MLB insider Jon Morosi explains why he’s picking Mariners to win AL West
The Mariners won 90 games in 2021 but fell just short of the playoffs. One top MLB insider doesn’t see that happening again in 2022.
MLB now has three wild card teams making the playoffs on top of the three division winners. While that extra wild card spot could help the Mariners end their playoff drought that dates back to 2001, Morosi doesn’t think that’ll be necessary in 2022.
“The Mariners are my pick to win the American League West,” he said. “Period. They are my pick.”
“Look, the Mariners have, I think, built a very, very sound and balanced baseball team,” Morosi added. “I think Jerry Dipoto, he certainly still is ‘Trader Jerry,’ but outside of the main move that he made with (acquiring Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez from the Cincinnati Reds), he didn’t really have to make that many trades this winter. And I think he has made the right targeted signings. This team is balanced.”
Winker and Suarez join 2021 All-Star infielder Adam Frazier and 2021 American League Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray as veteran new faces in the Mariners’ clubhouse. Seattle will also have top prospect Julio Rodriguez in center field on opening day.
The Houston Astros have won the AL West four of the last five years, including in 2021, but Morosi thinks they are vulnerable with star hitters Carlos Correa and George Springer having left town the last two offseasons. Plus, the Astros have a few question marks in their starting rotation, including an injury to Lance McCullers Jr.
“Still a very good ballclub there in Houston,” Morosi said. “But think about this, Seattle got that close, at least within range of finishing right there with Houston, last season. And when you look at this overall lineup, you’ve added a couple of significant bats – maybe three when you consider what Frazier can do. You’ll have Rodriguez you hope for a full season, of course, making the team in center field. (Jarred) Kelenic for a full year. I really think the last week or so of his at-bats was a lot more encouraging for him (at the end of) spring training. So all these names – Frazier, Winker, Suárez, Kelenic, Rodriguez and I thought, overall, we saw a pretty good spring from Cal Raleigh as well. These are all names that were not part of this team this time last year.”
And that’s just when it comes to the lineup.
“Then you look at the pitching side, you add in the reigning Cy Young Award winner, you call up (top-100 prospect) Matt Brash, who I think is really ready for this spot, the fifth spot,” Morosi said. “You also have a couple of names in the minor leagues in both George Kirby and Levi Stoudt, who probably can come up and start games for you. You’re going to need, especially in this unique year, more than just your starting five and more than your usual complement of relievers. So in this case, even without Casey Sadler, they’ve got guys like (Sergio) Romo who have come in and Ken Giles is now there and Andrés Muñoz, I think, they’re really excited about. So I look at depth and I see as much depth with this roster … than I do any other roster in the American League West.”
Listen to the full discussion at this link or in the player below.