Mariners Insight

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The 2022 Free Agents and what makes sense for Seattle

Part IV: The Free Agents

The Mariners greatest needs, aligned with the meat of the 2022 free agent class, reside in the infield. Specifically, at second, short and third.

Now, this by no means exiles Crawford or Moore from the team’s long-term plans, they are simply flexible puzzle pieces. Crawford could easily shift to second base if need be, and Moore, who can play every position but catcher, will likely serve in a Ben Zobrist/Chris Taylor type of utility role long term, as long as his offensive production continues.

Alright, we’ve waited long enough. Let’s dive deep these juggernaut infielders, and who could make the most sense for Seattle.

Hot Names but Cold Feet

Carlos Correa – Shortstop, Houston Astros

Correa will be uniquely young when he hits the market, set to enter just his age 27 season in 2022. But there are a couple reasons the return on investment with this one has a better than average chance to be deemed unsatisfactory. First and foremost, Correa has done an A+ job burning bridges with a majority of Major League Baseball over the last year. Not just for the sign-stealing scandal Houston was found guilty of, but how he more than anyone else was so outspokenly unapologetic about it.

Pair that with poor offensive seasons in two of the last three years and an inability to stay on the field due to several injuries he’s accrued, playing over 110 games just once in six years, this probably isn’t the smartest place that sizable free agent dollars could go.

Salvador Perez – Catcher, Kansas City Royals

I ended up throwing one catcher into the pot. Placing Perez in this category is not at all a knock on him as a player, as he has been one of the best catchers in the game for the last decade. His offensive numbers compared to the rest of his position group actually stack up fairly well, especially after what he produced coming off Tommy John surgery in a shortened 2020 (though only in 37 games). But for the money Perez will likely ask for correlated with his offense compared to the rest of the marquee free agents and the Mariners current outlook at catcher, his name would likely be further down on their list of needs.

A Man Can Dream, Right?

Nolan Arenado – Third Base, St. Louis Cardinals

This one is 99.9% not happening. We would all love to wish upon a star and make it happen, but it isn’t.

The future Hall of Famer was recently traded to the St. Louis Cardinals from the Colorado Rockies (I could write a whole blog post about this disaster), and he was traded despite having a no-trade clause in his contract that was eventually waived (in other words, he was more than happy to join St. Louis). He has an opt out in his deal next winter, but it is unlikely he leaves a place he seems ecstatic to call home after only one year, calculated with the money left for him on the table and being placed in a division where the Cardinals’ surrounding competition is subpar to say the least.

Had he still been in Colorado and opted out after another full year with the Rockies, which many expected he would do hence why the trade was made, I would have said Nolan coming to Seattle was possible. But after this trade, that idea is pretty much dead.

Freddie Freeman – First Baseman, Atlanta Braves

This one is more likely than Arenado, but the chances are still extremely low by all measures. With the Mariners having given White a six-year, $24 million deal before he ever reached the majors, they signaled that they fully expect him to be their everyday first baseman for the foreseeable future. White is not only the best defensive first baseman in the game but was about as safe of an offensive prospect as one could find through his time the minor leagues, hitting for a quality balance of average and power while limiting strikeouts. 2020 does not accurately reflect his offensive outlook and the Mariners front office believes he will surely put those woes behind him moving forward.

That being said, if White really does not make any strides in 2021, Seattle may decide to kick the tires on the reigning MVP. Freeman has been a consistent superstar throughout his career, posting a career .892 OPS and has continued to get better with age. This past year he led the league in doubles (23), hit a whopping .341 and totaled 37 extra-base hits, all in just a 60-game span. He will be 32 years old in 2022.

Possible but Less Likely

Francisco Lindor – Shortstop, New York Mets

Lindor has possibly been the best shortstop in baseball over the last five years. After averaging 6-win seasons (per WAR) from 2016-2019 along with a pair of silver sluggers, two gold gloves and combined for 24 Defensive Runs Saved in 2018 and 2019, the former Indians shortstop was shipped to New York for a package of young players in return. Lindor has one year remaining on his contract before he hits free agency.

It is possible that Lindor plays out the year, reaches free agency, and Seattle makes him an offer he can’t refuse, subsequently moving Crawford to second base. But many assume the Mets made this trade with full intention of locking up Lindor to a lengthy extension before the 2021 season is up, therefore ending his bidding war before it begins.

Jose Ramirez – Third Baseman, Cleveland Indians

His situation is really a bummer. Were he a true free agent in 2022, he’d be the golden star at the top of my wish list, no question about it. There is not a more underrated and underappreciated superstar in the baseball. If you asked a casual baseball fan “who is the best player on the Indians?” (pre-Mets trade) their answer would likely be Lindor. But Ramirez has finished top three in AL MVP voting three of the last four seasons and is a more productive player than Lindor in almost every offensive category across the board. Yet it feels like you never hear nearly enough about him on a national level.

If you pull up a list of MLB’s 2022 free agents, Ramirez’s name will appear. But if you dig deeper, he has two years of club options remaining at the end of 2021, which the Indians will almost surely pick up. Maybe there’s some outside chance that he finds a way out of it? But unlikely. Maybe the M’s trade for him, cutting ties with a couple high-end prospects to acquire a proven difference maker like the Padres have done? Possible, but the Indians have currently made him unavailable.

(By the way, before we move on from Jose, I just have to say this: his contract is absolutely criminal. Highway robbery. He’s on a four-year, $26 million dollar deal! Sure, he was a fairly unproven 23-year-old when he signed it but looking now I just can’t get over that. Even with the two club options, that will come out to six-years, $52 million. Unreal.)

Lock it In

Trevor Story – Shortstop, Colorado Rockies

With Arenado and Ramirez being long shots, Story is the top player I would like to see Seattle land come next offseason. Story is a true five-tool player. He’s saved 45 runs in his first five big league seasons, posted an OPS north of .900 three times in five tries, had back-to-back 35 home run campaigns in 2018 and 2019, and swiped 50 bags in that time as well. His 2020 was on pace for more of the same.

The one question mark on Story is the same that every Rockies player gets burdened with: the “away from Coors Field” factor. With Story, that concern isn’t unwarranted. He’s posted a .304/.370/.624 career slash line at home in Colorado. On the road? .250/.315/.445. For reference, Arenado’s career home line is .322/.376/.609 compared to a .263/.322/.471 road line.

But the elite players usually shake this. One might need a bucket and some Tums when looking at Lemahieu’s career road numbers, especially with the Rockies, but that hasn’t stood in his way of cementing himself as one of the best players in baseball since joining the Yankees. Story, more than likely will also follow suit.

