The Mariners season came to an end last week, as Seattle’s first playoff berth in two decades was cut short in the Divisional Round. After sweeping the Blue Jays in the Wild Card round, the M’s were dealt a sweep by their division rivals in Houston.
With the year wrapped up, a couple key Mariners players are going under the knife. Corner outfielder Jesse Winker underwent a procedure on his left knee, president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto informed reporters (including Jake García of KING 5 News). He’ll also undergo neck surgery at some point in the future. A cervical disc bulge in his neck sent Winker to the injured list just before the start of the playoffs, causing him to miss Seattle’s postseason run.
Meanwhile, reliever Andrés Muñoz will need to undergo surgery on his foot, Dipoto said (via Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times). Muñoz pitched through whatever discomfort had been bothering him and didn’t spend any time on the injured list this season. He was also called upon by skipper Scott Servais in all three games of the ALDS.
Dipoto didn’t provide many specifics about either player’s surgeries, although there’s no indication either is expected to be hampered by next Spring Training. Winker figures to get an opportunity to again cement himself as the organization’s primary left fielder. Acquired from the Reds as part of a deal that saw the M’s assume the remainder of Eugenio Suárez’s contract, Winker had a tough debut season in the Pacific Northwest.
He hit .219/.344/.344 through 547 plate appearances. An excellent 15.4% walk rate was enough to prop up slightly above-average offensive production overall, but it was markedly below his .292/.392/.552 combined line from 2020-21. Paired with subpar defensive marks in left field, Winker rated right around replacement level. Seattle signed the 29-year-old to a two-year contract to avoid arbitration in June. He’ll make $8.25MM in 2023 and hit free agency at the end of the year.
Muñoz, on the other hand, should be a fixture on the roster for quite some time. The M’s signed the hard-throwing righty to a $7.5MM guarantee last offseason on the heels of two seasons mostly lost to Tommy John surgery. They tacked on an extra three seasons of potential club control, through 2028, a move that looks excellent after the 23-year-old returned with 65 innings of 2.49 ERA ball this season. Muñoz punched out an otherworldly 38.7% of opposing hitters on the back of a triple-digit fastball and wipeout slider and he now looks like one of the best late-game weapons in the sport.
In other injury updates, Dipoto announced that backstop Cal Raleigh was headed to see a specialist after tearing a ligament in his left thumb (via Adam Jude of the Seattle Times). It isn’t clear if he’ll eventually have to undergo surgery. Star center fielder Julio Rodríguez played through a small finger fracture at the end of the year. Neither seems to be in danger of missing any time at the start of next season.