The Big Mariners Debate: Stacy Rost squares off with Mike Salk

Jun 4, 2023, 11:46 AM | Updated: 11:52 am

The offseason between the 2022 and 2023 MLB campaigns was seen as the biggest in Seattle Mariners history. Unfortunately, what they did in that offseason has so far fallen flat.

On Friday, Seattle Sports’ Mike Salk and Stacy Rost squared off in a debate to discuss whether that explains what are the issues for the Mariners right now.

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While the M’s are coming off back-to-back 90-win seasons, the most recent of which came with their first playoff appearance since 2001 and included a Wild Card Series win over Toronto, they entered Sunday with a mediocre and decidedly disappointing 29-29 record. That places them fourth in the five-team American League West, which is 8 1/2 games behind the division-leading Texas Rangers.

That’s where we get into the meat of this conversation.

The Rangers, who have won the first two games of Seattle’s current three-game series in Texas, are 37-20 after going just 68-94 last season, and the way they’ve done it is mostly through free agency. They have spent over $800 million combined the past two offseasons on free agents, namely All-Star infielders Marcus Semien and Corey Seager plus starting pitcher Jon Gray ahead of the 2022 campaign, then two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, one-time All-Star pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and veteran southpaw Andrew Heaney prior to this year.

Those signings make the Mariners’ activity in free agency pale in comparison, and it paints an ugly picture as the Rangers lead MLB in runs scored with 364 in just 57 games (the second-place team, the Tampa Bay Rays, have 349 runs in 61 games) while Seattle is 18th with 255 runs in 58 contests.

Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto has called the M’s a “draft, develop and trade” team, and while he did go into last offseason saying the team would spend money when the time is right, so far the money has been spent on extensions for players they either developed themselves (Julio Rodríguez) or traded for (Luis Castillo), with free-agency addition Robbie Ray prior to 2022 the notable exception.

Rost’s overarching question is when Plan A proves to come up short, what’s the next move for the Mariners? And when it comes to that, why hasn’t their plan included committing money to free agents like the Rangers have?

As for Salk, he has been preaching the Mariners’ own “Patience is the shortcut” mantra for a while now, and he believes the “draft, develop and trade” approach is at least partly because hitters aren’t rushing to play at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park, which has been the worst park in MLB for offense over the past three seasons per Statcast. He also thinks the Mariners’ big problem on offense has to do with their hitters not producing like they did last year, which he said wasn’t expected, as opposed to the process that brought them to Seattle’s roster.

Rost followed up Saturday with a Twitter thread well worth reading in which she further explained her stance, which you can read at the bottom of this post. To hear the debate, watch the video up top, or hear the full segment in the podcast here:

More on the Seattle Mariners

Drayer: Are Mariners in better shape than at this point last year?
Lefko: The Mariners are looking at a season-defining stretch
Fann: Mariners still stuck in neutral with pivotal stretch next
Jerry Dipoto previews the Mariners’ 2023 trade deadline path
ESPN’s Kurkjian expects Seattle Mariners “aggressive” in trades, but there’s a catch

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The Big Mariners Debate: Stacy Rost squares off with Mike Salk