SEATTLE MARINERS

2 Takes: Which free agent makes most sense as Mariners’ No. 1 target?

Oct 29, 2021, 12:10 PM

Mariners possible target Kris Bryant...

Kris Bryant of the San Francisco Giants celebrates after homering in Game 1 of the NLDS on Oct. 8. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

If this is the year the Mariners break the bank and add a high-priced free agent, they have some options.

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There are of course the five All-Star shortstops hitting free agency, which we covered recently here on 710Sports.com. There are a number of proven veteran starting pitchers. There are even star utility players and slugging outfielders.

But out of all of them, who should be the Mariners’ No. 1 target when free agency begins next month?

That was a topic of discussion between Mariners insider Shannon Drayer and James “Boy Howdy” Osborn of Brock and Salk on the most recent edition of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Talking Mariners podcast, and they were split on who that top priority should be.

You can hear them debate the topic in the final seven minutes of the episode embedded below, or read what they had to say underneath that.

Shannon Drayer’s pick: Marcus Semien, 2B/SS

On a recent edition of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jerry Dipoto Show, the Mariners general manager/president of baseball operations committed to J.P. Crawford being Seattle’s shortstop and said the team only has interest in shortstops that would be willing to play a different position. Knowing that, two of the five big available shortstops jump out to Drayer. One, though, makes a little more sense for the Mariners, she said.

“I think the two names that they’ll be looking at will be (Trevor) Story and Semien,” she said. “Story is somebody that they have liked for a long, long time. Semien would be my No. 1 target as far as a realistic-type target goes, but his market is probably going to be a lot higher than anybody expects. But he is a West Coast guy that prefers to be on the West Coast.”

For more on Semien and Story, read here what MLB Network’s Jon Morosi had to say about them on a recent episode of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob.

Boy Howdy’s pick: Kris Bryant, 3B/1B/OF

The shortstop market doesn’t interest Boy Howdy, because he sees the void at third base being created by the likely parting of ways with Kyle Seager as the biggest need. He also sees a player that would fit perfectly into that spot.

“I’m sort of out on this conversation in the first place about shortstops in the market,” he said. “And maybe I’m just living in a different world and an unrealistic world, but to me, the place to look for the long-term answer is it’s at third base. And whether that’s in the trade market or the free-agent market, I think that there’s one clear candidate when I hear Jerry Dipoto talk about the kind of player that they’re looking for, that checks every single box, and probably double-checks them in Sharpie, and it’s Kris Bryant.”

Bryant, who will turn 30 in January, is coming off his fourth All-Star season, and he gave a boost to the Giants’ run to the National League West title and postseason run after a trade from the Cubs in July. He slashed .265/.353/.481 with 25 home runs, 73 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 2021, and he continued to show versatility playing mainly at third but also plenty at all three outfield positions.

An interesting thing about Bryant and the Mariners that Drayer noted is that while San Francisco got him, Seattle was apparently competition for the Giants at the trade deadline.

“They went in heavy on him. Obviously they liked him, but they didn’t go in heavy enough,” she said.

It’s believed Bryant would prefer to stay with San Francisco, but Howdy wonders if a wrench might be thrown into those plans.

“There’s a lot of prevailing thought that he’s going to re-sign with San Francisco. What I’ve seen and heard is that San Francisco’s got some other decisions they need to make and they’re not sure if they’re going to make Kris Bryant the No. 1 priority of their offseason. And if that’s the case, you as the Mariners, a guy who plays first, third, the corner outfield and center in a pinch defines what you’re looking for. Playoff experience, youngish West Coast guy, high school in Nevada, went to college in San Diego, he played for a championship team (with the Cubs) that went from nothing to something and broke a curse.

“I mean, everything that you want from a guy is right there. And he plays the position that you’re going to ask him to play, you don’t need to move him anywhere to make it happen. You don’t have to convince a premier free agent to change positions to come to the Seattle Mariners. To me, there’s the one guy out there that should be your one of one.”

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2 Takes: Which free agent makes most sense as Mariners’ No. 1 target?