Like I mentioned above, the Rockies are not in a position to win, are not getting better anytime soon, and just showed the door to their best player (although, there’s a real case for Story when it comes to this topic). His future in the mile-high city looks bleak, and his services may very well be in a new climate come 2022. Seems like an obvious fit for the Mariners.

Corey Seager – Shortstop, Los Angeles Dodgers

Seager was in the elite category for his position right when he hit the big leagues, winning 2017 NL Rookie of the Year and making back-to-back All-Star Games. He missed almost all of 2018 due to Tommy John surgery but picked up right where he left off upon return. In 2020 he put up his best statistical season to date, on pace for a career year had it not been for a shortened season. He was also the best player in the postseason not named Randy Arozarena, and offensively anchored the Dodgers to a world championship. Seager collected 22 hits over that span, putting up a .328 clip with eight home runs and earned World Series MVP honors.

The Dodgers will surely want to keep him. But after signing Bauer, giving Mookie Betts a 13-year extension, and having to juggle how to try and retain Clayton Kershaw (we’ll get to him later), along with Cody Bellinger and Walker Buehler down the road, the team with baseball’s highest payroll will have some tough decisions to make.

This young M’s ballclub could certainly use someone with postseason experience, let alone proven success when getting there. His brother Kyle (you may have heard of him) will also be a free agent, but if the Mariners can bring back Kyle for a lesser price to play a smaller role, who does own house in the Seattle area, this could be one enticing sales pitch to lure his younger brother and pair the two up as teammates.

Javier Baez – Infielder, Chicago Cubs

Javy Baez has flash, he has swag, he has charisma, and best of all, he has star power. His resume across 2018 and 2019 is a laundry list. Baez smashed over 150 extra-base hits, 63 homers, and came just shy 200 RBI in that time, while placing as the MVP runner-up to Christian Yelich in 2018. Better yet, his defense has soared in the last two seasons. Since primarily settling down at shortstop, he reeled in an eye-popping 34 Defensive Runs Saved combined over 2019 and 2020 and just received a Gold Glove in November.

The only hesitation on Baez is his bat in 2020 was far from the mean. He hit just .203 and never found any rhythm in the pandemic-ridden season. When his career began, he took a little longer than some expected to attain a dominant playing level, but 2020 looked like his rookie year back in 2014 where he was plain lost.

This was probably just a fluke year and a blip on the radar for Baez, but let’s keep a close eye on his 2021 campaign. If he returns to form, there’s no reason for the Mariners to not have heavy interest. A power hitting sub-30-year-old who has ability to play three infield spots.

Kris Bryant – Third Baseman, Chicago Cubs

When Kris Bryant is healthy, he’s one of the game’s best. But injuries have caused him to miss over 100 games in the last three years, including 60 games in 2018 and nearly half of 2020. Still, he had an All-Star season in 2019 with 30 long balls and a .901 OPS, and his 2018 wasn’t awful either, it just wasn’t quite Kris Bryant-esque. He, like Baez, will also be a player to keep tabs on this upcoming year after a disappointing 2020 in which he hit .206 in 34 games.

This one is undoubtedly fascinating, not just because of who Bryant is as a player, but it fits a direct need as opposed to signing one of the shortstops and finding a new position for Crawford. Third base will be wide open after 2021, and even if Kyle Seager is retained (hopefully playing a potential hand in the Corey Seager recruiting project), his volume could easily be decreased to allow Bryant to be the everyday third baseman. Seager has the ability to play some second base if needed, plus he could still take on some of the defensive load at third to allow Bryant a healthy time share at DH (defense is not his strongest tool).

If Bryant does begin crushing baseballs into different area codes again in 2021 with that cool, effortless right-handed flick of the wrists, his price tag will not come at a discount. He is managed by baseball super-agent Scott Boras, who almost never lets his clients settle, no matter what or how long it takes. Just ask Gerrit Cole and his nine-year, $324 million record setting deal in the Bronx, or Bryce Harper and his near-lifetime 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies, among hundreds of others across the sport. But let’s reiterate this again. The M’s payroll is unusually low, and they are anything but an organization short on cash. They can make it happen if they choose to.

Pitchers

I promised I would get to this, so here we are. This is where things could get a little tricky, with the pandemic throwing a wrench into Seattle’s timeline, as it did everyone. Had it been a normal 2020, the Mariners would currently have a firm grasp on the progress of highly touted right-handers Emerson Hancock and George Kirby in addition to a few other young arms. But it didn’t, so as a result Kirby’s hurled than 25 innings in pro ball, Hancock has yet to hit a mound in a live game, and neither got much work over the summer at the alternate training site.

If they both take a similar path that Gilbert did and skyrocket through three minor league levels in one season, which isn’t the norm, they still may not be fully ready for 2022. Even if they are, that’s a heavy load the club would potentially ask of three very young starters along with a staff that has seen a combined zero postseason innings.

But don’t misconstrue it. I’m not suggesting they should spend heavily on multiple arms, a few years down the road they may have a fearsome rotation all consisting of homegrown talent, something that is practically foreign to Mariners fans. I’m not even suggesting throwing a colossal deal at one single starter. I personally think that can often lead to meager results and an avalanche of dead coin. Not to the same extent as throwing the bank account at a running back in the NFL, but there are more examples of extensive contracts given to starting pitchers that end up like Jordan Zimmerman than there are Max Scherzer.

Where does that lead us? Right back to the wowing free agent class. If Seattle follows the blueprint above to stick with their up-and-coming arms long term, they will not exercise the ideas of Noah Syndergaard or Eduardo Rodriguez, two younger free agents who have battled recent injuries. But there are some desirable veterans that could fit the bill for a shorter type of deal to help the M’s win in 2022. In fact, they are three guys who could be looking for an additional checkpoint on their trains en route to Cooperstown.

Max Scherzer – Right-Hander, Washington Nationals

Justin Verlander – Right-Hander, Houston Astros

Clayton Kershaw – Left-Hander, Los Angeles Dodgers

Let’s put these three all into the same category, because they are all built on the same idea: first ballot Hall of Famers who have won rings, played crucial roles in doing so, but are starting to have their careers wind down (that’s at least the case with Scherzer and Verlander, Kershaw may still have a few prime years left). But that doesn’t mean they have no juice left either.

