Believe it or not, but there’s a chance Jerry Dipoto doesn’t make many moves this offseason. After tearing down the roster last offseason, there’s many more players the active general manager can trade to boost the farm system further, although outfielder Mitch Haniger is always a trade candidate. Nevertheless, Dipoto can’t be counted out on making any potential move, so they’re much more entertaining than the classic rebuilding team.
Expected Direction: Focused on Contending in 2022
Mariners Extend 1B Evan White
Contract Details: Six Years, $24 Million (Nine Years, $55.5 Million on Club Options)
In a very interesting move, the Mariners have locked up a player whom they believe to be a critical part of their long-term future- they signed first base prospect Evan White to a six-year extension with three club options. White, 23, was a first-round pick in the 2017 draft, and is ranked as the league’s 77th best prospect, according to Fangraphs. The Kentucky product is cited as an elite defender with the athleticism to play the outfield as well. However, he’s also a solid offensive presence, as evidenced by his 132 weighted-runs-created-plus (wrc+) in Double-A. Now, he doesn’t have the power for him to be a first-base only, but given his versatility and defense, he definitely should be worth $4 million over the next six years; the club options further add to the value. As long as White is a decent major league contributor, Seattle will be getting surplus value on this contract, and given their immediate financial flexibility, they can afford to make a deal like this. It’ll be interesting if they look to extend any more of their prospects.
Mariners Sign SP Kendall Graveman
Contract Details: One Year, $1.15 Million ($3.5 Million Club Option 2021)
As they look to add some pitching depth, the Mariners have signed starting pitcher Kendall Graveman to a one-year contract with a $3.5 million club option for 2021. However, even if they decline the option, Seattle will still be able to control Graveman through 2021- he’s under arbitration for next season. It’s been a rocky road for Graveman, who hasn’t pitched since 2018 due to Tommy John surgery; he also only threw 34.2 innings that season, and only 105.1 in 2017. Overall for his career, the 28-year-old owns a 4.37 xFIP and 4.53 SIERA- solid marks for a back-end starting pitcher. With a career K/9 of just 5.77, he definitely isn’t the modern-day pitcher, but he also has induced ground balls at a rate higher than 50%. He doesn’t bring much upside, but if he’s healthy, he should be a decent presence in what figures to be a thin rotation for a rebuilding Mariners team; this is a low-risk, low-reward type of deal.
Mariners Sign RP Carl Edwards Jr.
Contract Details: One Year, $950,000 ($500,000 in Incentives)
Continuing to add pitching depth in low-risk deals, the Mariners have signed reliever Carl Edwards Jr. to a one-year contract worth just under $1 million. Last season was extremely rough for Edwards Jr.; he posted an xFIP of 5.79 and a 5.33 SIERA. However, before then, he had been a quality reliever, which is what Seattle is hoping he can back to being. With a career 5.11 BB/9, his command has always been an issue, but he’s made up for it in the past with a 12.07 career K/9. Yet, as both of those numbers regressed this season, his stock went down significantly, which is why he’s forced to sign this deal. Now, there’s obviously no guarantee he can bounce-back, but given the volatility of relievers, it’s certainly possible, and for a team with no aspirations of winning this season, this makes perfect sense.
Mariners Sign 1B/3B Patrick Wisdom
Contract Details: One Year (MLB Contract)
Continuing to fill their roster with bounce-back candidates, the Mariners have finally added a position player. This time, it’s corner infielder Patrick Wisdom, who was signed to a one-year MLB contract. Once the 52nd overall pick in the 2012 draft, the 28-year-old appeared to have turned a corner with the Cardinals in 2018, as in 58 plate appearances, he posted a 142 wrc+ and .362 on-base percentage. However, he struggled with a 97 wrc+ with the Rangers in Triple-A this season, and had a -14 wrc+ and -0.3 WAR in limited major league action this season. With excellent power and usually above average walk rates, Wisdom does bring some upside, but with high strikeout rates and non-astonishing minor league numbers, he’s extremely far from a sure thing; despite having an MLB deal, there’s no guarantee he even makes the roster. Still, there’s no reason for Seattle not to make a move like this, given the state of their team.
