Talking Mariners: Selling shortstops on 2B move could be easier now

Nov 15, 2022, 10:40 AM
Mariners Carlos Correa Adam Frazier...
Mariners 2B Adam Frazier slides safely ahead of the tag by Minnesota SS Carlos Correa on April 9. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

The biggest need for the Mariners this offseason is most likely finding a new second baseman with Adam Frazier now a free agent. Thing is, second base isn’t a particularly deep position in free agency right now.

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That’s why a lot of the attention when it comes to the M’s is on the stellar class of shortstops, with four players in particular – Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson and Xander Bogaerts – looking for big paydays. And yes, signing one would create a problem in that Seattle already has J.P. Crawford, the 2020 American League Gold Glove winner at the position.

Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto has stated that the team’s “great preference” would be to sign a player that would allow Crawford to stay at short, but he left the slightest amount of wriggle room with that statement, and maybe that’s because asking a shortstop to move to second base – whether it would be a free agent or Crawford – is a different situation than it was a year ago.

“Something that Jerry Dipoto talked about at the end of the year press conference and I was kind of scratching my head like ‘Is this something that’s real?’ – that we are now hearing from other general managers – is all of a sudden second base is now a defensive position again,” said Shannon Drayer, Mariners insider for Seattle Sports, on the first Talking Mariners podcast of this offseason.

What she was getting at is that MLB is instituting regulations on defensive shifts for the 2023 season. No longer will shortstops or second basemen be able to cross to the other side of second base before a pitch, nor can they position themselves on the outfield grass. That will add an importance for athleticism at second base, a position that in recent years hasn’t had to cover as much ground on defense due to shifts.

Drayer’s take on that?

“It also makes me wonder if you can sell second base a little bit more,” she said, “that it is a more important position right now.”

Her point is that the rule change might make changing positions an easier pill for a shortstop to swallow because it wouldn’t be seen as much of a signal that the player moving to second is doing so because of a lack of range or defensive ability. It could also be a sign of how the Mariners, and other teams around the league, are approaching the position for 2023.

“It used to be that you could go for a Robinson Canó at second base, that you’re going to be looking for much more offense,” Drayer said. “But with the shift going away… and without the ability to cover for a poor or below average or even average second baseman, you’ve got to have somebody that can play (defense) because the shortstop is not going to be able to shade over, and you’re not playing the shifts, which was easier for the second baseman.”

She continued: “It’s not somewhere you can just stash a bat anymore. So the importance of that position all of a sudden is gaining a little bit of spotlight, and again not just from the Mariners. You’re hearing this from other GMs, as well. That kind of intrigues me a little bit, if that would make it a little bit easier if you do get a shortstop to move either the shortstop that you get or J.P. to second base. And the Mariners will put a premium on that defense, I’m fairly certain of that, especially with no shift. So along those lines, I think that’s got me looking a little bit differently at those options.”

You can listen to the full Talking Mariners podcast with Drayer and Curtis Rogers in the player near the top of this post or in the YouTube video below. You can also subscribe to the podcast through Apple at this link.

More on the Mariners from Seattle Sports

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