Kershaw is the least likely fit for Seattle. He will be 35 in 2022 and could seek out to get one final substantial payday in his next contract, plus he may never undress the Dodger uniform. But Scherzer and Verlander could make some sense. Entering their ages 37 and 39 seasons in 2022, respectively, a one or two-year deal where they serve as the team’s No. 2 or 3 in the rotation could give the M’s the jolt they need while helping the young arms gear toward competitive postseason play.

Verlander will likely miss all of 2021 with Tommy John surgery and could ultimately contemplate retirement, but his statements on the matter suggest against that with hopes to continue his career. Scherzer’s 2020 season appeared that father time may be starting to get the better of him for the first time, and when you add in his injuries in 2019 it does make you wonder. His upcoming year’s results will be a somewhat clear indicator of what he can still bring to an organization when he hits free agency. To compete in 2022, there is a high possibility of the Mariners being in need of an additional starting pitcher before Hancock and Kirby’s arrival. Jerry Dipoto and company certainly shouldn’t rule out the idea of a partnership with these all-time greats.

Wrap-Up

Did it take awhile to read through all those names? If so, the message got through: there will be an abundance of riches available come 2022. There are no slim pickings. Believe it or not, there’s a ton of names that there wasn’t enough time to touch on, and in a more normal offseason they would be some of the headlines (see here for full free agent list).

Maybe to Mariners fans this seems like nothing more than wishful thinking and perhaps some of you reading this believe all of these ideas are nothing more than next year’s versions of Bauer, that in the end they’ll never land here. Let me ask you this: did you ever think Seattle would land Robinson Cano?

If you’re anything like me and your answer at the time was no, let me remind you that the 2014 Mariners had chump change on their roster compared to the current Mariners. Having players to surround Cano in the lineup similar to Kelenic or Lewis would have been laughable to wish for, people back then were holding their breath that Kendrys Morales would re-sign to “help Cano spark the offense”. The 2021 ballclub taking steps forward and finishing above .500 certainly helps the cause. But above all, money talks. If the Mariners want it to happen, they can make it happen.

What should happen is two of these infielders landing in Seattle. At least one of these names is a must, but if the organization is serious about finally putting their on-field product over the top and into title contention, there is no reason they shouldn’t be aggressive and bring in two substantial ballplayers. If they don’t, there will be nobody to blame but themselves. It isn’t a payroll issue.

Sure, there are a couple of notable free agent infielders in the 2023 free agent class such as catcher Willson Contreras, first baseman Jose Abreu and shortstop Trea Turner, but that’s nowhere near the quality or quantity of 2022.

As mentioned before, Dipoto has made a splash in free agency during his career by signing multiple game-changing players. But Anaheim never had a dense farm system that translated to impactful MLB talent outside of some guy named Trout. And more often than not a team can’t only buy its way to a ring. When a franchise possesses thoroughly developed homegrown players mixed in with some outstanding veterans via trade or free agency, that’s when you’ve got something, as evident from almost every World Series winner.

And guess what? There’s a changing of the guard. Not just in the AL West, but the entire American League. The Mariners front office saw this coming too, which is not only why they underwent a rebuild, but they targeted it for this very window. Houston is on its last leg with Verlander, Greinke and Correa out the door at the end of this year and that’s after losing George Springer to Toronto. Oakland’s roster was gutted this offseason, and sooner or later their budget will force them to move on from the AL’s most dangerous corner infield duo of Matt Chapman and Matt Olson. The Angels and Rangers can’t seem to figure out much of anything these days, with the Halos continuing to never fix their rotation. And the top-heavy league that for years featured New York, Houston, Cleveland and Boston with significant separation is now a memory, at least with three of those four (the Yankees are still a threat).

So enough playing around. The team has money. The young major league group has a high ceiling, they’re hungry and they’re motivated. The 2022 free agent class is jaw-dropping (there’s your 5,000+ word article wrapped up in three short sentences). This is their golden opportunity, one they’ve been waiting on for nearly a quarter century. They don’t just need to capitalize, they simply can’t afford not to.

Don’t undersell it: 2022 may be the most crucial offseason in Mariners history

It’s the first slow week in sports in a long time with football ending. Pacific Northwest winters are pretty gloomy, infested with 40-degree days and cold rain. And there’s still a worldwide pandemic.

Naturally, I sit here a little bored. The only sports news to gobble up is Tom Brady embodying every Arizona State stereotype to the fullest during the Buccaneers Super Bowl parade. Oh, and Russell Wilson creating national headlines by being assertive and candidly speaking his mind for the first time in his career, having to take matters into his own hands and state something that the organization should have fixed years ago instead of completely shrugging off their Hall of Fame quarterback getting mauled 40+ times a season for eight years running. That was of course followed up with the front office led by his stubborn, power-hungry head coach complaining that they didn’t appreciate him speaking publicly about it. Seems to all be going great!

“Sir, this a Wendy’s”.

Well, it’s actually a Mariners related article. But yes, let me stop my 12’s rant in its tracks and shift over to the diamond. I’m about to go down a rabbit hole anyway, and I promise it’s detailed, analytical and well-thought-out. It’s just not the one taking place next door at Lumen Field.

With MLB free agency heating up over the last week, I find myself doing some heavy thinking.

Okay, “thinking” is putting it lightly. I definitely had my blood pressure rise watching the rich get richer, as 2020 Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer signed with the reigning world champion Dodgers, and outfielder Marcell Ozuna re-signed with the Braves for less than his value, along with a handful of other offseason transactions. Not so much because there was any real expectation that players of that magnitude would currently land in a place like Seattle, as it is desperately wishing that the Mariners were in a place to make these types of acquisitions, growing more and more tired of watching their infamous postseason drought find itself less than two years away from legal drinking age. Not only have they fallen short of being true contenders over that time span, but they haven’t even come close, something that not many other teams can empathize with.

That aforementioned 21-year period will arrive in October of 2022, shortly after arguably the most lethal free agent class of all time will have graduated. And when it gets here, one thing is for certain: The Mariners need to be positioned to be the life of the party in the middle of the dance floor, not timidly trying to fit into one square of it. Because the truth is:

 2022 may be the most important offseason that the Mariners have ever had.

Do you think I’m looking too far ahead? That I want to dwell on possible scenarios that won’t even occur until another full season has concluded? Okay, okay, fair enough. I’ll quickly pause on 2022 and circle back to it in a minute, but I promise it can’t be overstated. For now, let’s harp on 2021. It will help set the tone anyway.

