The Seattle Mariners are expected to be active in the free agent and trade markets this off-season following their best record in 18 years per General Manager Jerry Dipoto. The team has obvious holes in its roster which could be filled in any number of ways. This is not necessarily a prediction for what the team will do, just what I might in Dipoto’s place this winter. I personally think the team will be hesitant to part with any of its top six or so prospects, instead favoring spending money on free agent contracts. Without further ado, here is my 2021-2022 Mariners offseason plan.
Options and Tenders
Decline Kyle Seager’s Club option: It was already reported that the team will not be picking up Seager’s $20 million club option for 2022, and this should not come as a surprise following Seager’s offensive decline and the rift between he and the front office.
Decline Yusei Kikuchi’s Club Option: At the All Star break it looked as if this option would surely be picked up, but the second half of the season made that unlikely. Kikuchi’s fall off in the second half makes this 4-year $66 million option unlikely to be accepted, and it has come down that Kikuchi has declined his one year $13 million player option for 2022.
Non-Tender Dylan Moore: If you have read my other work, you may know I am in favor of upgrading Dylan Moore’s role on the team. He is not the worst player to have around, but the team cannot rely on him providing anything offensively, so they should not guarantee him a roster spot. If the rest of the bench is upgraded and the starters improve, maybe Moore can have a role on the team as a pinch runner/defensive specialist.
Minor League Signings
LHP Andrew Heaney: Heaney had a rough 2021 between Anaheim and the pitcher’s nightmare that is Yankee Stadium so he could be looking for a rebound on a short-term deal. Heandog could be a long reliever but also has plenty of starting experience.
OF Steven Souza Jr.: Souza is a Washington State alum and an Everett native. If he doesn’t get a major league offer, playing in Tacoma or Seattle could be attractive to him. Souza adds veteran depth and injury insurance.
LHP Sean Doolittle: Doolittle ended his season with the Mariners after being claimed off waivers by Seattle and he seemed to like it here. He is nearing the end of his career so maybe he would want to hang here for another season.
LHP Brad Hand: The 2021 season was not kind to Hand. He started the season in Washington and was traded at the deadline to Toronto who later released him because his performance was too bad even for their struggling bullpen. Hand is another veteran looking to bounce back who could be looking for a short term minor league deal.
Sign INF/OF Kris Bryant 6 years $155 million: Bryant has been a perennial all star for years and would anchor the Mariners’ lineup, as well as providing intriguing positional versatility. He likely plays mainly third base in Seattle, although he could move around to allow other players to rest or to let Scott Servais play matchups with his platoon bats.
Sign OF Seiya Suzuki 4 years $25 million: Suzuki has been the best player in Japan’s NPB for several seasons, and the 27-year-old slugger could provide massive upside to the Mariners. Seattle has a history with Japanese players, including outfielders named Suzuki, and could be an attractive destination for Seiya. The contract is difficult to predict since Suzuki is not an unrestricted international free agent. There is risk here as production overseas does not always translate, but the upside would be worth it for a team in need of an offensive boost.
Sign INF Charlie Culberson 1 year $1.5 million: Culberson can play second or third base and mashes lefties. He would primarily be a bench bat and could platoon with Abraham Toro or someone else on the infield.
Trade OF Jake Fraley and LHP Isaiah Campbell to Oakland for INF/OF Tony Kemp: This trade both clears space by moving Fraley and improves the 2B/OF utility role the Mariners have coveted under Dipoto. Tony Kemp is interesting, he’s a smaller infielder with not much power but good speed and contact skills. He could bat in several spots in the lineup and be a quality lefty platoon bat.
Trade OF Kyle Lewis, RHP Drew Steckenrider, and LHP Brandon Williamson to Cincinnati for RHP Sonny Gray: The Reds will be looking for someone to fill the “Deep drive to left field” role if Nick Castellanos declines his option—which seems likely—and Kyle Lewis can certainly be that. In all seriousness, they do need outfield help, and the Mariners could be a team with some depth there. Cincy also needs bullpen help, and while Steck is not a closer but he can help a struggling staff. Sonny Gray is an immediate upgrade in the Mariners rotation, and coming off a somewhat unimpressive season, he could be somewhat of a buy-low candidate in his last season of club control.
Sign LHP Tyler Anderson 2 years $16 million: Some people might have lost faith in Anderson following a pair of blow-up starts near the end of the season against the Angels, but outside of those he was a reliable fifth starter for Seattle. Anderson gives the Mariners some flexibility in when and how they call up their top pitching prospects and he could be moved to the bullpen or traded if George Kirby or Matt Brash beat him out for a rotation spot down the line.
Sign RHP Yimi Garcia 1 year $8 million: Seattle may not look like a team that needs bullpen upgrades on paper but after trading Steckenrider it would be good to add another proven leverage reliever. Garcia began the season as Miami’s closer before being traded to Houston and being a crucial part of their world series bid. He would bring some veteran experience and add another leverage option to the Mariners’ bullpen pile.
Sign C Yan Gomes 1 year $4 million: Yan Gomes is a solid veteran catcher both offensively and defensively. Tom Murphy looks like a backup catcher with some good pop and Cal Raleigh doesn’t look ready for the majors, so Gomes provides more length to the lineup while the team waits on Raleigh.