The Mariners sought multiyear accords with a couple of free agents this winter, including Kolten Wong and Tommy La Stella, per Daniel Kramer of MLB.com. The Mariners were clear in their attempt to find a left-handed bat to split time with Dylan Moore at second base. Ideally, that player could stick his cleat in the grass at times as well, specifically as an option in left field.
Though the Mariners came up empty, there were more than a few free agents who fit that mold. Ha-Seong Kim, Marwin Gonzalez, Jonathan Villar, Jurickson Profar, Brad Miller, Jace Peterson, Ehire Adrianza, Brock Holt, and Dee Strange-Gordon signed elsewhere at a variety of different price points. It’s a little hard to fathom that the Mariners couldn’t find a way to add someone from that group. Presumably, those names either didn’t fit GM Jerry Dipoto’s vision or priced themselves beyond the Mariners’ comfort zone. Mike Freeman and Eric Sogard are two options whom the Mariners could turn to, should they want to bolster their depth. They are prepared to enter camp with the roster as-is, however.
Per Kramer, Dipoto more-or-less put a bow on their winter work, saying, “We had a series of targets, each of which we thought were ideal fits. We put them in an order that we thought best represented the way we saw that player, and then we tried to go out and get them. In all of those cases, we offered multiyear contracts that seemed to fit what we were trying to do not just for 2021, but for 2022 and potentially beyond that. We were aggressive in that market. We just failed to bring in the offensive piece we were looking to add.”
Without that additional piece, the Mariners will roll with Moore at second and Shed Long filling that versatile bench role. Sam Haggerty and Donovan Walton will push him for playing time in spring training, while Taylor Trammell and Jake Fraley will get take some spring at-bats in left. Designated hitter Ty France could also see time at second.
In further Mariners news, Logan Gilbert will likely start the season in Triple-A. While he was previously going to have an opportunity to contend for a spot in their six-man rotation, the James Paxton signing will allow the Mariners to protect his innings and bring him along slowly.
This follows a trend for the Mariners’ roster-building this winter, as they’ve tried to build out their depth to allow for maximum flexibility in how they promote and push their young players. Mission accomplished: if anything, the Mariners are light on veteran depth at the moment on the position player side. As is, they can allot most of the playing time this spring to youngsters, including top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez – both of whom are likely to start the season in the minors.
The Mariners CBT payroll sits at $102MM, per Roster Resource, with their actual payroll even slimmer at $85MM. That leaves them roughly $5MM shy from 2020 payroll level. This winter, they handed out four Major League deals to free agent pitchers: Paxton, Ken Giles, Keynan Middleton, and Chris Flexen. Giles and Flexen received two-year pacts, though Giles will miss this upcoming season. The Mariners have not signed a position player to a Major League contract.