Part I: 2021 Outlook

It could be easy to scoff at what GM Jerry Dipoto has brought in during an unusually quiet offseason for his standards. His only moves to this point have been trading for Rafael Montero, a hard throwing 30-year-old reliever who had one good year out of the bullpen in 2019, signing reliever Keynan Middleton, who has thrown less than 20 innings in the last two years, and inking right-handed starter Chris Flexen, who spent three seasons playing in Korea after posting a career 8.07 ERA and an astonishing -2.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in 68 innings over three seasons with the Mets. To put this in simple terms for you non-baseball/sabermetric nerds, if Flexen had never appeared in a single game over his three seasons, the Mets would have more than two additional victories in their win column than what they actually accumulated. That is abnormal, and not in a good way.

Having said that, there are reasons for this tactic, like it or not. The M’s are right in the thick of a significant rebuild that began at the conclusion of the 2018 season, and to this point, it’s gone about as well as expected (if not better). They have six players ranked inside MLB’s Top 100 prospects list (seven if you include Noelvi Marte, who is ranked 73rd on Baseball America’s list), along with two in the Top 5 in potential superstars Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez. They have the reigning AL Rookie of the Year (Kyle Lewis), 2020’s top rookie starting pitcher (Justus Sheffield), and two gold glove winners (Evan White and J.P. Crawford). All of them are continuing to get better, and to this point the M’s have not run into any type of Lewis Brinson swing-and-a-miss fiasco like the one Miami dug themselves into. There is a foundation being set, and it is expected to take another big step in 2021 with the likes of Kelenic and right-hander Logan Gilbert all but set to make their debuts.

It has been echoed loud and clear by the coaching staff and front office that 2021 will be used to let this young core really grow and develop together. To let Lewis, White and Crawford get a full 162 game slate under their belts. To let Dylan Moore, who led the club over 2020 in WAR despite playing in less games than Lewis, get a full season of at-bats. To allow Sheffield to rack up 25-30 starts. To let Mitch Haniger get back on the field and find his stride again (yeah, remember him? The Mariners best player in 2018-19 before injury?). And to let the next wave of young M’s like Kelenic and Gilbert come up and get acclimated to the majors (although if Kelenic were asked, he wouldn’t hesitate to speak up and say that he’s going to do a whole lot more than “get acclimated”).

Rationally, regardless of how badly myself or Mariners fans may have wanted to see players like Bauer or DJ LeMahieu take their talents to T-Mobile Park, this is probably what’s best for this group in 2021, and that development can’t happen if certain guys are boxed out by a veteran free agent. In a proper rebuild, a team needs to first see what’s in their hand before they go fish.

And to be honest, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be another losing year either. In fact, this is the most excited I’ve been for the start of a Mariners season since 2015, even though those results didn’t exactly go as planned. This young group can easily find themselves in wild card contention come September. Heck, last year they were fighting for the final AL Wild Card spot despite a sub-.500 record. Even with the postseason format going back to the standard ten teams (five per league), there is almost no doubt the 2021 Mariners should be significantly better, with additional electric players, creating further excitement.

But let me restate what I said above. This strategy is what is best for the team in 2021. After that? It’s a whole new ballgame.

Part II: 2022 Positives and Negatives

If one were to form a lineup, strictly in house, of what the Mariners will look like in early 2022, it will likely resemble something close to this:

Catcher: Cal Raleigh/Tom Murphy

First Base: Evan White

Second Base: Dylan Moore

Shortstop: J.P. Crawford

Third Base: Ty France

Left Field: Jarred Kelenic

Center Field: Kyle Lewis/Taylor Trammell

Right Field: Julio Rodriguez

Designated Hitter: Mitch Haniger

Starting Pitchers: Marco Gonzales, Logan Gilbert, Justus Sheffield, Yusei Kikuchi, Justin Dunn

Looking at the projected lineup, it’s highly unlikely that the Mariners will be in need of outside help in the outfield anytime soon, so that area can pretty much be crossed off. Catcher and first base may not be one hundred percent out of the question, especially if Evan White repeats the offensive season he put up in 2020, although that’s highly unlikely. Starting pitching? That’s certainly a topic of its own, so let’s circle back to that later.

But not too shabby, right? It’s certainly something one can get excited about. But to compete for an AL pennant and chase a World Series ring, it’s not nearly strong enough when you line it up with the real contenders.

Additionally, none of these players are locked into large contracts outside of Kikuchi, with the majority on rookie deals. Entering 2021, Seattle has the 6th lowest payroll in the game. And when third baseman Kyle Seager’s 7-year, $100 million contract expires at the end of 2021, their payroll will drop even further. In other words, they have plenty of money to spend, and spend big.

Part III: Easier Said Than Done

There are plenty of hoops to jump through in order to execute bringing cornerstone players to Seattle, and a lot of it is out of the hands of the 2021 roster’s ability to win games and continue to show an upward trend that could eventually attract these free agents.

To begin, Dipoto will need to be granted the passcode to the vault. Just because the Mariners ownership holds enough money to fill a manmade lake doesn’t mean they will choose to distribute it.

This has been a problem across the entire league during the 2021 offseason. Organizations and their penny-pinching tactics reigning supreme, which is one of the main reasons a vast number of free agents still remain unsigned this late in the process. Some teams have opted to trade away stars and some have refrained from spending money to make money. Part of this is due to each team losing millions from the pandemic, but the current push for a 16-team playoff field going forward would give clubs a scapegoat to not spend money and just say “hey, we got in. We’ll sell some playoff tickets. That’s enough”.

Seattle’s ownership has certainly shown little interest in handing out checks over the last few years. Some of that is due to the rebuild process, but some wonder if they will continue to not invest in a championship level roster and let the young core on cheap rookie contracts push them just far enough to get into the postseason, only to be handed early exits.

If this is what occurs, there may be no answer for what the solution is. Because in that scenario Seattle and their long-term outlook would be no different than that of Oakland, Tampa and Cleveland, with the only difference being the Mariners choosing not to spend when the three teams mentioned above do not have the option to spend as low-budget, small market clubs. This hypothetical strategy may lose them a nice chunk of fans, because as we’ve seen with the small-market teams, it is really hard to win in October on such a low payroll even if they reached the postseason field. They take that approach and miss out on all of these free agents despite being a high revenue franchise? I can’t imagine that would sit too well.

Then there’s the whole debacle of the lockout that, barring a miracle new CBA agreement between the MLB player’s association and Major League Baseball, will take place for the foreseeable future at the conclusion of 2021. If that does happen, teams are prohibited from negotiating with free agents until the lockout concludes, which would give the Mariners even less time to try and sell themselves to the guys on their radar.

