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Stelton: By freeing up money for pitching, no downside to Mariners’ deal for Ryon Healy

Ryon Healy is just 25, hit 25 home runs in 2017 and will make just over $500,000 next season. (AP)

The newest Mariners player, Ryon Healy, gives Seattle a young everyday first baseman with a projected ceiling that is higher than the numbers he has produced in less two full seasons in the MLB. But that’s not all his acquisition does for the Mariners.

“He’s 25, he’s got pop, and he’s not making anything in the world of baseball dollars – it’s nothing,” 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob Stelton said to John Clayton on Thursday.

Drayer: Mariners maintain budget flexibility in adding Healy

That cheap price tag for a starting first baseman will help the Mariners out as the offseason progresses, especially at one position they could use some significant help.

“You’ve got a home run threat … and you get him under control for several years,” Clayton said, “where now that gives you more money to go try to see if you can do things on the pitching side.”

And pitching, Stelton chimed in, is where Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto should be focusing a lot of his attention on for 2018.

“They will and must do something on the pitching side,” Stelton said. “There’s so much uncertainty with your starting rotation that you have to go out and address it, and you can’t do it with duct tape. You have to get somebody that’s going to be solid, not the typical ‘well this guy can eat up some innings for us’ thing they do every year. You need more than that. You need more than you have done the past couple of years.”

Healy, who hit 25 home runs and posted a slash line of 271/.302/.451 in 605 plate appearances with Oakland in 2017, will cost Seattle just over $500,000 in 2018, won’t be arbitration-eligible until 2020 and is under team control until 2023. If he ends being a long-term solution for the Mariners, it would be a coup for Seattle, especially since he’s joining a youthful core that includes the likes of Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger and Ben Gamel.

“In terms of your position players, you’ve got a lot of youth there,” Stelton said. “You can build around this guy, you’ve got an affordable young outfield you can build around, plus the guy can play third base as well and spell Kyle Seager for games here and there.

“I don’t think there’s any downside to the move. I love it.”

Listen to podcasts of John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle