ESPN’s Passan: Mariners have 2 paths to a successful offseason

Nov 9, 2022, 11:30 AM

Mariners Scott Servais...

Mariners manager Scott Servais congratulates Adam Frazier during a game on Oct. 4, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The MLB offseason will kick into full swing on Thursday when free agency opens, and there is understandably a lot of intrigue around what the Mariners will do coming off their first postseason appearance under manager Scott Servais and president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto.

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Offense is the clear area where the Mariners will need to improve, especially after reports Tuesday that they aren’t extending a qualifying offer to outfielder Mitch Haniger, who will now hit free agency when it opens.

So what will a successful offseason for these M’s look like? That question was posed to ESPN MLB reporter Jeff Passan when he joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Wednesday, and he explained that there are a couple of ways the Mariners could go.

“There are different incarnations of that,” Passan said. “I think there is a ‘one fell swoop’ success and I think there is success in volume.”

OK, let’s start with the first one.

“The one fell swoop success to me is one of the big four shortstops,” Passan said.

Those big shortstops are Trea Turner (previously with the Dodgers), Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox), Carlos Correa (Twins) and Dansby Swanson (Braves). The tricky part, though, is Seattle has a shortstop in J.P. Crawford, and Dipoto said after the end of the Mariners’ season that the preference would be to sign a talented shortstop willing to play second base – but he also didn’t entirely rule out the possibility of moving Crawford to the other side of the infield if that what it takes to improve the team.

Those shortstops provide perhaps the easiest path to adding something that the M’s are missing, according to Passan.

“Not that that’s some sort of panacea for this team or one guy is going to lead them to the promised land, but it’s felt like the Mariners for a while now have needed that second big guy,” he said. “And I say second with, funny enough, a rookie Julio Rodríguez, who’s no longer gonna be a rookie, being the first. … I think the idea of getting another big bat, big name in that lineup is huge.”

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What’s the other way Seattle can have a successful offseason? One where the Mariners could trade from their depth of starting pitchers to help.

“You also could go the piecemeal route where there’s a guy here, there’s a guy there, they’re able to trade (pitchers) Marco Gonzales and/or Chris Flexen, which is something that I’ve been told that they’re shopping them right now, and you have a bunch of smaller wins,” Passan said. “Maybe you don’t go and spend as much money, maybe it’s not as sexy, but in the end you become a much better baseball team.”

Is one way better than the other?

“Both of those things could happen,” Passan said, “but really I think the answer is probably more toward the big name.”

You can listen to the full Brock and Salk conversation with Passan in the podcast player below.

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ESPN’s Passan: Mariners have 2 paths to a successful offseason