Mariners could be in the market for another outfielder

This a lot is for certain for the Mariners’ outfield as the staff progresses by the offseason and towards spring coaching for the much-anticipated 2023 season: Julio Rodriguez is the on a regular basis beginning middle fielder and Teoscar Hernandez will be in the lineup on a close to every day foundation, enjoying one among the nook spots in the outfield. But which one? That’s but to be decided.

And the different outfield spot(s) on the roster and in the lineup, effectively, that is but to be decided, however it could be some mixture of Jarred Kelenic, Jesse Winker, Taylor Trammell, Sam Haggerty or a participant to be acquired or re -signed later in the offseason.

A day after buying and selling former American League rookie of the 12 months Kyle Lewis to the Arizona Diamondbacks in what was primarily a change-of-scenery/fresh-start commerce meant to learn each events, Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners president of baseball operations, reiterated the group’s philosophy when it got here to the outfield in a video information convention. They have been similar to the feedback he made at the latest MLB common supervisor conferences in Las Vegas, the place he was ending up the commerce that introduced Hernandez from the Blue Jays to the Mariners.

“We’ve talked about it pretty brazenly that we wish to add another person to that blend to create extra of a movement,” Dipoto stated. “It’s some mixture of these gamers. We really feel actually strongly about the younger group, any person in that JK, Taylor Trammell and there is Cade Marlow, any person in that group goes to interrupt by, they’re simply too gifted to not.”

That breakthrough may not essentially come as an on a regular basis participant however as a platoon participant and even fourth outfielder.

“We wish to ensure that we offer alternatives, in order that our younger gamers proceed to begin driving. That’s how we constructed this staff is by giving the younger gamers alternative, and we’ll maintain doing that.”

Fans would like to deal with the potential outfielder that Dipoto would possibly purchase as a substitute of the participant returning for apparent causes. Winker’s struggles at the plate and his poor protection in the subject do not supply a lot inspiration. Dipoto stated in Vegas that he would like that Winker sees extra of his at-bats in the designated hitter function.

Kelenic and Trammell have solely proven glimpses of being constant gamers at the MLB stage.

The Mariners have continued to have talks with Mitch Haniger, by his agent Adam Karon, in hopes of presumably bringing him again to play proper subject.

“I’ve been in contact with him all through as has Jerry,” common supervisor Justin Hollander stated. “We met with him at the GM conferences. Certainly, the door continues to be open for Mitch to be again. And we’re nonetheless having these conversations.”

But the Mariners could have some competitors for Haniger, who has drawn curiosity from the Rangers, Dodgers, Giants and Angels, per stories.

The outfield free-agent market is high heavy with megastar Aaron Judge headlining the class. Obviously, Judge would match effectively in the Mariners outfield, actually any outfield. But the early rumors and conversations have the Giants, Dodgers or Yankees prepared to pay closely — $300 million — for Judge.

In phrases of FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement, Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo was the subsequent highest producer at 5.4 WAR for the Mets. While he can play all three outfield positions at a median to above-average stage, Nimmo performed predominantly middle subject this season. He additionally is not a standard energy presence. He hit 16 homers this season, which was one wanting his profession excessive of 17 that he set in 2018. He additionally has a qualifying supply connected, which means the Mariners must surrender their third highest draft choose in the event that they signed him.

Another match would possibly be Andrew Benintendi, who completed his season with a .304/.373/.399 slash line between the Royals and Yankees. Benintendi solely hit 5 homers this season after hitting 17 for the Royals in 2021. But the Mariners crave bat-to-ball expertise, and Benintendi can also be able to enjoying the two nook outfield spots. He was a finalist for the AL Gold Glove this previous season. He’s additionally a left-handed bat, which the Mariners could use to steadiness out the lineup.

There is a brand new addition to the free-agent class that comes with National League MVP on his résumé.

As anticipated, Cody Bellinger was non-tendered by the Dodgers, who opted to let him turn into a free agent as a substitute of paying extra round $18 million in wage arbitration for the 2023 season to their beginning middle fielder.

Bellinger was the 2019 NL MVP after a season in which he produced a .305/.406/.629 slash line with 47 homers.

After slumping early in 2020, Bellinger appeared to be pulling himself collectively in the postseason. But then he dislocated his proper shoulder whereas celebrating a homer in the NLCS. It would later require surgical procedure. The 2021 season was even worse. Plagued by lingering results from the shoulder together with leg and rib cage accidents, he posted an abysmal .165/.240/.302 slash line with 10 homers and 36 RBI. A bounce-back season in 2022 by no means materialized. He had a .210/.265/.389 slash line with 27 doubles, three triples, 19 homers, 68 RBI, 38 walks and 150 strikeouts. But he was nonetheless one among the finest defensive middle fielders in baseball.

His agent, Scott Boras, stated the 27-year-old outfielder is trying for a one-year contract to re-establish his market worth as a substitute of a multiyear deal. The upside potential could be enormous with Bellinger. The previous baseball saying is “there isn’t a such factor as a foul one-year contract.” But does Dipoto wish to try this with Hernandez additionally a free agent after this season? And is Seattle a spot the place Bellinger can resuscitate his profession?

The Mariners could take an opportunity on native product Michael Conforto, who missed all of final season after shoulder surgical procedure. The Redmond High and Oregon State standout is a left-handed hitter with the potential to play the nook spots. He probably would not command as excessive as an asking worth.

Some baseball insiders imagine that if the Mariners do not signal Haniger to a contract they may as a substitute go the commerce route, which Dipoto has typically discovered extra productive and open to prospects. He could transfer packages of gamers, together with Winker and right-hander Chris Flexen together with prospects to accumulate an outfielder. Seattle shopped Kelenic extensively at the deadline as effectively.

His workers has lengthy coveted Pirates All-Star outfielder Bryan Reynolds. While Reynolds has performed largely middle subject, a number of scouts imagine a transfer to a nook outfield place is coming and would possibly assist him keep more healthy.

The Cubs could transfer switch-hitting left fielder Ian Happ, who drew curiosity at the commerce deadline, throughout his All-Star 2023 season.

More commerce alternatives could come up as groups signal free brokers.

“We’ve had quite a lot of commerce conversations with different golf equipment.” Dipoto stated. “I do not really feel that something is especially shut. We have gotten to the level with quite a lot of groups the place we have exchanged names that may be attention-grabbing to create a match. We have not had a direct hit in that regard but. We’re gonna be affected person, there’s actually no must rush. There’s no sport tomorrow.”

And but, Dipoto did purchase Haniger in a five-player commerce the night time earlier than Thanksgiving.

“We do have a couple of goal,” he stated. “There are a handful of gamers that match us that we be ok with particularly because it pertains to outfielders. We really feel like there’s nonetheless a market that’s extra sturdy. And if we’re simply affected person, we’ll discover the participant that fits our roster the finest.”

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