Could the Mariners revisit possible Mitch Haniger trade scenarios?
The Mariners’ offseason of ‘re-imagining’ their roster saw a number of productive players in their late 20s or early 30s traded away for younger pieces, including Jean Segura (29), James Paxton (30) and Mike Zunino (28).
Who wasn’t traded was 28-year-old All-Star outfielder Mitch Haniger, a player who general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais both said the Mariners would focus their rebuild around. Not only that, but Haniger himself said he has bought in on what the Mariners are doing to attempt to build a perennial contender for early in the next decade.
While Haniger has still been one of the Mariners’ best players in 2019, hitting 10 home runs, 12 doubles and a triple for a .488 slugging percentage and .806 OPS, his .229 batting average, .315 on-base percentage and 54 strikeouts in 195 plate appearances are worrisome.
Jeff Passan, MLB insider for ESPN, joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock and Salk on Tuesday morning and wondered if the Mariners, who have come back down to earth following their hot start to the season, might take a look again at Haniger’s value on the trade market should his slump turn into something more prolonged.
“I really do wonder if Haniger moves. There’s not a lot of bats out there on the trade market, and I think that Haniger, because of his capabilities in the outfield and because he’s got some power, would be a guy who contending teams are looking for,” Passan said. “But if you’re Jerry Dipoto, do you want to say, hey, we’re not just punting on this year but we’re punting on next year, too? Because that’s what that would imply.”
Passan said that Haniger has been a victim of bad luck offensively – he had a batting average on balls in play of .338 in 2017 and .336 last year, but his BABIP is down to .269 this season – but something else about his performance at the plate is concerning.
“I think he’s had some bad luck on balls in play, but there are a lot of strikeouts there. There are too many strikeouts,” Passan said. “He’s 28 years old – at this point in his career, he needs to be making more contact if he wants to be the kind of player he can be. He’s still got an .800 OPS so I’m not trying to (knock) him in any way, but everyone there needs to be better. This is what happens when the team goes into a slump for a couple of weeks.”
Passan also spoke about what he thinks is the most likely path forward with the Mariners and Haniger, Félix Hernández’s recent rough patch and much more about the M’s. You can listen to the full segment in the player embedded in this post or download a podcast at this link.