Morosi: Haniger’s future, how 2 big names leaving their teams benefits Mariners

Nov 23, 2022, 12:50 PM

Mariners Mitch Haniger...

Mitch Haniger celebrates the Mariners' win over Texas on Sept. 28, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Mariners were the talk of baseball last week with two notable moves involving big-name players, and they figure to be a team to watch for the rest of this offseason.

Morosi: Why Mariners will be patient with addressing middle infield

S0meone who’s wired in to the Mariners and the rest of MLB is Jon Morosi of MLB Network, who joined Wyman and Bob on Seattle Sports 710 AM on Monday for his weekly conversation. Here’s a bit of what Morosi had to say about the Mariners and the offseason.

What’s next for Mitch Haniger?

Someone Mariners fans are keeping a close eye on is outfielder Mitch Haniger, who is far and away the biggest name Seattle may lose this offseason in free agency.

Haniger, 32 next month, is a fantastic outfielder and slugger when healthy, but staying on the field has been an issue for him, including in 2022 when he missed over 100 games due largely to an ankle injury. That came after a 39-homer 2021 season when Haniger played 157 games, but that big year came after he missed all of 2020 and most of 2019 due to multiple surgeries.

When the offseason began, a reunion between Haniger and the Mariners made a lot of sense for both sides, but Seattle has since traded for All-Star corner outfielder Teoscar Hernández, who primarily plays right field – Haniger’s position – and also hits right-handed and for power.

And according to Morosi, Haniger has a pretty substantial market, reporting the L.A. Dodgers and Angels are interested as well as the Texas Rangers.

“I think that at the moment, all signs are pointing to Mitch Haniger playing somewhere else in 2023 and beyond,” Morosi told Wyman and Bob Monday evening. “At this point, the interest in him is robust around the majors from what I can tell. There are probably half a dozen teams that are involved to differing degrees. And it does not appear to me at the moment that the Mariners are one of them that are interested in bringing him back.”

With the addition of Hernández, Morosi thinks there’s “just not a good fit” for Haniger to return to the Mariners.

“I think the one difficult part of it for Mariner fans beyond just how they feel about Mitch is that it’s now entirely plausible that he’s gonna be in the division,” he said.

The Angels in particular are interesting, Morosi said, as Haniger has great numbers against them, especially in Anaheim. Outside of T-Mobile Park in Seattle, the stadium where Haniger has hit most home runs and driven in the most runs is Angel Stadium.

And despite their struggles the last few years and epic collapse after an incredible start to 2022, the Angels don’t appear to be “punting” on 2023, Morosi said, as evidenced by a lucrative three-year deal with former M’s starter Tyler Anderson and their interest in Haniger and other notable free agents.

“They seem to be resolved to give this one more go with (Shohei) Ohtani still on the roster, with (Mike) Trout still playing center field, with (Anthony) Rendon healthy,”  he said. “The Angels are hoping that the entirety of 2023 looks a lot more like the first six weeks of 2022. And while that might be some wishful thinking, they’re taking some steps towards making that a reality.”

Other teams’ big losses could greatly impact Mariners

Guest host Robert Turbin asked for Morosi’s thoughts on the New York Yankees and their star free agent Aaron Judge, the 2022 AL MVP.

It’s no sure thing Judge returns, and if he does in fact leave, the Yankees will have a ton of work to do a year after winning 99 games, taking the AL East crown and mkaing it to the ALCS.

“Without Judge, they are more than one player away from being a World Series team,” Morosi said. “And obviously they just got swept by the Astros where they really weren’t that close.”

After defeating the Mariners in the ALDS in a very close three-game sweep, the Astros – who won the AL West and led the American League in wins with 106 compared to the Mariners’ 90 – had next to no problems against the Yankees in a four-game sweep before winning the World Series.

A big separator for Houston compared to the rest of baseball, Morosi said, is their development of young pitching.

So how does this Yankees and Astros talk tie back to the Mariners? Well, Morosi thinks it’s a real possibility Judge leaves New York for another team, and he also thinks Houston is likely to lose reigning AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander in free agency.

“I would say it’s 60-40 they lose Verlander,” he said of the Astros. “I really believe that’s the case. But they have so much pitching depth, that they’ll be able to handle that and still be the best team in the American League.”

“I think from my perspective, Seattle should approach this season and basically say listen, we are really close to being one of the best teams in this league, especially with a full year of (Luis) Castillo, with a fully mature (George) Kirby and (Logan) Gilbert that they feel they’re ready to go,” Morosi added. “I think that they make some moves with Houston in mind. And if Judge leaves the Yankees and signs with San Francisco, that’s great news for the Mariners.”

If Judge in fact leaves for another team and/or Verlander leaves the Astros, that would pull the Mariners “a lot closer” to the Astros, who are the one team Morosi currently looks at as “clearly better” than Seattle in the American League. That’s especially the case if Judge leaves New York.

“I’m not sure I would say that about any other team in the American League,” Morosi said.

Listen to the full conversation at this link or in the player below.

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Morosi: Haniger’s future, how 2 big names leaving their teams benefits Mariners