With Kris Bryant and Trevor Story, why not both for Mariners?

Feb 24, 2022, 12:20 PM

Mariners Trevor Story Kris Bryant...

Rockies SS Trevor Story turns a double play as Cubs 3B Kris Bryant slides in a 2018 NL Wild Card game. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

All offseason long, perhaps the biggest question surrounding the Mariners has been whether Kris Bryant or Trevor Story should be their top offensive target in free agency.

But maybe it doesn’t need to be one or the other. Maybe we’re selling Seattle short and it could get both.

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That came up as a possibility on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy when Prospect Insider’s Jason Churchill joined the show Tuesday, and he and Jake Heaps happened to be thinking the same thing about the two All-Star free agents.

Churchill, a longtime baseball analyst who both writes for Prospect Insider and hosts the Baseball Things podcast, noted that he recently saw a prediction post that expected Story to get a contract worth $120 million and Bryant one for $90 million. And while Churchill personally found those estimates to be low, it did make him consider how the Mariners might fit into that.

“Obviously both players have to be willing to come, but if you can get both those players for $210 million, Seattle cannot be a team that gets that gets outbid,” Churchill said. “You have to lose out on those players because those players just badly wanted to go somewhere else (because) $90 million for Bryant is a bargain, $120 million for Trevor Story is a bargain. It just depends on the price.

“I think there’s a lot of indications out there now that Trevor Story is getting at least $20 million more than ($120 million), and I think Kris Bryant ends up getting a little more than $100 million. But, you know, I think it’s a ‘Why not both?’ until you just can’t get it done. I think the financial flexibility is there (for the Mariners). Well beyond the ownership’s willingness to spend money, the flexibility in what we think the budget is and what the budget has been in the past, both with the current ownership and the previous ownership, the flexibility’s there. So I think it’s both until we just know that it can’t be done, which means one or both of them sign elsewhere.”

As Stacy Rost pointed out, hearing that from Churchill made Heaps “jump out of his seat.”

Responded Heaps: “I love it so much, Jason, because I’ve been saying this. Like, I’ve been shouting this: Why not both? I know that they’re the two bigger guys (available in free agency) and I know it’s gonna take a lot to recruit, but money talks. And if you’re that committed to changing this thing, I couldn’t think of a bigger way to come out in free agency, in this offseason, (than to) plant your flag as the Seattle Mariners and (chairman) John Stanton and (general manager) Jerry Dipoto and say, ‘You know what, there’s been all these questions about our organization – let me tell you exactly where we are and what we’re about. Boom, here we go, we’re gonna compete on the open market for the best guys, we’re going to bring the impact that we need.’

“And ultimately, as you said, these are price ranges that they’ve been saving up a lot of years (for). They’ve been saving up a lot of money to be able to make a run for (players like) these two guys. … It’s one thing to recognize your problems. It’s another thing to be aggressive in a way to solve your problems.”

Heaps then turned the conversation back to Churchill.

“Are they there? Are you convinced that they’re there?” Heaps asked.

Churchill pointed to the fact that Dipoto added the title of president of baseball operations last year as a good sign, because instead of having to go through a team president on matters such as spending big on free agents, he now goes directly to Stanton, who is the team’s majority owner.

“I am… because now it’s Jerry Dipoto to John Stanton, and that’s it,” Churchill responded. “There’s no middle guy, and that’s legitimate. Stanton’s just going to be that much more involved, at least in that manner.”

Listen to the full conversation between Churchill, Heaps and Rost in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

How would Story and Bryant fit together on the Mariners?

Let’s break away from the conversation on Jake and Stacy to take a closer look at how this could work on the field.

So let’s theoretically say the Mariners end up signing both Story and Bryant. Is there room for both in Seattle’s lineup?

The Mariners currently have a hole at third base after Kyle Seager’s contract expired and he opted to retire. That’s Bryant’s natural position, so you can slot him there. He’s also a capable outfielder and first baseman, and you could also factor in days when he would be the designated hitter, in which Abraham Toro would be the logical fill-in at the hot corner.

As for Story, he’s a shortstop, but Dipoto made it clear early this offseason that the Mariners have committed to 2020 Gold Glove winner J.P. Crawford at the position. According to reports, that didn’t stop them from trying to sign Story before the MLB lockout. Story also has dealt with arm injuries in recent years, so his future may be at second base (where he would have shorter throws to make) and DH. He makes the most sense at second base for Seattle.

The Mariners already acquired All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier in November, but Dipoto and Frazier both acknowledge the possibility of him serving a utility role as he has experience playing the outfield, third base and shortstop.

So is there room in Seattle’s lineup for Story and Bryant? There would be a lot of moving pieces, but the M’s have been building for that by accumulating players who can play multiple positions. So yeah, you bet there is room.

2 Takes: What less flashy move should the Mariners make?

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With Kris Bryant and Trevor Story, why not both for Mariners?