If you’re hoping the CBA will get resolved, let me be clear on this: the two sides are not close. They’re not on the same continent. The MLBPA is in the United States while MLB is in Australia, and both would have to tread thousands of miles of ocean water to meet at a midpoint. The two sides are going back and forth about a universal DH, the playoff format and a handful of other rules like they’re an old married couple. Just the Mariners luck, right? A looming prolonged lockout right when they’re supposed to turn the corner.

Finally, even after all of that is resolved (because eventually it will, it’s a matter of how soon), a lot of pressure will be on the front office to have effective sales pitches to win some bidding wars with the free agents, something they have not had much experience in during their regime. Dipoto has a 2-1 record in this category in his career. He won the Albert Pujols sweepstakes and landed lefty C.J. Wilson, fresh off a sixth place Cy Young finish, in the same 2012 offseason when he was the GM of the Angels. But Dipoto fell short in the Shohei Ohtani battle in the 2018 offseason, losing out to his former employers.

Sure, those circumstances were a little different, and to this point Ohtani has not been the all-world two-way sensation many expected him to be coming over from Japan. But the point here is that Dipoto has not had a lot of work experience in this particular field and especially not during his time in the Pacific Northwest. There is a skill to it, and with COVID protocols up in the air for next offseason it is unknown if the Mariners will even get the chance to meet these players face-to-face on a visit, making the process that much more difficult. We can only hope they’re planning ahead.

Now… here’s where the hypotheticals become fun. If they turn to an aggressive approach and are ready to spend ten months from now, there’s certainly going to be some shiny vehicles staring them in the face (see next article for the free agent players breakdown).

Mariners Insight Podcast September 19, 2017

Clock Has Finally Struck Midnight on the Mariners

The Mariners have been off and on all season.

There have been times during the year where they seemed destined for a postseason run, and other moments where they shouldn’t be affiliated with any talks of October. But it has finally reached the tipping point.

After Wednesday night’s loss, where the team surrendered just two hits throughout the course of the game, they have fallen below .500 yet again. They are currently sitting at 69-70, having lost seven of their last 10, and two in a row to the Houston Astros. These were games that they needed to take advantage of with the Minnesota Twins, who have possessed the second wild card spot for the last few weeks, having lost their last three contests.

The M’s still sit just three games back in the AL wild card race, but they are behind five other teams (Angels, Twins, Orioles, Rangers, Rays) and are a downward trend at the wrong time. The offense has no consistency and is incapable of putting up crooked numbers against top-quality opponents. They scored just six runs in three games against the Yankees, and have so far pushed across three runs in two games against the Astros. Nelson Cruz, who was at one point looking like a potential MVP candidate, has not had a multi-hit game since August 19th. Cano has been hot as of late, but hasn’t been able to keep it up for an extended period of time. More of the same goes for Kyle Seager and Mike Zunino.

On the other side of the ball, pitching has continued to haunt Seattle. Despite Ariel Miranda’s nice performance in his latest outing, it was the first quality start he had put together since July 28. He hasn’t tossed over six frames since June 30. Erasmo Ramirez has been a shot in the arm for the ballclub over his last few starts, but there isn’t support enough behind him. Scott Servais finally called it quits on the Yovani Gallardo project, as the veteran right-hander has been reassigned to a bullpen role. Andrew Albers has been mediocre, but nothing special.

Felix Hernandez and James Paxton are close to returning, but Servais said they won’t be able to be stretched out in their starts. In other words, they will only have the capacity to hurl four or five innings max.

The bullpen has been heavily taxed this year, as we all know. But despite that, injuries have caught up to them too. David Phelps and Tony Zych won’t return in 2017, James Pazos has hit a wall during the second half of the season, and plain and simple: these guys are fatigued.

Hats off to Servais and Jerry Dipoto for keeping the team glued together with every scrap piece they have in their armory for such an extensive period of time. But the wheels have finally fallen off. Mathematically, the team still has a shot. But being under .500 in the month of September doesn’t usually translate to a playoff appearance.

If they want to make one last push, they are in desperate need of a prolonged winning streak. But with the remains the Mariners have left, is it likely?

I’ll put it this way: The Seattle Mariners need a miracle.

Podcast 8-27: M’s Look to Wrap Up Long Road Series on a High Note

The Mariners Ended July on a Great Note: But Where do they Turn From Here?

July has now come and gone for the Seattle Mariners, but the team’s action and transactions haven’t exactly been laid back. From Jerry Dipoto wheeling and dealing per usual, to Robinson Cano hitting the go ahead homer and winning MVP in the All-Star Game, the M’s have had a lot on their plate.

They finished the month with an even 13-13 record, and are currently sitting one game over .500 at 54-53 after winning two of three in Texas to start the month of August.

In July, there was much positive and a fair portion of negative to take away (but hey, that the M’s for you). They did not get off to a hot start, getting swept at home by the Royals and only splitting a home series with the AL-worst Oakland Athletics. Two of those six losses were due to blown opportunities by the bullpen. Seattle sat at a gloomy 41-46 at the end of the Royals series.

The pitching staff that had been loosely glued together for most of the first half looked as if it was starting to come undone, with the exception of James Paxton, who was finally starting to find his early season form when July rolled around. Ariel Miranda started to get hit hard. Sam Gaviglio couldn’t work himself out of big jams and minimize damage the way he had been doing through his first handful of starts. Felix Hernandez was just starting to work his way back after recovering from shoulder bursitis, and there was much question as to whether he could still be effective.

But after the All Star Break, the Mariners started to kick it into high gear. They went on to win four of their final five series for the month, including a sweep on the road against the White Sox. Nelson Cruz went back to hitting home runs in bunches after going a month without one. Felix started to find his groove again. Ben Gamel and Jean Segura continued to stay atop the American League in batting average, and the pieces started to fall into place.

Jerry Dipoto saw this as an opportunity to be somewhat of a buyer at the trade deadline. He acquired David Phelps, an effective inning eating, hard throwing right hander from the Marlins. Phelps has given them a sturdy 7th inning reliever to pave the bridge between the starter, and the ever-dependable Nick Vincent and Edwin Diaz at the back end of the bullpen. Since 2016, only 14 relievers have thrown over 100 innings while posting an ERA below 2.70. One of them being David Phelps, who among those 14, is 5th in strikeouts in the last two seasons.

