JOE FANN

Fann: 7 remaining free agents Mariners could add at DH, other voids

Jan 3, 2023, 1:30 PM
Mariners Orioles Trey Mancini...
Trey Mancini of the Baltimore Orioles follows through on a swing against the Mariners on Sept. 4, 2018. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)

The calendar has turned to 2023 and the Mariners still have plenty of holes to fill on the roster. That includes a designated hitter and rotational pieces at third base, first base and left field.

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Right now the Mariners don’t have a DH, and depth is needed behind Ty France, Eugenio Suárez and… Jarred Kelenic?

Let’s be honest, none of the names below are going to move the needle for you much. It’s a list of aging bats that would almost assuredly sign a one-year deal. Given the absence of a bona fide, prototype DH, whoever is added must have position versatility. It’s clear that the DH role will be a sum-of-the-parts rotation in 2023.

That means it’s conceivable Seattle could sign more than one of these players.

1. Trey Mancini (31 years old for 2023 season)

The longtime Oriole is the youngest player on this list, and his position versatility is immense. He could serve as the backup at first base and in left, though his defense is below average. Mancini’s bat has enough pop in it to make you feel better about him being your primary DH.

Mancini hit 18 homers in 143 games in 2022 with the Orioles and Astros and posted at least 20 long balls over his previous four seasons. He’s only had one season out of six with a wRC+ below the league average of 100 (93 in 2018).

2. Brandon Belt (35)

Belt’s 2022 season was ended after just 78 games due to a knee injury, and he hasn’t played more than 100 games since 2019. It’s hard to justify banking on a bounceback season for a 35 year old, but Belt might have as much offensive upside as anyone on this list. The longtime Giants first baseman posted a wRC+ of 171 in 2020 and 157 in 2021. There might still be some magic in Belt’s back, assuming his knee will allow him to begin spring training on time. His left-handed bat is another plus compared to this list full of righties.

3. Luke Voit (32)

Voit has the most home run upside on this list with 20-plus homers in three of his last four seasons (11 in only 68 games in 2021), although his strikeout percentage is unsightly. It has been north of 30% in each of the last two seasons. That might make him a non-starter with Suárez also being a 30% strikeout guy.

4. A.J. Pollock (35)

Pollock played all of his 138 games in the outfield in 2022, which is encouraging given his age. His wRC+ dipped below 100 (92) for the first time since 2013 (not counting his 89 in 2016 when he played just 12 games). Does that mean that a steep decline is in order in 2023 or is there still some consistent production left in his bat? Pollock doesn’t walk (just 6.1% in 2022) but his strikeout numbers are OK (18.6% in 2022).

5. Adam Duvall (33)

Duvall smacked a ridiculous 38 home runs in 2021 but hit just 12 in 86 games in 2022 after a wrist injury ended his season in July. He’s a high-strikeout (32.1% in 2022), low-average player (.213), and he rarely walks (6.7%). However, in addition to his power he provides potentially the best outfield defense among anyone else listed here.

6. Josh Harrison (35)

Harrison provides position versatility to be a backup at third base and in left field. He doesn’t have the power numbers you’d want out of a designated hitter but he hits for contact and posted a .297 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Harrison has never had a strikeout rate above 19%. Given the Mariners have plenty of home run-hitting power elsewhere in the lineup (they tied for ninth with 197 home runs in 2022), Harrison’s profile might make for an OK fit even though it’s non-traditional for a designated hitter.

7. Jurickson Profar (30)

The veteran switch-hitter is coming off the best season of his career with a 2.5 fWAR. His previous best was a 1.9 fWAR back in 2018. Profar hit 15 homers with a career-high 82 runs scored for the Padres in 2022 and played 146 games in left field. The issue is that Profar only has three career seasons with a wRC+ of more than 100, which makes his 2022 campaign hard to trust. However, any belief that he could be a late bloomer would make him worthy of a one-year deal.

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