MLB Insider Jon Morosi: Mitch Haniger has more value staying with Mariners than being traded

Apr 16, 2021, 11:39 AM
Mariners OF Mitch Haniger...
Mariners OF Mitch Haniger has been playing like an All-Star to start 2021. (Getty)

The Mariners are playing some great baseball to start the 2021 season, and now they return home for a five-game homestand with an 8-5 record and three series victories on the year.

Mariners Takeaways: Mitch Haniger and who else shined on big road trip

There have been plenty of heroes for the Mariners in their eight wins this season, but the man who is currently Seattle’s best player has also been the most consistent on the team. That would be right fielder Mitch Haniger.

Haniger, 30, has played in every game so far while hitting leadoff and either manning right field or playing designated hitter. He has a .321/.333/.623 slash line with four home runs and 10 RBIs through 13 games, and he smacked a home run in each of the Mariners’ wins in Thursday’s doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles.

Haniger’s hot start is even more impressive considering serious injuries and surgeries kept him out of action for most of 2019 and all of 2020. He’s now fully healthy and is playing like the All-Star he was back in 2018, when he finished 11th in American League MVP voting.

The star outfielder is signed through the 2022 season, but since the Mariners began their rebuild after the 2018 season, Haniger’s name has been floated in trade talks. That’s due to the amount of young outfield talent the organization boasts, such as 2020 Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis and top-five prospects Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez. Top-100 prospect Taylor Trammell is also in the organization and has been Seattle’s starting center fielder to start 2021.

But the Mariners appear to be trending upwards in terms of playoff contention for this season or next year and Haniger is showing he can be a key part of this club. So what does Seattle do with him?

MLB insider Jon Morosi of MLB Network joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob on Thursday to discuss Haniger’s future.

“Obviously the (outfield prospects) are coming. And at some point if you look at this in isolation, you have a veteran player who’s a year and five months from free agency at a position of strength,” Morosi said. “Could you flip him to get back something of value? Maybe to help the pitching staff a little bit? Perhaps.”

But Morosi thinks Haniger may have more value to the Mariners by staying on the roster rather than by being a trade chip.

“He is someone who I think as this young group looks to mature into a playoff team – I really believe the Mariners can be a playoff team in 2022  – (can be a key factor),” Morosi said. “… I look at this team as being playoff-ready next year. And if they are playoff-ready next year and Seager signs elsewhere, you do want to have a veteran somewhere in the mix … (Haniger) would be the oldest position player on the team next year at age 31. You have to have a veteran somewhere.”

Morosi pointed out that young players often struggle to find their footing early on, so someone like Haniger could be valuable both in the lineup but also as a leader. And even though outfield is somewhere the Mariners have a lot of talent, Morosi said the team can find a way to get Haniger and other young players playing time.

“Things typically have a way of working themselves out,” he said. “For now, I agree Haniger could be traded for some good pitching, but for now I think he’s a key guy for helping set the right tone for this club for this year and next year.”

Something that also works against the Mariners trading Haniger is timeline. Haniger is a free agent after the 2022 season, and Morosi said that players in Haniger’s situation aren’t bringing much in trade return at the moment.

“What we’re finding is players who are a year away from free agency, they don’t necessarily bring back the type of package that you’re expecting,” Morosi said. “… We’re in a spot where given the injury history (where he missed most of 2019 and all of 2020), the Mariners know his health history … and the Mariners probably trust his health better than (another team’s staff would) because he’s been through a lot, but the Mariners know him, they know what it took for him to get on the field, they understand him on and off the field. That’s kind of a long way of saying Haniger may be more valuable to the Mariners than he would be to any other team because they know him, because he can set a tone.”

And even though the Mariners and the rest of MLB are very high on Seattle’s young crop of outfielders, it’s no sure thing they all pan out and reach their full potential or even come close to it.

“It’s also not expected or likely that every one of these prospects will get up and be great continually the whole time,” Morosi said. “… His money for next year is manageable enough that they for a team that is going to be very reliant on some young players, they can afford him and he brings the edge they need.”

Follow Brandon Gustafson on Twitter.

Starting pitchers, Haniger lead M’s to doubleheader sweep of O’s

Wyman & Bob

Date Starting Pitcher
Saturday, April 1 @ 6:40 pm

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
Rain And Snow Showers Likely then Showers And Thunderstorms
High 47° | Low 35°
No game today.

Wyman and Bob

Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner...
Brandon Gustafson

John Schneider explains how Seahawks’ talks went with Bobby Wagner

Seahawks general manager John Schneider broke down how legendary linebacker Bobby Wagner wound up back in Seattle on a one-year deal.
2 days ago
Seahawks John Schneider...
Brent Stecker

John Schneider on Seahawks drafting a QB: ‘We don’t know yet’

Not only are the Seahawks still undecided on if they could draft a quarterback for the future, but GM John Schneider says they've been up front about it with their current QBs.
3 days ago
Mariners J.P. Crawford Ty France...
SeattleSports.com Staff

The hottest Mariners takes for the 2023 season from Seattle Sports

How good will the Mariners be, and who will be leading them along the way? We've collected our hottest M's takes from the Seattle Sports pit.
3 days ago
Mariners Julio Rodríguez Kolten Wong...
Brent Stecker

Mariners Breakdown: Will they take the next step in 2023?

On the eve of Mariners opening day, watch Bob Stelton of Seattle Sports' Wyman and Bob preview the highly anticipated 2023 season.
4 days ago
Mariners Scott Servais Logan Gilbert...
Brandon Gustafson

Morosi: Mariners have a path to jumping Astros, winning AL West

Is this the year the Mariners beat the Astros for the AL West title in 2023? Jon Morosi breaks down why that could happen this season.
4 days ago
Mariners Julio Rodríguez...
Mike Lefko

Lefko: 3 reasons the Mariners could be better than people think

Mike Lefko of Seattle Sports' Wyman and Bob goes through three things about the Mariners that people may be sleeping on for this season.
4 days ago
MLB Insider Jon Morosi: Mitch Haniger has more value staying with Mariners than being traded