He also traded for Erasmo Ramirez to come back to Seattle and be a back-end starter for the club, with the team still lacking starting pitching. Ramirez was very disappointing in his first stint with the Mariners, but had an ERA under 4 in two seasons as a starter with the Rays. While his 2017 campaign hasn’t been phenomenal, with him posting a 4.80 ERA while splitting time as a starter and long reliever in Tampa, he will look to turn things back around in his reunion in the Pacific Northwest.
But the most substantial trade: one that didn’t even involve Major League caliber players. The Mariners traded minor league outfielder Tyler O’Neill in exchange for left handed starter Marco Gonzales from the Cardinals, who is a former first round pick.

O’Neill was the Mariners number two prospect, is just 22 years old, and has power that has been compared to Yankees rookie sensation Aaron Judge (per Fangraphs). While that comparison may be stretching it a little bit, a fair share of Seattle was not happy to see him depart, with many expecting him to be a 30 homer type of player down the road.

The hope is that Gonzales can be a cornerstone of the pitching staff in the near future, as he is a guy who has Major League experience as a starter, and also has five years of club control in his contract. But Gonzales is coming off Tommy John surgery from 2016 and the injury prone side of his arsenal is a worry. Nevertheless, Dipoto has said that Gonzales will likely be up with the club in the next few weeks.

For now, the pitching staff consists of James Paxton, Felix Hernandez, Ariel Miranda, Yovani Gallardo, and Erasmo Ramirez. Andrew Moore and Sam Gaviglio were sent back to Tacoma.

In Dipoto’s eyes, the pieces are in place. But will it be enough? The bullpen is currently the best in baseball, and as a whole had a fantastic month of July, ranking 1st in baseball in bullpen ERA.  I personally feel that they are one solid starter short, but there was not much the team could do with the top-of-the-line pitchers on the market, such as Sonny Gray and Yu Darvish, being too expensive. At the very least, it would have cost the Mariners their top prospect in outfielder Kyle Lewis, who has potential to be a perennial All Star once he is MLB ready. However, more likely than not, more would have had to be coughed up with Lewis due to the asking price of those pitchers by their respective teams.

From August and on, this is the hand we’ve been dealt. This is the team. It won’t change drastically in the next two months. But that’s not to say they can’t make a run. As I mentioned, 1.5 games is well within striking distance, and with a four game series this weekend against the Royals, who currently hold the second Wild Card spot, it is very possible that Seattle will make up more ground.

But the consistency factor has to stay put. They been very consistent since coming out of the break, but they can’t afford to have another losing streak, or frankly, go below .500 again. Time is not on their side. The season is winding down. They have to continue to trend upward if they look to end the season with a Wild Card berth, and a key factor will be the Royals series. It could end up being the most important series of the season.

Until the late afternoon on October 1st, we as fans can do nothing but sit back, watch the games, and pray that the 16-year playoff drought comes to an end.

Player of the Month: While two Mariners racked up awards, I don’t think there is anyone more deserving on the team, or in the league than James Paxton. Paxton won AL pitcher of the month and became the first Mariner in franchise history to win 6 games in a month, all while posting a 1.37 ERA, while striking out 44 batters in those six starts, and walking just six. Opponents hit just .182 off him. Honorable mention goes to Edwin Diaz, who won AL reliever of the month, grasping 8 saves while putting up a 1.98 ERA and 21 strikeouts in July. He has bounced back beautifully since regaining the closer role.

June Comes to a Close, Seattle One Game Under .500 After Solid Month

With the Mariners finally surpassing the .500 mark at home against the Houston Astros last week, things finally seemed to be looking up for the ballclub, especially with the Philadelphia Phillies coming to town, who possess MLB’s worst record at 27-53, and had just 10 road wins coming into the series. Along with that, the Mariners had their two best arms taking the mound in James Paxton and Felix Hernandez, who made his second start since coming off the disabled list with shoulder bursitis.

Nevertheless, a lack of offense and a hitch in the bullpen, particularly from closer Edwin Diaz, were the premier causes for the M’s suffering two home losses in the short series.

In game one the Mariners jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a two-run blast from Jean Segura, but it was all they would be able to push across. In fact, the team as a whole was only able to string together five hits. Two came from Segura, two came from Danny Valencia, and one came from Jarrod Dyson.

On the mound Paxton cruised through his first four innings, and looked as if he would finally revert back to the form that he had displayed through the first month of the season before landing on the DL with a strained forearm. But a two-run hiccup in the 5th and a mammoth home run from Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco in the 7th gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead, ending Paxton’s night at the end of seven.

Tony Zych and Edwin Diaz were unable to stop the bleeding in the 8th and 9th, as Zych gave up a run in the 8th and Diaz surrendered four runs in the 9th, failing to complete his full inning. The M’s dropped the game 8-2.

Then in game two, Felix gave his team another quality start, allowing three earned runs in six strong innings. The only real trouble he encountered was when Ty Kelly took him deep to right centerfield to put the Phillies on top 2-1. Regardless, he kept the M’s in the game and the offense gave him run support for his second consecutive start (something fans would never see in the pre-Robinson Cano era). Kyle Seager, Valencia, and Cano all contributed long balls and the M’s took a 4-3 lead heading into the 9th.

But Diaz struggled once again, giving up a solo bomb to Tommy Joseph to tie the game. He later walked a man, got issued a balk, and let up an RBI single to Andrew Knapp, which resulted in being the deciding run, and the M’s lost 5-4.

Struggles aside Scott Servais and Jerry Dipoto vowed to keep Diaz as the closer, and the team took a short break from their favorable home schedule to play a three-game series in Anaheim, hoping to turn around their luck once again.

Seattle dominated from every aspect in game one, as they won by a score of 10-0. Four homers were hit by the club, two from Cano, one from Seager, and one from Zunino, who finished the month with 31 RBI’s, just three short of breaking the franchise record for RBI’s in a month. Ariel Miranda was dominant on the hill, allowing no runs on two hits in his seven innings.

But as well as game one went, game two went the exact opposite. The Mariners had no answers for Ricky Nolasco, who despite his season struggles, seems to use the M’s as a healing medication. Nolasco tossed a complete game shutout, giving up just three hits. Although Sam Gaviglio was solid, going 6.1 innings while letting up three runs, he had no support on the offensive side of the ball. The Angels took the showdown 4-0.

