This Friday, it was announced by Jeff Passan that the Seattle Mariners would be finalizing a trade with the Brewers to send Jesse Winker and Abraham Toro to the Brewers for Kolten Wong. This is the second major move the Mariners have made this offseason to address a position of significant need. Despite the success in getting Wong and Teoscar Hernández to fill in for the departing Adam Frazier and Winker, the Mariners still have major holes to fill. While Jared Kelenic and Taylor Trammell have shown flashes of greatness at times, they have not yet risen to the level of consistency needed for everyday starters. The Mariners should still be on the lookout for another outfielder. Additionally, with the trade of Winker and Kyle Lewis, as well as potentially letting Haniger walk in free agency, the Mariners are now on the hunt for an everyday DH.
If we begrudgingly accept that the Mariners are not going to go after a big-name free agent, they must look for trades with teams at a different point in their competitive cycle to cover these holes. Here are a few possibilities if the Mariners choose not to spend the cash fans funneled into T-Mobile Park over the playoff stretch run:
Michael A Taylor
Michael A. Taylor is, admittedly, not a trade that would light the world on fire. However, he is a piece that would be effective for the Mariners. Watching Jesse Winker in the outfield last year was often painful; it was apparent that he lacked as a fielder, and it could often cost the Mariners dearly. Taylor is the polar opposite, a very talented defensive player putting up 19 defensive runs saved across over 1000 innings in 2022, maintaining a .990 fielding percentage and racking up five Outs Above Average in center which put him in the 88th percentile among his peers. While his bat is merely adequate, adding Taylor would massively improve the Mariners defensively. Taylor could be acquired for a low cost and cover the outfield effectively without weighing down the bottom of the order, as he does have some on-base abilities despite a lack of power.
Pros: defensive upgrade, could spell Julio in center, inexpensive cost in trade
Cons: little offensive upgrade, no additional power
Potential trade cost: unranked prospect, cash
At just 26 years old, Verdugo is already an established MLB regular; though he has yet to break through on a national level, he’s worked to show he’s got great discipline at the plate and is solid enough in the field that having him out there doesn’t actively hurt the team. Verdugo finished last year slashing a very lovely, albeit Fenway-aided, .280/.328/.405, tallying a 102 OPS+ in the process. He would be an excellent piece for the Mariners to add; that being said, it would come at a high cost, assuming the Red Sox opt to rebuild rather than acquiring the “7 to 9 players” Chaim Bloom says they’re looking for this off-season.
Pros: Excellent plate discipline and on-base skills
Cons: Lack of big power, might not be available
Potential trade cost: Taylor Dollard/Emerson Hancock + low-level prospect
Anthony Santander had a significant jump in power in the last year, hitting a career-high 33 home runs in 2022, way up from 2021s 18 or his previous career high of 20. On top of that, Santander is a switch hitter, another valuable asset for a Mariners lineup that prizes flexibility, and slightly stronger from the right side where Seattle is thinner in the outfield. This recent success has been largely due to increased playing time, while across advanced stats, Santander has remained relatively consistent from 2021 to 2022. He saw a big jump in barrel percentage (8.4% to 11.6%_, Barrels per plate appearance (5.9 to 8.2), and barreled balls in general, hitting 53 this year compared to 2021, when he only had 26. What this all means is Santander is making good contact and hitting the ball hard, though we have not seen much of a move in batting average or on-base percentage. If he can keep improving like this, I expect both to go up with time. While serviceable in right field, Santander is not plus defensively, potentially taking away DH spots from Adley Rutschman on his off-days. Santander could see an uptick in value playing in primarily a DH-heavy role in Seattle, similar to that of Mitch Haniger. Santander is a solid talent with room for improvement; it may be the O’s don’t want to move their best power bat as they prepare to make their playoff push, but the right package could certainly stir up some interest.
Pros: over-the-fence pop, relatively young, DH role in Seattle is open, could quasi-platoon
Cons: high potential cost if available at all, Orioles potentially selling high
Potential trade cost: Matt Brash and Jonatan Clase; Hancock/Dollard, Clase, plus back-end top 30; check back at the trade deadline maybe?
Ian Happ has been a name often tossed around the past few years as the Mariners continue to look to improve. Happ is coming off of his first All-Star selection and has seen his numbers go up at a fairly steady pace, slashing .271/.342/.440 in 2022. Happ also brings some positional versatility that would be good for a Mariners team that enjoys being able to plug players in wherever they need them. Along with that, he has maintained a strong defensive record, being recognized with his first Gold Glove award last year. Happ may come at a much larger price than we expect, especially coming off the success of 2022, but he would be a welcome addition to the lineup and provide much-needed help in left field.
