Paul Sewald doing his best to recruit friend Kris Bryant to Mariners

Feb 9, 2022, 2:32 PM

Mariners Kris Bryant...

Kris Bryant of the Giants runs on his RBI double in the fifth inning of a game against the Brewers. (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

It’s no secret that the Mariners will be looking to add an impact bat to their lineup whenever the MLB lockout ends, and Seattle has repeatedly been tied to one of the biggest bats on the market.

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That bat would be Kris Bryant, the third baseman/outfielder who won National League Rookie of the Year in 2015 and NL MVP in 2016. Bryant, 30, is a free agent for the first time in his career, and the former Chicago Cubs star who played the second half of last season with the San Francisco Giants has reportedly been on the Mariners’ radar for some time.

The fit makes plenty of sense from the Mariners’ side of things as they were one of the worst hitting teams in baseball in 2021, ranking dead last in batting average and 22nd in runs scored. Additionally, they need a new third baseman as Kyle Seager’s contract expired after the season and he has since retired.

Bryant owns a career .278/.376/.504 slash line with 167 home runs and 487 RBIs in 884 games, and he had a good year in 2021, and slashing .265/.353/.481 with 25 home runs and 73 RBIs in 144 games for Chicago and San Francisco, earning NL All-Star honors along the way.

As far as why Bryant would want to come to the Mariners, though he’s never played in the American League before, he’s from the western part of the United States having grown up in Las Vegas, and he played college ball on the West Coast at the University of San Diego.

There’s somebody else you might know who is from Las Vegas and played in college at San Diego: Mariners reliever Paul Sewald. In fact, the former college teammates remain very good friends to this day.

Sewald joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy on Tuesday to provide a player perspective to baseball’s ongoing labor negotiations during the MLB lockout. One of the sticking points for the MLBPA is fixing the issue of service time, which Bryant has been the poster child of due to how his debut was handled by the Cubs in 2015. Sewald brought that up to Jake and Stacy.

Related: Paul Sewald explains players’ side to lockout negotiations

“It’s very difficult to see top players who should be in the major leagues not be simply because a team can control them for an extra year,” he said. “Kris Bryant is a very good friend of mine (and) he is probably the most clear-cut example of this. He was the Minor League Player of the Year in 2014, he was ready for the major leagues… but (he didn’t start 2015 with the Chicago Cubs) because he ‘needed a little bit of seasoning.’ Three weeks seasoning and now all of a sudden he’s in the big leagues? That’s really all it took? Oh, now you get him for seven years instead of six years, (so) you get an extra year of control over a player. And it’s frustrating because the fans want to see the best players out there on the field. It shouldn’t be a service time argument.”

The fact that Sewald brought up his friendship with Bryant didn’t get past Jake and Stacy, as Jake Heaps followed up later in the interview by asking if Sewald has been trying to recruit Bryant to come play in Seattle. It turns out that not only is Sewald doing just that, but he said he’s actually successfully recruited Bryant to be his teammate before.

“I know Mariners fans are listening very closely at this point,” Sewald quipped. “I convinced him to go to the University of San Diego with me and play with me there. I am doing the best that I possibly can to get him to be a Seattle Mariner for the next few years. I’m not in charge of how much money he gets or what deal he takes, but I promise … I am doing my best to be a middleman between him and the front office.”

Listen to the full interview with Sewald at this link or in the player below.

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Paul Sewald doing his best to recruit friend Kris Bryant to Mariners