Howdy: 3 headlines I want the Seattle Mariners to make this offseason

Oct 11, 2021, 9:13 AM
Mariners J.P. Crawford...
J.P. Crawford of the Seattle Mariners celebrates with teammates after scoring in the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at T-Mobile Park on Aug. 11. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

It’s going to be a while before we hear Mariners news as the playoffs have left them behind, but this will be a huge offseason for Seattle once we do get there.

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Here are three Mariners stories I hope to read once the offseason begins.

“Jarred Kelenic to begin offseason workout program with MLB stars”

The oozing talent and physical tools started to come to play as the 2021 season ended for Kelenic. The signs of a breakout were all showing, with the plate approach and power that scouts have raved about producing results for the rookie in September.

Kelenic has always been known as a tireless worker and student of the game – just watch his YouTube channel and you’ll see he’s not short on work ethic. But baseball is about more than just talent and preparation, and the same intensity that drove Kelenic to hone his skills and abilities and put his name atop prospect lists for the last three seasons may have created his biggest challenge in 2021.

Kelenic may benefit more than anyone on the roster by training next to the stars who were once in his shoes. For all the positives about the Mariners’ development system, the one thing the organization doesn’t have is a former top prospect who graduated to MLB stardom. Rather than going home to grind in the gym next to the Watt brothers in Wisconsin, Kelenic might find more value working next to MLB stars who were once heralded prospects like Alex Bregman, George Springer or Mike Trout.

“Mariners sit down with J.P. Crawford to discuss team’s plans”

As 2021 progressed, J.P. Crawford not only broke out on the field but in the clubhouse. Teammates consistently pointed to the Gold Glove shortstop as a leader on the team, and with veteran third baseman Kyle Seager’s likely departure, the leadership baton was passed to Crawford after Game 162.

Handling leaders in baseball is a challenge. It’s as easy to make leaders feel like they aren’t being respected as it is to capitulate to them so much that a manager loses control of a clubhouse. Some teams face the challenge of having their best players being total uninterested in developing others. With Crawford, the Mariners don’t need to have any of these issues.

2022 will be a clean slate for the Mariners in many regards, and as they prioritize major league talent over prospects in this phase of the rebuild, they need to make sure there are no cracks in the foundation. Does is mean a contract extension for the guy they will entrust to lead this crew?

At the very least, the Mariners should do for Crawford what Russell Wilson asked of the Seahawks this offseason: include him in the plan. Would Crawford endorse moving to second base in order to add one of the many star shortstops available in free agency? Can he help the front office understand what the players want to see done to the roster in order to preserve the positive atmosphere that was built in 2021 while bringing in more talent?

Chemistry and leadership are important traits that are hard to quantify. Go the extra mile to preserve them by including Crawford in the plan.

“Star infielder to sign with the Seattle Mariners”

The Mariners need more talent. Their depth was challenged as the playoff race kicked into high gear, and it was exposed by several rough at-bats by the bottom of the lineup in the final series of the season.

With Kelenic, Mitch Haniger and Kyle Lewis in the outfield (and with Julio Rodríguez potentially ready to join the club early next season), the opportunity to add impact offense lies in the infield. A very strong, young class of shortstops headlines an impressive class in free agency, and while the Mariners might not be interested in moving Crawford to a different position to make room for one of them, the Mariners can’t – and likely won’t – sit on the sidelines this offseason.

Third baseman Kris Bryant and second baseman Marcus Semien could be high on the Mariners’ wishlist. Bryant could have particular appeal given his positional flexibility (he can play first, third and the corner outfield spots), age (30) and playoff experience (key member of the Cubs’ 2016 World Series championship team). And as a former top prospect himself, Bryant could provide some valuable mentorship to Kelenic as he attempts to reach his ceiling.

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Howdy: 3 headlines I want the Seattle Mariners to make this offseason