The Seattle Mariners can improve the easy way or the hard way

The United States Navy popularized the “KISS precept,” an acronym with many attainable origins however appropriately clear utility. The time period has many slight variations, from the “hold it easy, silly” that I used to be raised on to the maybe extra ubiquitously usable “hold it tremendous easy,” or even “hold it brief and candy.” In this case, the Seattle Mariners can be the beneficiaries of one other variation, becoming for his or her naval connections: “hold it easy, sailor.”

This winter supplies the M’s with an thrilling problem: bettering upon a crew that gained 90 video games with younger and/or strong under-contract gamers at most positions. They are the antithesis of the groups they spent most of the 2010s with, which was a hole starship powered by the cores of three or 4 waning white dwarf stars, with little specks of cosmic mud often ricocheting into its hull for weal (Denard Span) and woe (Danny Valencia). This membership, against this, has depth and a various, sustainable gas provide.

While the solely public projection system at current is Steamer, that is sufficient to supply us a mostly-reasonable augury. Seattle has six full-time place participant starters projected for >2.0 wins above alternative, which is to say common or higher. That is led by 6.0 WAR from Julio Rodríguez and 4.0 WAR from Cal Raleigh, in addition to average-to-above-average numbers from Ty France, JP Crawford, Eugenio Suárez, and Teoscar Hernández. Likewise, the rotation has a wholesome baseline, with 4 starters anticipated to put up >2.0 WAR, in addition to wholesome (merited) skepticism for longtime FIP-buster Marco Gonzales. The bullpen seems to be strong regardless of the departure of Erik Swanson. This leaves Seattle with a pair clear factors of attainable enchancment:

  • 2nd base – Dylan Moore is projected for part-time obligation there and respectable numbers at a 97 wRC+ with 1.1 WAR in 91 video games and 356 PAs, however Moore has all the time been finest deployed as a part-time hitter, particularly in opposition to lefties. His best belongings to the membership are his means to play each place, affording others relaxation days with out cratering on both facet of the ball. The similar goes even more true for Sam Haggerty, whose brilliance in 2022 started to slide into overexposure, significantly in opposition to RHPs.
  • third outfielder – Julio and Teoscar make up a powerful twosome, however who will flank them is up for debate. Is it Jesse Winker, whose well being and defensive limitations might need pushed him out of the group’s plans, however nonetheless tasks for a 124 wRC+ in 107 video games and 452 plate appearances for a near-average 1.3 WAR? Or Jarred Kelenic, with a near-identical projection for video games performed and WAR, albeit by means of higher baserunning and protection and a tamer 106 wRC+? Either participant would doubtless be in want of a platoon-mate, though they’re the present DH and RF as the roster stands, and have higher monitor information/trigger for perception in enchancment. Taylor Trammell and Kyle Lewis are each current as effectively, though they don’t appear to be main concerns in the membership’s plans, nonetheless they’re extra compelling than their excessive minors depth in the infield.
  • Starting pitcher – Do you belief Marco Gonzales? It’s a easy query. And if not, do you belief Chris Flexen as the major bulwark behind him, in addition to the most important possibility ought to Seattle not be as blessed with rotation well being as they had been in 2022?

So, we have three spots, broadly talking, the place the Mariners can focus their enhancements, and nowhere initially screaming “black gap” as has actually been the case in the previous. None of the membership’s main place participant prospects are prone to attain the bigs in the subsequent 12 months or two, so there is no purpose to delay buying long-term upgrades. If Seattle follows their previous paths, borne out of a aim of spendthrift at the beginning, they are going to pursue trades, resembling their rumored curiosity in Brewers 2B Kolten Wong, who they refused to outbid 2-years, $18 million with a crew possibility for 2 winters in the past. A strong participant who I fervently wished the membership to signal (as did we as a website), is a strong participant whose defensive regression at age-31 final 12 months was counterbalanced by a career-best season at the plate.

He tasks as a 2.5 win participant, and as a lefty hitter might present a platoon with Moore and/or Haggerty as he has all the time been in his profession. That’s then round a 3-win participant, give or take, a good wager and a top quality match. It may lock up Moore for extra utilization at a single place than the membership would like, forcing them to play Wong in additional disadvantageous platoons in opposition to lefties the place he is (80 wRC+, .280 wOBA) all the time struggled in his profession, however very similar to Adam Frazier , Wong at $10 million for a single season is a fully defensible, easy way to improve the crew. Similarly, re-signing Frazier, might do the trick, doubtless offering common or higher numbers from second base. But that places immense stress on Seattle to signal Brandon Nimmo or Aaron Judge, which ranges from contentious to vanishingly uncertain.

Does Seattle wish to proceed chipping away at its personal farm system, sending out younger gamers who are sometimes handled as interchangeable in the sport however are in reality extra or much less doubtless to reach buying confirmed expertise, or take the subsequent step in contending by spending to make dramatic enhancements in a single spot, bringing in considered one of the three center infielders in free company projected for >4.5 WAR (Correa – 5.1, Turner – 4.7, Bogaerts – 4.5) to make a extra emphatic leap in the direction of difficult the Houston Astros for the AL West title just isn’t a five-dimensional chess transfer, nevertheless it makes the most sense. Each of these three, in addition to Dansby Swanson, have sturdy instances for higher well being and/or manufacturing histories than Nimmo, whereas Judge, effectively, if the Mariners signal Aaron Judge, you merely will not hear a grievance about it from me, however I’m not holding my breath.

The easiest, most effective, and – whereas I might hardly care much less – most cost-effective way to improve is so as to add the absolute best participant at the place the crew is at the moment worst at. That place is second base in my estimation, due to the gamers at the moment on the roster, the way the present options at that place are most respected after they can be deployed multi-positionally as an alternative, and the indisputable fact that there are extra top-tier choices in free company for up-the-middle infielders, whether or not they play shortstop or second base for Seattle finally, than there are outfielders who’re significant upgrades over Seattle’s in-house choices. Marginal upgrades are all effectively and good, however their alternative price is obstructing off areas for dramatic enhancements.

As Jerry Dipoto has famous not too long ago, the membership is making an attempt to go from good to nice, and whereas he is expressed an affordable sentiment to 710 AM’s Mike Salk asking him to “inform me the final premium free agent the Astros went out and signed,” nonetheless it is a bit of a misplaced query. Houston, who infamously had been punished by shedding their 1st and 2nd spherical picks in 2020 and 2021 for his or her dishonest scandal en path to their 2017 World Series win, have nonetheless made 17 “1st spherical” picks in the 13 drafts since 2010, courtesy of intelligent manipulation of MLB’s earlier compensation system. Seattle made simply 12 “1st spherical” picks in that very same time interval. So sure, Houston could have prevented free company, buying and selling for stars like Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke, and Justin Verlander, after which extending the latter. That draft decide system compensation now not exists in the similar framework, and Seattle should alter to discovering lasting success wanting ahead, not wanting backwards.

Don’t overthink this. Sign a star center infielder. If you are decided to make marginal upgrades elsewhere, so be it. But go large the place it might matter most. KISS, Seattle.

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