But in the rubber match James Paxton finally did find his old form, going 6.1 innings while giving the Angels just one run to work with. Paxton had a perfect game going through the first 5.1 innings, but a soft liner by Danny Espinosa destroyed that hope in the bottom of the 6th. The Mariners collected enough runs to put them on top with the long ball taking center stage once again. Robbie Cano slingshot a three-run jack off the right field foul pole in the 8th to give the Mariners a 5-1 lead. Jean Segura provided the other two runs with an RBI single and RBI double on a 4 for 5 afternoon. Despite an offensive scare in the bottom of the 8th from the Halos, the M’s hung on to win 5-3. Edwin Diaz hurled the final 1.1 innings of the game to pick up the save, while also getting his team out of a jam in the 8th with two runners in scoring position.

Overall the Mariners had a 2-3 week as July now rolls in, finishing with a June record of 15-12. Their season record currently stands at 41-42. This is not the worst week they could have encountered, especially after getting swept by the Phillies at home in two games. They still managed to pick up a series win on the road against an Angels team that has played very good baseball up to this point.

Seattle now comes home for the week for a three-game stand against the Royals, followed by a four-game series against the A’s. Andrew Moore is expected to return to the big-league club and start on Monday. In Moore’s Major League debut, he went 7 innings while allowing three earned runs to the Tigers.

One injury update: Nelson Cruz exited Saturday’s game with knee soreness. He is day-to-day at this point, but is not expected to go on the DL. Cruz has not hit a home run since June 4th, a streak that marks the longest of his career. Regardless, he was selected on Sunday afternoon for his 5th career All Star Game.

Weekly MVP: After a much-needed monster week, Robinson Cano earns this week’s Player of the Week honors. Cano had seven hits in five games, including four homers and nine RBI’s. He now is hitting .284 on the year with 17 HR’s, along with a whopping 60 RBI’s, which is currently second in the American League, behind only Aaron Judge.

Mariners String Together Best Week of the Season, Still Being Plagued by Injuries

After a malicious 2-4 week on the east coast against two high powered offenses in the Nationals and Red Sox, the Mariners rallied off a fantastic 6-1 week, taking three of four from the first place Colorado Rockies, and later sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays at home.

They won the opener 6-5, getting out to an early 3-0 lead. Sam Gaviglio did not have his best outing, surrendering five runs in five innings, but the Mariners bullpen, who has quickly turned things around as of late, had his back. Using what was almost the entirety of their bullpen, six different M’s relievers threw the final four innings allowing no earned runs to pick up the W.

The M’s would take games two and three, winning by sufficient margins of 10-4 and 5-0. In the third game of the series, in which they returned home to Seattle after the prolonged road trip, James Paxton came off the DL, making his first start since May 2nd, and gave the M’s everything they had hoped for and more. Paxton threw 5.1 scoreless innings in his return, earning a standing ovation at Safeco Field.

They would drop the finale 6-3, therefore failing to sweep the Rockies, but the loss was the least of Seattle’s concerns. The injury bug simply won’t get out of the Mariners system. Nelson Cruz was drilled by a Kyle Freeland fastball in the right hand during the 3rd inning, and would later leave the game. He ended up being okay, with the MRI revealing no structural damage, but that wasn’t the case for Jean Segura.

Segura hurt himself sliding into second base while attempting to tag up on a fly ball and had to be helped off the field by the trainers. It was later discovered that Segura suffered a high ankle sprain, and is expected to miss about a month. The club called up rookie Tyler Smith to fill his void on the roster, but it will be Taylor Motter roaming at short for the time being.

When the Rays came into town on Friday, the Mariners put together what was their best weekend of the season, dominating from all three phases. They outscored Tampa 28-7 in the three games, pitching was outstanding, and the club didn’t commit an error all weekend. It was capped off on Sunday afternoon with a complete game from Ariel Miranda that was a sun triple away from being a complete game shutout. Miranda gave up just the one run along with four hits in his outing.

But the most intriguing takeaway from the series was the eye-popping display of offense from Mike Zunino and Danny Valencia.

As we know, Zunino hasn’t exactly been the Buster Posey-esque catcher that everybody had hoped for when the Mariners drafted him third overall back in 2012.  But this weekend he used all of the adjustments he made in Tacoma and applied them to his at-bats. He went 5 for 11 on the weekend with 10 RBI’s and a towering grand slam against Rays starter Alex Cobb on Saturday that was two rows from exiting Safeco Field. Zunino had 7 RBI’s in Saturday’s game alone and brought his season average up to .216, which currently sits as the highest of his career.

Meanwhile Valencia came into the weekend hitting .247 but finished at .283 after nine hits on the weekend, going 9 for 9 until his final at bat of Sunday’s game, which tied Raul Ibanez for a franchise record. He also had a homer and drove in six runs.

The M’s now sit at 28-30, just 2.5 games back of the second wild card. This team has been very streaky in the last couple of weeks. After going 1-7 and being outscored 50-9 in those contests, the Mariners turned it around and went 7-1 in their last eight games, outscoring opponents 57-22. They continue their longest homestand of the year this week when they will take on the Twins for a three game sweepstakes before the Blue Jays make the long trip to the Pacific Northwest for the weekend.

MVP: There are so many guys who are deserving of it in this incredible week, but this week’s goes to Danny Valencia, beating out Mike Zunino by a thread. As I mentioned, Valencia raised his average by 36 points during the weekend and by 30 points during the week. He also had 9 RBI’s on the week. The M’s are going to need him and Zunino to keep producing at the bottom of the lineup if they want to stay in the race.

Mariners Limping Back From Road Trip, Struggle North of the Border

In what was expected to be a somewhat soft road trip, despite the prolonged traveling, the week was anything but soft for the Mariners, who came up with a 2-4 week. After starting off the week hot, they came plummeting to earth when they were north of the border in Toronto.

The injuries continued for the Mariners pitching staff. Hisashi Iwakuma was placed on the 10 day DL with shoulder inflammation, and he is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. The Mariners then called up right hander Ryan Weber, who dominated in Tacoma, going 2-0 with an 0.85 ERA in 31.2 innings pitched. He then went on the DL with a bicep strain after lasting just 3.2 innings against the Blue Jays, in which he was effective until the injury, allowing just one run on three hits. Who will now be called up to replace him is unknown.

The M’s swept the Phillies in a two game stand at Citizens Bank Park in which they scored 21 runs in two games. In game one they trailed by four runs two different times in the game after a disastrous start from Ariel Miranda, in which he gave up 8 runs in 3.1 innings. But homers from Cano and Ben Gamel got them back in the game the first time. Later in the game a 6th inning rally which included a pinch-hit single from Nelson Cruz, along with doubles from Gamel in the 7th and Taylor Motter in the 9th secured them a 10-9 win.

