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Should Mariners trade Mitch Haniger as part of their offseason rebuild?

The Mariners have been doing this thing this offseason – perhaps you’ve heard of it – called a rebuild.

Mariners trades: Canó/Díaz Segura | Colomé | Paxton Zunino

It’s also been referenced as a “step back” or a “re-imagining” of the roster, but whatever you want to call it, it involves a whole bunch of trades sending the Mariners’ best known players to places like Tampa Bay, New York, Philadelphia and Chicago for young, unproven prospects.

The prospects brought back in some of those trades have been pretty notable, however, adding some serious help to a previously woeful farm system in the hopes the Mariners will be able to contend in one or two years. But there’s one player who remains on the Mariners’ roster who might be able to bring back the best return of all: Mitch Haniger.

Haniger is an intriguing member of Seattle’s team right now. He was the Mariners’ best all-around player and a first-time All-Star in 2018, hitting .285 with 26 home runs, 93 RBIs, 38 doubles, four triples and an .859 OPS. And while he will turn 28 later this month, he is still under team control for four more years because he didn’t make his MLB debut until late in the 2016 season.

On one hand, Haniger is the kind of player the Mariners could build their new core around. But on the other, by trading him the Mariners could net even more top-line prospects to further help out their rebuilding effort.

In the latest 710 ESPN Seattle offseason video podcast, Mariners insider Shannon Drayer discussed with James “Boy Howdy” Osborn the reasons why and – more definitively – why not to trade Haniger right now. The discussion starts in the video at the 36-minute mark.

The case for keeping Haniger

“He’s a late bloomer, but he should still be in his prime when this thing is ready to go,” Drayer said of the Mariners’ target of contending again in 2020 or 2021. “He should be leading that team. He was, what, a top 10 MVP candidate this year? I think you want that and that that is something that can sustain, and I think we have been around Mitch long enough to think he’s still (on an upswing) or at the very least (not starting to decline).”

The case for trading Haniger

“It’s how much you can bring in,” Drayer said. “I think the only way that you move him now is if you do get that haul, (and) you have to win that trade. … With a Haniger deal, there’s no question, you have to win that trade. And I don’t think that’s going to be easy for another organization to do. We’ve talked about what the free agent market has been the least few years, the trade market – teams are holding onto their young players. They are holding on to their prospects. I think there’s a higher premium on those players right now, and I don’t know that you could get that ‘blow-me-away’ (trade offer) even with Mitch Haniger right now.”

If Haniger is traded, will it be sooner or later?

“Sooner, because that would have such impact on both organizations. They all know where they’re at and what they need, and I don’t really see a team mid-January going, ‘You know what we really need? We need Mitch Haniger,’ a month out from spring training.”

You can watch the full video attached in this post, or you can listen to an audio-only podcast at this link.

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