JOE FANN

Fann Mail: Assessing the Mariners’ remaining offseason needs

Dec 20, 2022, 9:32 AM | Updated: 9:34 am
Mariners...
Seattle Mariners players celebrate in the infield after defeating the Toronto Blue Jays on October 7, 2022. (Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
(Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

In what is a slow news week for Seattle sports, I figured I’d take more Twitter questions for a mailbag. I covered a number of Mariners, Seahawks and other topics in my responses below. Thanks to everyone who participated, and Happy Holidays!

Let’s begin.

I remain steadfast that the Mariners should have been all in on Carlos Correa given their need in the middle infield and lack of prospects anyway near the big leagues. Yes, Correa’s 13-year, $350 million contract won’t age well in the back half, but I cannot be convinced that $27 million AAV would be debilitating in 2027 and beyond given inflation, expected revenue gains and the growth of MLB in general.

Correa has accumulated a combined 10.6 fWAR over his last two seasons, including a 4.4 fWAR for the Twins in 2022 despite playing just 136 games. Fangraphs projects him for a 5.0 fWAR in 2023.

That’s double the 2.5 fWAR projected for Kolten Wong, Seattle’s new second baseman acquired via trade with the Brewers. In a vacuum the Wong trade is just fine. He’s an upgrade over Adam Frazier, though just marginally. While Wong had a greater fWAR in 2022 (2.5 to Frazier’s 1.1), their combined two-year fWAR numbers are similar (Wong’s 5.0 to Frazier’s 4.7).

And that remains my biggest qualm with the Mariners current approach: Everything seems to be a risk averse half-measure when the opportunity to go all-in is staring them in the face now that the franchise’s contending window is open.

I’d argue the same is true for the Teoscar Hernández trade. I’m more excited about Teo, but he’s still a marginal upgrade over a healthy Mitch Haniger. Would you really be surprised if the two of them posted similar fWAR numbers in 2023?

Who knows, maybe Correa never wouldn’t have signed in Seattle if offered the same money or even a bit more than what he agreed to in San Francisco. But by all indications, the Mariners never even looked his way. That’s disappointing.

As a much smaller aside, I think Josh Bell’s two-year, $33 million contract was palatable, especially given the Mariners need another DH-1B type.

The Mariners still need a designated hitter and a left fielder. When I tell you that there isn’t a single free agent left that moves the needle for me, I mean that quite literally. (OK, maybe I’d have a bit of intrigue with a Michael Conforto signing.)

Who knows if and when the trade market might pick up, but it seems that the Mariners appear to be just fine with Jarred Kelenic as their opening day left fielder. I can’t fathom that decision for a team with legitimate World Series hopes in 2023. I’d love for him to pan out, just like every other Mariners fan, but we haven’t seen anything that suggests a sustained breakout is coming.

I think the odds that the Seahawks trade back from Denver’s pick go up with every Broncos win down the stretch. The Broncos beat Arizona in Week 15 and could beat the Rams in Week 16. Alabama’s Will Anderson and Georgia’s Jalen Carter appear to be the clear-cut pair of elite defensive linemen in the upcoming draft class. It’s conceivable that John Schneider would look to trade down and acquire additional draft capital if both Anderson and Carter are off the board by the time Seattle goes on the clock. That is, of course, unless Schneider falls in love with a quarterback.

Denver’s pick is currently slated to be No. 3 overall with three games left to play.

Seattle can assure it keeps Geno Smith in 2023 by using the franchise tag. The bigger question is whether Seahawks will be able to get Smith to sign a multi-year extension that lowers the annual value below the expected $32 million he’d receive on the franchise tag.

Those are the team’s two routes to retain Smith before the veteran quarterback would hit the open market in free agency.

To put it bluntly: Evan White isn’t part of the Mariners future, or at least he shouldn’t be. He has no trade value given his injury history and exorbitant contract. It would be foolish for Jerry Dipoto to anticipate White ever making an impact at the big-league level. It would be great to see White finally get healthy and produce consistently in Triple-A. Such a development would make him a potential trade piece or, at the very least, valuable depth in case of injury. But again, nobody should be banking on that at this point.

I can’t imagine the Mariners are even considering a Gleybar Torres trade following the Wong deal.

However, I am fascinated to see what happens with Marco Gonzales and Chris Flexen. At the end of the season, I would have told you that I expected both of them gone. But now it feels uncertain that much of a trade market will ever materialize this offseason. Seattle would surely love to move at least one of them. My guess is that Flexen will be gone and Gonzales remains on the opening day roster, but who knows at this point.

Yes, the Packers cut Sammy Watkins on Monday. No, I don’t think the Seahawks should look to add the veteran wideout. Even a receiver-needy team like Seattle is better rolling with the options already on the roster. Expect to see an increased role for Marquise Goodwin and an expanded use of two tight end sets.

Of all the questions in this mailbag, this is the one I wish I had an answer to. Pain.

5. Seattle Storm current jersey

4. Seahawks current navy jersey

3. Mariners current home Sunday jersey

2. Seahawks retro white jersey

1. Sonics Gary Payton-era jersey

Eggnog is disgusting, and I don’t understand the obsession many people have with it. The name alone makes my stomach churn.

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