Pros: Defensive upgrade, switch-hitter
Cons: High cost if available at all, Cubs potentially selling high
Potential trade cost: High. Matt Brash, Emerson Hancock/Taylor Dollard to start, plus additional pieces.
Despite the lack of media attention due to his team’s otherwise dismal year, Suzuki had a solid year for the Cubs, and he remains an interesting piece to have in the lineup. His modest line of .262/.336/.433 hides the depth of talent he has. His average exit velocity, barrel percentage, and hard hit percentage are all above average, and it could be that he takes a big step forward next year with a year of MLB pitching under his belt. As an older international player, he doesn't fit the window for the Cubs right now. I do think it will take some doing to bring him over, but it wouldn’t be impossible.
Pros: High upside, tri-positional defensive ability, righty hitter
Cons: Unlikely to be available one year after being signed, higher $ cost, lack of MLB track record
Potential trade cost: Varies greatly on M’s taking on full salary; less than Happ would cost but both of Hancock/Dollard, or one plus a Top 20 prospect likely.
Bryan Reynolds has come out and demanded a trade; however, the Pirates have said they are not going to trade him, and who can blame them. Reynolds has a ton of talent, is a solid fielder, hits well from both sides of the plate, and is young enough to be the leader of a potential up-and-coming Pirates team. Still, it's obvious he doesn't want to be there, and there's something to be said for the effect that could have on the clubhouse. I still believe it would take an overwhelming deal to get the Pirates to move, and as good as Reynolds is, I’m not sure that's a price the Mariners are willing to pay.
Pros: instant upgrade to Mariners outfield offensively and defensively, player long coveted by front office
Cons: Might not be available; Mariners easily outbid by other teams with deeper farms
Potential trade cost: If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
The 2021 World Series MVP has seen better days. His time in Miami has been forgettable, to be sure, first having missed a lot of time and then being unable to return to his world-beating 2019 form. Still, Soler has been in the top 1% of the league in Max Exit Velocity since he entered MLB, and despite a shortened season for him, last year was no different. Soler could provide a much-needed power boost with the departure of Jesse Winker and Mitch Haniger, and considering his age and contract, even the hitting-poor Marlins could be looking to dump him for next to nothing.
Pros: Over-the-fence power from the right side, can be had for mostly cash, DH role a better fit for him but can play some outfield, somehow only 30 years old
Cons: Decline in offensive production over past few seasons, skyrocketing K rate in 2022
Potential trade cost: sweet sweet cash and a backend Top 30 position player prospect
Cron has entered the renaissance of his career, putting up some of his best numbers in his first year in Colorado before dropping off somewhat in 2022. Coming off of his first career All-Star selection (although admittedly under the “all teams have to have one” rule), Cron could be a good addition for the Mariners to use at DH or first base. Similar to Soler, Cron has always been one of the top 3% in the league in max EV; he also ranks highly in barrel percentage and hard-hit ball percentage. Additionally, Cron is a heavy pull hitter, with a majority of his home runs and hits going into left field and to the left side, and could be a major beneficiary of the upcoming shift rule changes. The Rockies are always inscrutable, but in a stacked NL West, moving Cron, who is in the second year of a one-year deal and slated to make $7.25M, makes sense no matter what.
Pros: Low prospect cost, over-the-fence power
Cons: Potential post-Coors dropoff, regressed in 2022, what are the Rockies ever doing
Potential trade cost: Cash and a back-end Top 30 prospect
Bobby Dalbec has always been an interesting player; he’s had some great moments and good stretches but has never really put it all together, and now it looks like he's been passed up at every position in favor of other players. Despite this, I still think there's a very talented player underneath it all that could be valuable for the Mariners. Even with limited playing time, Dalbec was still near the top of the league in Max EV, hard-hit ball percentage, average exit velocity, and barrel percentage. When he makes contact, it's more than likely going to go pretty far. However, his big weakness right now is he doesn’t walk a lot, and he whiffs a lot, sitting in the bottom 5% of the league in whiff percentage. Bringing Dalbec into a Mariners team that was so successful with the walk last year could lead to a change, however. With a backlog at all of his positions, the Red Sox have indicated to other teams they’re ready to move on from him; the Rays are reportedly interested, but the Mariners would represent a trade out of the division.
Pros: good Statcast metrics, young, power potential if the Mariners can help him C the Z.
Cons: No proven MLB track record, higher prospect cost
Potential trade cost: If the Red Sox want to compete now, Penn Murfee or another MLB-experienced young player; if they want a piece for the future, Taylor Dollard or similar.
These are just some of the players that could be available to the Mariners this offseason. With winter meetings in full swing , and Jerry announcing that the Mariners are looking for one or possibly 2 more bats per Ryan Divish, the Mariners could certainly be in the mix on these talented players. I don’t expect a blockbuster, but one or two of these guys could put the Mariners in a much stronger position heading into 2023.