The important message Mitch Haniger sent about the 2022 Mariners
Mariners All-Star right fielder Mitch Haniger shared a lot of interesting things when he joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob for an interview last Wednesday.
In addition to talking about his nomination for Men’s Sports Star of the Year at the Seattle Sports Commission’s 87th annual Sports Star of the Year Awards (which you can vote for here through 11:59 p.m. Sunday), his headline-making Players Tribune column and coming back from nearly two years away from competition, Haniger had a key message about this Mariners offseason.
That message boiled down to “nice start, but keep going.”
The Mariners have been unable to make moves for over a month now due to the MLB lockout, but before that happened, they added reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray in free agency and 2021 National League All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier in a trade that only cost Seattle prospects.
Additionally, Seattle has a loaded farm system, with five players making Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list that was released last week including three in the top 20. But for Haniger, coming off an encouraging 90-win season that left Seattle just a few wins short of the postseason, now is the time to add proven talent.
“Robbie Ray signing and the Adam Frazier trade were definitely two impact moves that we made that are setting ourselves up for it to be a good offseason,” Haniger told Dave Wyman and Bob Stelton. “You know, I think we still need some some more big upgrades and I know adding a couple more players should put us over the top. … Although we have great prospects that I’m looking forward to putting on the Mariners uniform, they still are unproven and I think the more guys that we can get with a steady track record of playing against the best in the world at the MLB level, the better. And then we supplement those prospects in with those guys and I feel like that’s our best chance of success.”
After hearing Haniger’s interview, 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy could not have agreed more.
“I am so excited to see some of these guys for the Mariners this year, particularly Julio Rodríguez, No. 2 overall prospect in baseball… and I think that the Mariners and their fans should feel really good about where this organization is going because of those young players,” Stacy Rost said. “But I’m with Mitch on this one – the young players aren’t enough by themselves.”
Rost made sure to point out, though, that Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto made the big moves for Ray and Frazier in the days just before the lockout started, and there’s no telling what other additions they may have made at this point without the lockout.
“There are literally no moves to be made right now. There’s no free agency right now, so they can’t do anything,” she added. “All I’m saying is I really, really hope they do a lot, because the best way to get to a World Series, like Mitch says, is the combination of those guys that have been there before and then really great young talent.”
It’s also important to point out that Dipoto himself said on 710 ESPN Seattle the day before the lockout – after signing Ray, trading for Frazier and extending young reliever Andrés Muñoz – that the Mariners were working to get more deals done before the deadline. That means that whenever the lockout ends, fans should expect the M’s to get right back to work on exactly what Haniger is hoping for.
It should be no surprise that Jake Heaps, Rost’s co-host, is a big fan of what Haniger said. Heaps was concerned about the state of Seattle’s offseason until news of Ray’s signing broke during an edition of Jake and Stacy, which made for a memorable moment on the station’s video stream.
— 710 ESPN Seattle (@710ESPNSeattle) November 29, 2021
Heaps stressed that it’s OK to be encouraged by what the Mariners have done thus far this offseason while still hoping for more in order to seize on an opportunity in 2022.
“It’s not to put down any the moves that they have made. I mean, going out and getting the best pitcher in the free agent market in Robbie Ray is a pretty darn big deal,” he said. “That’s a great move by the Mariners, it’s exciting, it honestly was a big time move by Jerry Dipoto. … This organization, to be able to land Robbie Ray, wasn’t on anybody’s radar of possibilities and and they pulled it off.
“When you have a group that has the unique combination of young, developing and veteran players, you have the opportunity for sustained success and it takes you from being a fringe playoff team, or a plucky (team and) cool story, to being a legitimate playoff contender. And that’s what Mitch Haniger is speaking to here. I think that he as a leader of the team and really taking on that role along with Marco (Gonzales), J.P. Crawford and Paul Sewald, that he’s speaking on behalf of the guys in the clubhouse, that they’re ready to build on the momentum and build on the excitement that is going on here with Mariners baseball, and (saying) that they’re capable of doing so much more. But guess what? They need the help.”
Heaps added that picking up the “couple more players” that Haniger said would put the M’s “over the top” would be important not just for making Seattle a true contender but also for the message it would send to the players in the clubhouse.
“When you realistically look at it, you need two big bats and you need to round out your starting pitching. And if you can do that this offseason, it puts you in a tremendous position. It pushes forward what you have been trying to build here culturally in Seattle… Taking that message and taking that honest assessment, saying, ‘We believe in you and we’re backing that up by the moves that we are making here.'”
You can hear the full conversation from Jake and Stacy in the middle segment of the podcast at this link or in the player below from Thursday’s final hour of the show. They also had a longer discussion about Haniger’s interview and the Mariners’ offseason to open the show, which you can hear at this link.
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