Morosi: Marcus Semien, Trevor Story make sense for Mariners to target
On 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jerry Dipoto Show last Thursday, the Mariners general manager/president of baseball operations made it clear that his team’s shortstop going forward will be 2020 Gold Glove winner J.P. Crawford, but he also provided insight into how a loaded shortstop market in free agency this offseason could factor into Seattle’s plans.
“One of the things that’s important to us is finding a player who is adaptable and willing to move around the field and maybe get a little uncomfortable,” Dipoto said.
He then dropped two names in that free agency class, Marcus Semien and Javier Báez, as players that showed that willingness during the 2021 season as both moved to second base when they joined new teams.
With the Mariners coming off their first 90-win season since 2003, indicating they plan to make a splash this offseason, and a report last week by ESPN’s Buster Olney that Seattle is expected to be in the mix for the big-name shortstops in free agency, which players make the most sense for them to go after?
Jon Morosi of MLB Network was presented with this information during his weekly visit with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob last Thursday, and he said two names go to the top of the list – though one is the clearest choice.
“It has to be Semien,” Morosi said. “I think that’s the name because he was playing second with Toronto (in 2021). You could play Semien at second with Seattle and move (Abraham) Toro to third. … He’s the guy.”
While the 31-year-old Semien is being considered part of the shortstop market, he played 145 games at second base compared to just 21 at short in 2021, his first with Toronto. Prior to that, though, he played only short over six years with the Oakland A’s. He’s coming off a breakout campaign, posting a .265/.334/.538 slash line and a career-high 45 home runs and 102 RBIs, making his first All-Star team in the process.
The other player that jumps out to Morosi isn’t the other name Dipoto mentioned – Báez is believed to want to return to shortstop as his switch to second with the Mets for the stretch run allowed him to play alongside fellow Puerto Rican Francisco Lindor, who he’s known since they were kids.
“Now, could Trevor Story play third?” Morosi posed about the Colorado Rockies star. “Yes, I think Story’s body type, his overall projection leads me to believe that maybe he could play third, and he may also want to reestablish his numbers.”
Story, who will turn 29 next month, made the All-Star team and won Silver Slugger awards in both 2018 and 2019, but his offensive production dipped a bit in 2021. He slashed .251/.329/.471 with 24 homers, 75 RBIs and 20 stolen bases, but after missing 20 games with an elbow injury, a move to third could result in less wear and tear over a 162-game season for the 6-foot-2, 213-pounder.
What Dipoto’s comments seem to suggest above all is that Houston’s Carlos Correa, who has stated he has no plans to move away from shortstop, won’t be a consideration for the Mariners.
“Based on what Jerry said, you’d have to cross him off the list,” Morosi said. “Correa played third for the Puerto Rican national team at the World Baseball Classic, and I remember talking to him about that even during that competition four years ago, and I said something about him playing well at third base during a postgame interview, and Carlos looked at me and said, ‘Don’t forget, I’m still a shortstop. I’m just playing third base for the national team because we want to win the World Baseball Classic.’ So it was because Javy Báez was there, and it was an amazing team; Lindor was there. That was their infield: Baez at second, Lindor at short, Correa at third. It was incredible. … (But) I remember distinctly, he looked me in the eyes and said, ‘I am a shortstop.'”
Morosi thinks committing to Crawford at short is the right move for the Mariners, and added that while Story is a potential option, Semien is the name that both makes the most sense and seems the most realistic for Seattle to sign.
“It’s a good call – JP played well for this team – but I think it does mean they’re gonna have to target either Semien or Story. And you know what? I think they have a legit chance to land one of the two of them – especially Semien, because I really think as a native of the Bay Area he wants to play on the West Coast.”
Listen to Morosi’s full thoughts on the topic in the final question of the first segment of the podcast at this link or in the player below.
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