MLB’s Morosi: 2 shortstops make most sense for Mariners to sign

Oct 28, 2022, 10:41 AM

Mariners Xander Bogaerts...

Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox hits an RBI double against the Mariners on June 10, 2022. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

A year ago, Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto was firm in his stance about the shortstop position. That’s where J.P. Crawford plays, and it wasn’t changing as Seattle would only consider signing a free agent shortstop if they would be willing to move to a different position.

Dipoto: How Mariners’ clubhouse factors into their offseason targets

This offseason, however, the stance is a little less firm.

During the Mariners’ end-of-season news conference last week, Dipoto said the team would still like to keep Crawford at shortstop, but he left a little wiggle room.

“Our great preference would be we could land a shortstop that would like to go play second base, but we are not going to close the door to anything in that regard,” Dipoto said. “J.P. is our shortstop, he’s an emotional leader for us. We feel he does a very good job in anything we ask him to do. … He will line up for us opening day at shortstop and our goal is to put someone around him. If we do find someone who plays shortstop, that person could very likely move to second base. That’s a discussion for then and not now. J.P. is our shortstop, we signed him to play shortstop and that’s what we intend to have him do.”

The market at second base this offseason, like last year, is shallow. But once again there’s a strong class of shortstops expected to be available, including Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson. With that in mind, which of the top shortstops on the market would make the most sense for Seattle? MLB Network’s Jon Morosi shared his thoughts Wednesday during his weekly conversation with Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob, and two names stand above the rest for him.

“I’m really gravitating towards Bogaerts,” Morosi responded, referring to the longtime Boston Red Sox star. “For me, he presents the type of run production that I think would really change the way this lineup works, to have one more bat in the middle.”

The 30-year-old Bogaerts has been a consistent offensive force in his career, making four All-Star teams and winning four Silver Slugger awards in his nine full MLB seasons. The 2022 campaign wasn’t his best, but that actually illustrates just how good he’s been. He slashed .307/.377/.456 for an .833 OPS, though his home runs (15) did take a dip as he’s hit 20 homers or more four times, including three times in the last five years.

While it isn’t for certain that Bogaerts will be a free agent, it seems likely he will take an opt-out in his current deal to capitalize on a season where he ranked sixth in baseball in on-base percentage and 10th in batting average.

Morosi added that Bogaerts, who played 53 games at third base early in his career, has shown a willingness before to play a different position, but he’s never played second base as a pro.

Someone who has, though, is Dodgers shortstop Turner, who will be perhaps the No. 2 position player in free agency behind only Aaron Judge.

Turner played 49 games at second for Los Angeles in 2021 after a midseason trade but took over the team’s shortstop position following Corey Seager’s departure for Texas last offseason. He also played center field early in his MLB career. He’s the kind of player the Mariners should be willing to move Crawford to second if they can get him and his preference is to stick at short, however.

The 29-year-old Turner is a unique talent in the game, possessing elite speed (99th percentile in the game, according to Baseball Savant) and impressive pop out of his lanky 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame.

And, well, he’s really smooth to watch on the field.

The Mariners have another player with a great mix of speed and power, of course, and Morosi is very intrigued by the idea of pairing Turner with Julio Rodríguez at the top of Seattle’s lineup.

“The table setters would be really interesting where maybe you put Turner leadoff and then Julio second, or vice versa,” he said. “I think Turner can really bat anywhere for you with his attributes as a run producer in addition to being a great run scorer and a great baserunner, but I think it would open up a ton of possibilities.”

You can listen to the full conversation with Morosi in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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MLB’s Morosi: 2 shortstops make most sense for Mariners to sign