Mariners Trade C Omar Narvaez To Brewers
Full Trade: Mariners Trade C Omar Narvaez To Brewers In Exchange For RHP Adam Hill and a Competitive Balance Pick
As they look to unload assets in their rebuilding phase, the Mariners have traded catcher Omar Narvaez to the Brewers, in exchange for pitching prospect Adam Hill and a competitive balance pick. Hill, 22, was a fourth-round pick in 2018, and currently ranks as Seattle’s 15th best prospect, according to Fangraphs. In 121.2 innings pitched at A-ball last season, the 6’6” righty posted a decent 4.15 xFIP, though that came with a below-average 1.98 K-BB ratio. Still, he has a solid three-pitch mix that could translate into a major-league career, and by picking up an extra pick, Seattle has a chance to add another quality prospect. That’s a decent return for a defensive liability behind the plate; the Mariners continue to execute their rebuild very well.
Mariners Sign RP Yoshihisa Hirano
Contract Details: One Year, $1.6 Million (w/Incentives and $250K Payment Whenever Traded)
This has been a quiet offseason, especially by general manager Jerry Dipoto’s standards, for the Mariners, but still, Dipoto has done a great job adding players to one-year deals. He’s found tremendous value once again, signing reliever Yoshihisha Hirano to a one-year contract worth $1.6 million with performance incentives. In his two seasons in the major-leagues, the 35-year-old Hirano has been rather consistent, posting xFIPs of 4.01 and 4.24, respectively. However, he improved his strikeout rate (10.36 K/9) tremendously, and per Baseball Savant, he ranked in the 94th percentile in hard-hit rate allowed (29.3%). He feels destined to be a midseason trade-chip for the Mariners, and at the very least, gives Seattle a stable option at the back-end of a thin bullpen. I really do like what Dipoto has done this offseason, as even if the Mariners are stuck in their rebuild, he’s found plenty of value on the open market.
Mariners Extend SP Marco Gonzales
Contract Details: Four Years, $30 Million ($1 Million Signing Bonus, $5 Million 2021, $5.5 Million 2022, $6.5 Million 2023, $12 Million 2024, $15 Million Club Option 2025)
As a rebuilding team, it’s not that surprising that the Mariners would opt to try to lock-up some of their core players, which is what Jerry Dipoto is hoping he’s done here; he signed lefty Marco Gonzales to a four-year extension worth $30 million with a 2025 club option for $15 million. Soon to be 28-years-old, the left-hander didn’t have the season he was hoping for last season, as he posted a 5.11 xFIP and 5.08 SIERA that makes his 3.99 ERA look very deceiving. It was the combination of more walks (2.48 BB/9) and fewer strikeouts (6.52 K/9) that hurt Gonzales, who had a 3.59 xFIP in 2018, yet his expected weighted-on base average (xwOBA) allowed didn’t change (.312 vs .313). Concerningly, Gonzalez’s average fastball/sinker velocity (89.3 MPH) dipped below 90 MPH, and although he prides himself on keeping hitters off-balance, I’m not sure a 7.9% swinging-strike rate will cut it; he’ll always be someone who relies on a decent amount of luck. The prices of Gonzales’ arbitration years are well spread out and not an issue, but will he be worth $12 million as a free agent in 2024 with a $15 million club option for the following year? I don’t anticipate that being the case, so this is probably a move that Dipoto didn’t have to make.
Mariners Sign SP Taijuan Walker
Contract Details: One Year, $2 Million (w/$1 Million Incentives)
Bringing back a familiar face, the Mariners have added some much-needed rotation help- they’ve signed Taijuan Walker to a one-year deal worth $2 million, with another $1 million in incentives. Walker, 27, was traded from the Mariners to the Diamondbacks, along with Ketel Marte, following the 2016 season in a deal in which Seattle acquired Mitch Haniger and Jean Segura. After a decent first season with Arizona, he pitched in just 13 innings in 2018, before undergoing Tommy John surgery. Now, Walker appears ready to get back on the mound, and based on his previous track record, an xFIP in the mid 4.00s can be expected. Maybe he can best better than those numbers and can be a nice trade chip, but regardless, he’s a decent option at the back-end of the rotation for a team that didn’t have any sort of stability there.
*Will Be Updated With Every Move The Mariners Make