In putting together this offseason plan I wanted to try to step into the shoes of how I think the Mariners Front Office is likely to operate and keep the 40-Man Payroll Budget below the $171 million high mark the Mariners ran in 2018, matching that would still only rank them 16th (based on 2023 Opening Day Payrolls). But since it is not as fun to limit my spending that much, I am bumping the budget to 180 million which would rank them 15th in payroll by the same metric.
While I would love it if Shohei Ohtani was in Mariners
Northwest Green Teal next year I think it’s a bit lazy to have Ohtani a part of an offseason plan as he feels like something separate from any other decision. I am also using Goose’s (@Goose1701) fabulous payroll spreadsheet as my base line for what the Mariners are currently spending, Shoutout Goose for this great resource. I am going to try to keep 40-Man roster at or below 40 guys but if I end up going above just assume I DFA’d /outrighted a pile reliever and/or Evan White to make room. With the guidelines set, I set out 10 goals that I’d like to achieve split out in 3 different categories (Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Goals) and while I won’t hit all of these goals I think they are a good guideline to what I would like to see Jerry and Company do this offseason.
Primary Goals: these are things I think they must get done position doesn't really matter for me to say the offseason was a success:
1. Add a top of the order bat (a guy you are confident in being at least 120+ wRC+ guy that you can play every day)
2. Add a Teo level bat/Replace Teo's production that you are confident in playing everyday
3. Acquire a Veteran Catcher
Secondary Goals: these are things I'd like them to do in addition to the above that I would start to say they are going above and beyond expectations:
4. Add to the Starting Pitching/Swingman depth, especially if you are trading from the current depth to achieve goal 1/2.
5. Add another high leverage bullpen arm, this very well could happen through internal development but getting a guy that you are confident in their track record of being a back-end guy wouldn't hurt.
Tertiary Goals: these are more specific wants of what the players in primary and secondary set of goals could look like:
6. Make it so Josh Rojas is your primary utility guy instead of your primary 2B, while it is likely going to be a platoon with Dylan/Cabby right now, he is slated to get most of the PAs vs RHP which traditionally is about 70% of the overall PAs. I think adding a 2nd baseman that you feel good about vs RHP opens up a lot more rotation/rest days for the rest of your lineup.
7. Of the bats you add make one of them a guy that is a guy with good plate discipline, one that has a history of not chasing/whiffing at a high rate with a preferably high walk rate and low k rate.
8. Make a move with eyes to the future of 3B, getting a guy with limited MLB experience or that is in the high minors that you feel could be the future answer at 3B would be nice as after Geno and the primary 2B pile there isn't a lot to look forward to at 3B.
9. Preferably I would like it if they moved on from Ty France/ Mike Ford being their primary 1B/DH options, this doesn't mean getting rid of either of them, but I would prefer if the big bat they acquire is one that could stabilize 1B/DH and make one of them a bit more expendable.
10. Continue to get more athletic, I feel like the team has started to target better athletes as of late but getting more guys that can steal bases and provide high value base running wise would be nice as far as the rule changes are going and my personal viewing preferences.
With the goals set let’s move on to the "Trader Jerry" portion of "The Plan"
The Seattle Mariners acquire 2B Jorge Polanco (4.5 BTV) from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for RP Prelander Berroa (3.5 BTV) and OF Taylor Trammell (0.6 BTV).
With the Minnesota Twins wanting to shed payroll, and in need of some cost-controlled pitching along with solid depth in the infield It seems like a player that is available and one that the Mariners would have interest in.
Polanco turns 31 in July and has had some injury issues (ankle, Knee and Hamstring issues) having not played a full season since 2021 but when he is healthy, he hits 118, 119 and 124 wRC+ the last 3 seasons. Historically he runs good to elite K, BB, Whiff and Chase rates. While he is not a great defender, I think with the 2B depth the Mariners have being able to rotate him with Rojas/Moore/Cabby/Bliss and DHing would be valuable and opens the ability to play Rojas at elsewhere and give other infielders more regular days off.
Steamer has Polanco projected or a 110 wRC+ and 2.5 fWAR next season. In my eyes Polanco Checks the boxes for goals 2, 6 and 7.
For the Twins side of things, I think Prelander Berroa has the upside to be a high leverage arm and could be a possible replacement for Emilio Pagán if he leaves in free agency and could be an upgrade over some of their other middle relief options. There is also a possibility the Twins could convert Berroa back to a Starter as they will probably need some more starting pitching depth with Gray, Maeda (and Keuchel I guess) being free agents, but I think the high leverage reliever potential Berroa has outweighs trying to make him a starter. While I think this deal could work with just Berroa in it I think adding in Trammell as a sweetener/flier could make some sense, with Michael A. Taylor and Joey Gallo being free agents and Max Kepler seemingly on the Trade Block maybe the Twins would be interested in seeing if they can tap into the raw tools Trammell has. While the Twins do have a lot of LHH OF in the system in addition to Kepler with Wallner, Larnach, Gordan and Kirilloff (who may end up being a 1B) having Trammell as an option might make moving on from Kepler’s salary a little easier.
