BRENT STECKER

The potential Mariners free agency targets to watch in MLB playoffs

Oct 15, 2021, 4:49 PM | Updated: 4:59 pm
Mariners Dodgers Chris Taylor...
J.P. Crawfordof the Seattle Mariners is tagged out at second base by Chris Taylor of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the second inning at T-Mobile Park on April 19. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

You may not be able to watch the Seattle Mariners in the MLB postseason, but there’s a very good chance you could see a future Mariners player or two if you tune into the three series that remain to be played.

Heaps: Haniger’s Mariners article worth getting fired up about

Coming off Seattle’s first 90-win season since 2003, the Mariners are expected to be active during one of the most important offseasons in franchise history this winter. And as you might expect, the four teams still playing – the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series, and the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series – each have a number of soon-to-be free agents to keep an eye on.

Here’s a look at the most interesting names for Mariners fans to watch.

Worth the Mariners taking a run at

SP Max Scherzer, Dodgers

It might sound crazy, but yeah, the Mariners could absolutely go after the three-time Cy Young Award winner.

ESPN’s Passan: ‘No better guy’ for M’s to build around than Scherzer

The Mariners have plans to spend, and there is plenty of need for an ace to lead their rotation, a bill Scherzer fits even if he’s 37 and has a lot of miles on his arm.

Scherzer has been as dominant as ever this year, especially since being traded from Washington to LA at the trade deadline on July 30. In 2021, he posted a 2.46 ERA and a league-leading 0.864 WHIP, and in 11 starts with the Dodgers he went 7-0 with 1.98 ERA, 0.820 WHIP and 1.96 FIP.

The eight-time All-Star won a World Series in 2019 with the Nationals, appeared in another with Detroit in 2012, and has now pitched in 25 playoff games after recording the save Thursday night in LA’s 2-1 NLDS-clinching win over the Giants. If he’s looking for a challenge after all that and attempting another run at a ring with the star-studded Dodgers, would there be anything better than trying to help the M’s end their 20-year postseason drought?

OF/IF Chris Taylor, Dodgers

You know what would be a good way to help Mariners fans get over the trade that sent Taylor to the Dodgers the year before he became a breakout player in the big leagues? Bring him back.

The 2021 All-Star would fit quite nicely on Seattle’s roster – or any roster, really – due to his incredible positional flexibility. He capably plays every position in the field except pitcher, catcher and first base, and he wields one of the best bats in the league for a utility player.

The Mariners showed in the second half of 2021 that when given the opportunity, they like to play the matchups with their lineup. Taylor would fit right in with that mentality.

SP Zack Greinke, Astros and SP Eduardo Rodríguez, Red Sox

Though Greinke is also a former Cy Young winner, he is a little older than Scherzer and hasn’t maintained the same level of dominance. He’s still a very good rotation piece, however, and would be a strong addition to Seattle’s pitching depth. The same goes for Rodríguez, who at 28 would fit right in with the Mariners’ young core. Greinke has made just one appearance in relief this postseason while Rodríguez made two starts in the ALDS against the Rays.

Dark horses

SS Carlos Correa and RP Kendall Graveman, Astros

Oh yeah, the offseason has the potential to get weird. Like bring in the guy T-Mobile Park mercifully booed all season long, or bring back the guy who you traded in July and accidentally set off people both in the fanbase and the clubhouse in doing so.

Let’s start with Correa. He may not be a favorite in Seattle due to his role in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal but he’s still one of the best infielders in the league. And if there are any concerns that he may not want to join the Mariners because of how the fans here have treated him, two things: money matters more than anything, and it’s not like he wasn’t getting similar treatment throughout the league.

There are big questions about whether the Astros will do enough to re-sign the two-time All-Star, and if it’s a splash the M’s want to make, he’s a great candidate. He also already has a great playoff résumé at just 27, and he added to it with a stellar ALDS against the White Sox (.385/.529/.538 slash line in four games).

For the Mariners, the questions are whether they would be willing to spend big on a player who plays the same position as Gold Glove winner J.P. Crawford, or if they could convince Correa to come to town and move to third base.

As for Graveman, we know he took the trade from Seattle hard, and there are a couple things working against him coming back to the Mariners. First, the bullpen isn’t really an area of need considering Andrés Muñoz and Ken Giles are expected to be leverage arms added to the mix after they each spent 2021 recovering from Tommy John surgery. And second, Graveman should be looking to cash in after a breakout season. If things don’t go to plan for him in free agency, however, and that’s very possible due to the limitations he has because of a benign tumor in his cervical spine, don’t rule out a return to Seattle if the price is right.

Dream on

SS Corey Seager, Dodgers; 1B Freddie Freeman, Braves

As cool as it would be for the Mariners to sign one of these superstars in free agency, it’s probably nothing more than a pipe dream.

With Seager, well, the Mariners are almost certainly not bringing his big brother Kyle back, and things are said to be pretty strained between Kyle Seager and the front office so it’s pretty hard to think Corey would then jump at the chance to essentially replace him in Seattle.

Freeman, meanwhile, seems intent on staying in Atlanta. He even told USA Today “there’s nowhere else I want to go.” Not the greatest negotiation tactic, but give him all the points for honesty.

The local connection

OF Steven Souza Jr., Dodgers

If the Mariners decide to go after outfield depth with some good pop, there’s always Souza, an Everett native who starred at Cascade High School. He had a 30-homer season in 2017 with Tampa Bay and is deployed at times by the Dodgers as a right-handed hitting option off the bench. If nothing else, he provides a local tie for Mariners fans watching the NLCS.

Dipoto Show: Julio’s shot to make M’s in spring, offseason priorities

Brent Stecker

Mariners Adam Frazier...
Brent Stecker

Mariners Breakdown: What you need to know about 2B Adam Frazier

What can Mariners fans expect from Adam Frazier, the 2021 All-Star who Seattle picked up in a trade on Saturday? Brent Stecker takes a deep dive.
2 days ago
Mariners Rockies Trevor Story...
Brent Stecker

The very intriguing possibility of a Mariners-Trevor Story pairing

Marcus Semien appears to be the Mariners' top target this offseason, but there's good reason Trevor Story's name also keeps coming up.
4 days ago
Mariners Jarred Kelenic...
Brent Stecker

It’s not ‘Wait ’til next year’ with the Mariners, it’s ‘Now just wait ’til next year’

The Mariners' first 90-win season since 2003 may not have been enough to make the playoffs, but the franchise's future is surely bright.
2 months ago
Mariners Kyle Seager...
Brent Stecker

Mariners’ Kyle Seager gets emotional sendoff from T-Mobile Park crowd

After 11 years in a Seattle Mariners uniform, Sunday may have been it for Kyle Seager. And he wasn't going to get away with the T-Mobile Park faithful giving him a grand sendoff.
2 months ago
Mariners J.P. Crawford...
Brent Stecker

Believe it — Mariners just moved into a tie for AL’s second wild card

The Mariners' incredible surge down the stretch has led them into a tie for an AL wild card after Boston lost to Baltimore on Thursday.
2 months ago
Seattle sports Seahawks Kraken...
Brent Stecker

Are we entering a new era of Seattle sports? Sunday sure felt like it

The Mariners are trending up. The Seattle Kraken are just trending. And the Seahawks and Storm suddenly are facing big questions.
2 months ago
The potential Mariners free agency targets to watch in MLB playoffs