The Mariners could make some changes in the outfield, and soon
The Mariners’ outfield defense in the first half of the 2019 season was… well, it was not good.
Domingo Santana’s bat was good enough that he could have been an All-Star, but his defense in left field was a completely different story. It was clear from the get-go that he did not feel comfortable in left, and though he has performed much better since switching to right, he still owns a worrisome minus-13.3 defensive WAR (per Fangraphs) that is the worst in the majors.
While Santana has been an important part of the Mariners’ offense, his defense could be reason enough to think the Mariners might end up trading him before the July 31 MLB trade deadline instead of keeping the 26-year-old slugger as part of their core to build around.
“Domingo Santana to me did not have a reputation coming into this year as a terrible defender. He wasn’t considered a plus defender, but he wasn’t considered an out-of-position guy that should just be playing DH,” Osborn said. “When he showed up and played left field the way that he did, it looked so bad to me. And it reminded me of this idea that this guy just doesn’t want to play this position so I don’t think he’s going to play very hard in this spot.”
Responded Drayer: “If that’s the case, don’t you learn something about him? … I don’t know if that’s what it was, but that’s what it appeared to be.”
The Mariners have a lot of young outfielders in their farm system with bright futures, something Drayer said could give Seattle enough reason to trade Santana if the right offer comes along.
“At some point, some decisions are going to have be made on outfielders. You look at the offense that (Santana) has put up, but I don’t think it’s out of the question that he’s moved,” Drayer said. “I don’t think he’s moved for nothing, though. And I think everybody is available that is not named J.P. Crawford right now on that team. (The) second half could show something different if he isn’t traded, but you’ve got a lot of young outfielders coming, one perhaps soon.”
That young outfielder that could be in Seattle soon would be the 24-year-old Jake Fraley, an offseason acquisition from Tampa Bay in the Mallex Smith-Mike Zunino deal who has played strong since a promotion to Triple-A Tacoma on June 20. Fraley is likely to join the Mariners this year whether Santana is traded or not, and Drayer expects him to get the call “sooner rather than later.” In fact, Drayer said he could have arrived in the big leagues shortly after the All-Star break if not for a recent injury.
“Now I think the question is can you get him closer to September and not have to deal with the clock issue,” Drayer said, alluding to baseball’s service time rules, “although I don’t think that’s a huge issue with this group.
“I think absolutely you’re going to see (Fraley with the Mariners this season), and it very well could be much sooner than expected.”
Hear the whole conversation and much more in the video attached below or an audio-only podcast version at this link.