The Seattle Mariners acquire OF Anthony Santander from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for SP Emerson Hancock (4 BTV) and RP Ty Adock (1.3 BTV)
With the Baltimore Orioles having a history of being cheap, having a need for young controllable pitching and having a glut of young hitting prospects waiting in the wings moving on from Santander’s $12.7 million projected final year arbitration salary could make some sense.
Santander a Switch hitting OF put up back-to-back 2.6 fWAR seasons with 122 and 119 wRC+’s 2022 and 2023. Santander historically hits the ball hard and ranges from slightly below average to above average in K, BB, and Whiff% which would be an improvement in the lineup. While he is not a good defender and below average baserunner you are getting him for his bat that I think leaving Baltimore’s spacious OF would lead to some more home runs in Seattle (31 expected HR in Baltimore vs 38 expected HR in Seattle) which I think would cause a nice bump to the 114 wRC+ and 2.1 fWAR has him slated for. I think Santander hits checks off the box for the #1 goal for the offseason.
With two bats added via trade let’s move on to Free agency.
The Seattle Mariners Sign Catcher Austin Hedges to a 1 year 4-million-dollar deal
While I would love to bring back Tom Murphy, I think he gets a larger deal elsewhere to be a primary catcher. While I don’t like Hedges bat at all he is an elite defensive catcher and with newly acquired Blake Hunt waiting in the wings I think Cal, Hedges, Hunt, and Harry Ford waiting in the wings gives you some of the best catching depth in the league and crosses of goal 3 off my list.
The Seattle Mariners Sign Right-Handed Reliever Joe Kelly to a 1 year 5-million-dollar deal
Though he delt with injuries last season and had middling success there is a whole lot of red on his statcast profile and I think would fit nicely as another high leverage arm checking off a box for goal 5 on my list. Plus, he gets a chance to make faces at the Astros 13 times a year!
The Seattle Mariners Sign Outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to a 4 year 54-Million-Dollar deal
I have gone back and forth on Gurriel Jr. as a free agent option, I have a feeling he may get a deal too rich for mine (and the Mariners FO) taste, but I think at the age 30 and with his plus defense in LF and great Whiff % and K% he adds the contact hitter that this team desires without sacrificing a lot in the power/hard hit department. This checks off goals 2 and 7 again and really lengthens the lineup.
I found free agency a lot tougher to nail down than the trades, there are a lot of pitchers I like and I would like to add a bit to the Starting Pitching depth and to the back end of the bullpen but it didn’t seem like it made a lot of sense to me to spend much of my budget on pitching with how the Mariners develop pitching/regularly have success with minor league signings and waiver claims especially in my plan of keeping the rotation intact. I didn’t want to get too nitty gritty with minor league signings, but I would in addition to these moves do the normal Mariners thing of making waiver claims on semi-interesting pitchers and well signing Tommy Milone to a lifetime Tacoma Rainiers Contract.
With these additions totaling ~$46 million (AAV) in payroll this season that would put the payroll opening day payroll at ~$179 million making a new high mark for the Seattle Mariners organization and firmly supplanting them in the middle of the pack in payroll spending.
My regular lineup would look something like this:
1. SS J.P. Crawford (L)
2. CF Julio Rodríguez (R)
3. DH Anthony Santander (S)
4. C Cal Raleigh (S)
5. LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (R)
6. 2B Jorge Polanco (S)
7. 3B Eugenio Suárez (R)
8. 1B Ty France (R)
9. RF Jarred Kelenic (L)
10. C Austin Hedges (R)
11. UTL Josh Rojas (L)
12. UTL Dylan Moore (R)
13. OF Dominic Canzone (L) or 1B/DH Mike Ford (L)
1. Luis Castillo (R)
2. Logan Gilbert (R)
3. George Kirby (R)
4. Bryce Miller (R)
5. Bryan Woo (R)
6. Marco Gonzales (L)
7. Andrés Muñoz (R)
8. Matt Brash (R)
9. Justin Topa (R)
10. Joe Kelly (R)
11. Gabe Speier (L)
12. Tayler Saucedo (L)
13. Isaiah Campbell (R)
I may get bored and make another one but I'd love to see others thoughts on this plan and if they'd be happy if the Mariners went this direction this offseason.