castillo, Sewald

Middle relief: Munoz, Sandwiches, Alcala, Sadler

Long relief/Up and down: Burr, Ramirez, Swanson, Mills, Fletcher, Gerber, Then, starter depth

Technically, Giles, Sewald and Sadler are the only three from this group who don’t have options left. But hopefully Castillo, Munoz, Sandwiches, and Alcala can be bullpen staples throughout the year as well. If any of these falter, Burr, Ramirez and Swanson should be solid fallback options. And maybe Mills, Fletcher, Gerber or Then can develop into dependable options over the course of the year.


This roster is definitely not a sure thing to make the playoffs, but it seems likely to remain competitive throughout the year. More importantly, it sets things up to be in a better spot in 2023. Several young players will have had a chance to establish themselves (or not) by then, especially Kelenic, Lewis, France, Raleigh, Toro, and Gilbert. And players debuting this year will have had a chance to show if they deserve more time as well. At the same time there are still few longer term contracts, with Haniger, Giles and Keiermaier coming off the books and only a year left on Scherzer, Donaldson, Garver, and Wendle, with the latter two still in arbitration so they aren't even obligated to pay them for that long. And there is nothing to keep them from extending these players if it looks like they will be needed beyond the next year or two. Many of the starting pitchers under contract beyond the next two years will have club or vesting options, which provides a lot of flexibility with all of the promising young arms on the horizon. There’s no reason this team can’t continue to remain competitive for the next half a decade or so.