Dipoto: Mariners in ‘healthy place’ with Haniger; what’s next for Kelenic

Nov 11, 2022, 11:14 AM
Mariners Mitch Haniger, Jarred Kelenic...
Jarred Kelenic of the Seattle Mariners reacts after a two-run home run by Mitch Haniger on May 14, 2021. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

With the start of MLB free agency finally here, there are plenty of questions about how the Mariners will follow up a very successful 2022 campaign.

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President of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto was in Las Vegas this week for MLB’s GM meetings, and Thursday during his weekly show on Seattle Sports 710 AM, he shared some insight into a potential reunion with a big-name player as well as plans for a former top prospect.

Mitch Haniger’s future

The biggest name the Mariners have hitting free agency is Mitch Haniger, the slugging right fielder who has shined when healthy but has missed most or all of three of the past four seasons.

Haniger, 32 in December, is entering free agency for the first time in his career, and Dipoto stressed that a reunion is certainly on the table.

“Due to the fact that we have had Mitch for six years now, I think we’re in a healthy place with Mitch,” Dipoto said. “He is aware that we would like to have him back, we’re aware that he was going to see what free agency look like. I think we have a mutual understanding that he would like to be in Seattle moving forward, and we would like him to be in Seattle.”

Dipoto said that with free agency, there are 29 other opportunities for players to look at, and that could certainly mean Haniger suits up with another team for 2023.

“We also know that if all is equal, I think Mitch does have interest in Seattle,” he said. “But all may not be equal, and we have to see what that looks like in the weeks or potentially months to come.”

The Mariners have already made a decision of sorts with Haniger this offseason as they chose not to give him a one-year qualifying offer worth roughly $20 million. That would have allowed Haniger to accept or decline the offer to play for Seattle in 2023, and if he declined and signed elsewhere, the Mariners would have received draft pick compensation.

So why didn’t the Mariners extend that qualifying offer to Haniger?

“We did have some healthy conversations about doing that with Mitch … We thought it was healthier for our organization to go in and take a look at filling our needs with the flexibility, both economically and from a roster-building standpoint, to do the next thing,” Dipoto said. “And if that next thing centers around Mitch Haniger, that’s great. We’ll find that out in the weeks or months to come, but we didn’t think making that decision now in mid-November was the best decision for us.”

What about Jarred Kelenic?

The Mariners have a number of question marks in the outfield outside of whether Haniger returns, including what’s next for former top prospect Jarred Kelenic.

“This year, we go in with some (outfield) combination of Julio (Rodríguez), Jarred Kelenic and Jesse Winker, and I don’t want to discount the idea that that Taylor Trammell or even potentially (prospect) Cade Marlowe could be in that mix,” Dipoto said. “But where Kel fits, that story will be told – whether that is an everyday position, whether as a fourth outfielder or a member of a four-man rotation – is going to be defined by what we do in this market via trade and free agency.”

Listen to the latest Jerry Dipoto Show at this link or in the player below.

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Dipoto: Mariners in ‘healthy place’ with Haniger; what’s next for Kelenic