After letting Teoscar Hernández enter free agency without so much as a qualifying offer and subsequently trading both Eugenio Suárez and Jarred Kelenic, the Mariners have lost three hitters who provided above-average offensive production in regular playing time last season. Suárez and Hernández finished second and third on the team in RBI (trailing only superstar Julio Rodríguez), while Kelenic led the team in slugging percentage and isolated power until he fractured his foot in mid-July.
The team’s best options at third base and the corner outfield positions now include Luis Urías, Cade Marlowe, Dominic Canzone, and Taylor Trammell, three unproven 26-year-old outfielders and a former top prospect who struggled tremendously in 2023. Those four combined to hit just .204 last season with a .666 OPS and 87 wRC+ in 515 PA. Veteran utility players Sam Haggerty and Dylan Moore can also cover the outfield and infield corners, but neither is much more than the short side of a platoon given their career numbers against right-handed pitching.
With all that said, it’s no surprise Seattle is looking to add multiple position players this offseason, according to manager Scott Servais (per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times). After all, the Mariners are ostensibly competing with the Astros and Rangers for the AL West crown, but if they’re going to win in 2024, they’ll need an offense to support their deep and talented pitching staff.
The Mariners are not thought to be in the running for Shohei Ohtani, but they could be a good fit for almost every other impact bat on the free agent market. They have also been linked to various trade candidates, including, most recently, Randy Arozarena and Isaac Paredes of the Rays.
It remains unclear how much money president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto has to work with this winter, although he has managed to clear a significant amount of salary and he expects the payroll to increase in 2024 (per Adam Jude of the Seattle Times). It’s also hard to guess what trade chips the Mariners will be willing to part with. Entering the offseason, it seemed almost inevitable that they would trade one of their young starting pitchers to improve the offense. However, after sending Marco Gonzales to Atlanta as part of the Kelenic trade, Seattle has less of a logjam in the rotation, and Dipoto says the chances of the team trading another pitcher are “less likely” than they were before (per Jude).
That said, if the Mariners are serious about trading for Arozarena, Paredes, or another middle-of-the-order bat, they’ll need to make a pretty sweet offer, and luckily they still have an abundance of arms to deal from. Luis Castillo, George Kirby, Logan Gilbert, Bryan Woo, and Bryce Miller would make a strong starting five to open the season, but eventually Robbie Ray will return from Tommy John rehab and Emerson Hancock will force his way back to the majors. Too much pitching depth is never a bad thing, yet the Mariners might be wise to trade from an area of strength to bolster their depleted lineup.