In game two the M’s jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr tied it up with a three-run shot. But from then on it was uphill for Seattle. They scored five runs in the 7th and three in the 8th, led by a Carlos Ruiz three-run double against his former team and a homer from Danny Valencia. They would take game two 11-6.

But once they arrived in Toronto they were hit by a tidal wave of problems. The offense went silent, scoring just six runs in the four games, and the pitching staff was being attempted to get glued together by a plethora of Triple A starters. Chase De Jong and Christian Bergman both had rocky starts and Weber got injured in his, with the M’s dropping the first three games by scores of 7-2, 4-0, and 7-2. The one game they had an opportunity to gain some ground was the finale on Sunday afternoon when Ariel Miranda gave the Mariners five strong innings, allowing just one run. The Blue Jays took a 2-1 lead on a 6th inning home run from Justin Smoak (who tortured the Mariners all series as every former Mariners usually does). But Jarrod Dyson tied things up at 2 with a solo shot, in what was his first career home run away from Kauffman Stadium. However, Edwin Diaz once again struggled in a non-save situation, surrendering a walk off home run to centerfielder Kevin Pillar to give the Jays a series sweep.

This was an unbelievably tough weekend to swallow, with the M’s being unable to take a game from a team who has been one of the worst in baseball in the early going of this 2017 season. This upcoming home stand is crucial for the Mariner ballclub. If they want to stay in contention, they at least need to stay afloat. If they tank another week, they could find themselves in a hole that will be incredibly tough to get themselves out of. The A’s will come to town for a three-game sweepstakes before the White Sox come in for a four game weekend series.

MVP: My weekly MVP has to go to the man who makes up half of the Flow Bros in right fielder Ben Gamel. Gamel has been an incredible surprise for a team that is in much need of some production. He has filled in magnificently for the injured Mitch Haniger, hitting .318 on the year. He hit .333 this week along with a homer and 4 RBI’s from the Tuesday game. He will almost undoubtedly stay in the starting lineup when Haniger returns, along with Guillermo Heredia, making an all-rookie outfield with 3 youngsters who are all currently hitting above .300.

Mariners Get Back On Track, Near .500 Mark

When the M’s needed a big week against a couple of subpar ballclubs, they stepped up and got one. They finally improved to two games under .500 after a week’s play, after being 4 games under after the last two weeks concluded. They went 4-2 on the week, and came from behind in each series to get the series win.

The M’s opened up a week homestand starting Tuesday when the Angels came in town for a three game stand. In the opener James Paxton was on the hill and didn’t have his sharpest outing. He went 5.1 innings and allowed just one earned run, but walked five hitters and threw 105 pitches. The game went back and forth, and was deadlocked at 2-2 until Danny Valencia homered to left to make it 4-3. Kole Calhoun then sent one into the right field seats in the bottom of the 8th to make it 4-3 before Robbie hit a game tying single in the 9th. But when the game went to extras the Angels scored two runs in the 11th to put the game away. The M’s would lose 6-4.

In game two the Mariners jumped out to a 4-0 lead thanks to homers from Robinson Cano and Jean Segura and an RBI single from Nelson Cruz. But Hisashi Iwakuma and rookie Emilio Pagan combined for a disastrous sixth inning, as the Angels would score six runs in the sixth. The damage could have been much more substantial if not for a robbed home run, courtesy of Guillermo Heredia. But the M’s would come through in the 8th to take an 8-6 lead thanks to a game-tying double from Jarrod Dyson and a 2 RBI single from Jean Segura. Despite Kole Calhoun having Edwin Diaz’s number for the second night in a row when he hit a solo shot in the 9th, it was not enough for a comeback. The M’s would hang on for an 8-7 victory.

In the rubber match it was all Seattle. Ariel Miranda, who has turned into one of the most consistent arms on the Mariners staff, had another sturdy performance, going 7 innings, allowing just two earned runs on seven hits. On offense, the Mariners scored one in the 1st, three in the 3rd, two in the 4th, one in the 6th, one in the 7th, and thee in the 8th to take the game 11-3 and win their third straight home series.

On Friday the Rangers came into town for a weekend series. Game one turned out to be a major pitchers duel. Yovani Gallardo went 6 innings for the Mariners, allowing just one earned run on four hits, while Rangers ace Yu Darvish threw seven innings of one run ball, surrendering just six hits. The game was tied at 1 going into extras, with the only runs coming from a misplayed ball from Ben Gamel and a solo shot from Robbie Cano. After the M’s used seven relievers, with two of them getting injured in Jean Machi and Evan Marshall, Rougned Odor hit a two-run bomb in the top of the 13th and the M’s would lose 3-1 after failing to reciprocate in the bottom of the inning.

In Saturday’s game the Mariners dominated for a solid 8-2 win. Chase De Jong thrived in SafeCo going six innings, allowing just one run on a 428 foot homer to Joey Gallo. But the M’s exploded for seven runs in the 7th highlighted by singles from Danny Valencia, Taylor Motter, and Ben Gamel.

Sunday’s game consisted of toughness and grit out of the Mariners. Being down 3-0 in the 7th, they scored three runs in the bottom of the 7th on four walks and a 2 RBI single from Danny Valencia. Then in the 8th Kyle Seager hit his second homer of the year to give the M’s a 4-3. Edwin Diaz had no trouble in the 9th, sending the Rangers down 1, 2, 3 to give the M’s another series win at home and improve them to a 15-17 record.

The Mariners have now won four straight home series and have really made the best of their situation, given all of their injuries.

Speaking of injuries, one more crucial one was tacked on to their list this week. James Paxton was placed on the DL after straining his forearm. But he is expected to miss minimal time and be back during the next homestand, along with Felix and Mitch Haniger.

The Mariners will spend a week on the road as they travel to Philadelphia for a quick two game stand with the Phillies before heading north to Toronto for a four game series with the Blue Jays. This is another week that the M’s can and should definitely use to their advantage, playing two struggling teams. It is very plausible that they could finally bring their record above .500 by the end of the week.

MVP: This week’s MVP is a tie for the first time ever, as two players were both more than worthy. The first recipient has to go to Jean Segura. The guy really is a hitting machine. This week he hit .481 on the week, collecting a whopping 13 hits in six games, along with a homer and 5 RBI’s. He also had the RBI walk that gave the Mariners their first run on Sunday. The other is Danny Valencia, who is finally starting to come into his own, raising his average 46 points this week, along with two homers and clutch RBI singles on Saturday and Sunday in both of the Mariners big rallies.

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