ESPN’s Schoenfield: Mariners failing to capitalize on their best window

Dec 7, 2023, 8:13 AM

Seattle Mariners Texas Rangers Corey Seager...

Corey Seager of the Texas Rangers runs the bases against the Seattle Mariners on Sept. 22, 2023. (Sam Hodde/Getty Images)

(Sam Hodde/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners have been active to start the offseason, but not in a way fans of the team were hoping for.

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The M’s have made two of the bigger trades of the offseason, sending Eugenio Suárez to Arizona, and later Jarred Kelenic, Evan White and Marco Gonzales to Atlanta. The moves weren’t done to bring in needed talent to the MLB roster, but rather to get rid of salaries to give the front office more payroll flexibility.

What ultimately happens with that recently acquired payroll flexibility remains to be seen, but with the Mariners appearing very unlikely to increase their payroll in a major way for 2024, one ESPN writer thinks the team is making a mistake.

“You had a good product three years in a row. You’ve shown you can compete in a tough division,” ESPN’s David Schoenfield told Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy on Wednesday. “… Look, I get you want to have that sustainability.”

Where it gets frustrating, Schoenfield says, is that the Mariners have a really good opportunity to contend over the next few years, but limited payroll is making that harder to achieve.

“I think the frustrating part for the Mariners is their best window, in my opinion, is 2024 and 2025 because you have George Kirby and Logan Gilbert and Bryce Miller when they’re all inexpensive, so you can build a team around those inexpensive young players,” he said. “Well, if those guys stay good, they’re gonna get more expensive, Julio’s contract is going to start paying him a lot more and then you’ve got to start thinking, ‘Well, we’ve got to trade more players because our payroll is getting too high because our owner doesn’t want to spend money.’ That’s what’s tough about what’s going on right now is they had a really good window these next two seasons to go all-in and they’re not going to do it.”

Trade rumors with the Rays

The Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays have gotten together for plenty of trades since Jerry Dipoto took over at the end of 2015, and according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the two teams have talked again this offseason.

The Rays need starting pitching, which the Mariners have plenty of. The Mariners, meanwhile, need help in the lineup, and Tampa is reportedly willing to deal from its group of position players.

Third baseman Isaac Parades, who is 24 and hit 31 home runs last year, and All-Star outfielder Randy Arozarena, 28, have reportedly been discussed as potential pieces going to Seattle.

” think there’s a potential match there,” Schoenfield said. “Isaac Parades, third baseman, he hit 31 homers last year and is only set to make $3.2 million or so in arbitration. And then Randy Arozarena, we know him, good player, nice outfielder, would be a big addition to left field and is set to only make $9 million. So I don’t know if Seattle can get both of those guys, and the Rays are probably going to be asking for Logan Gilbert. You’re not getting one of those two guys for Bryan Woo.”

What else could the Mariners do? 

Schoenfield likes the idea of the Mariners trading for Parades to play third base and signing a veteran designated hitter to join the middle of the lineup.

This year’s free-agent market isn’t the best or deepest when it comes to hitters, but there are some notable DH options out there.

“We all know the Mariners haven’t had a great DH since Nelson Cruz. You’ve got J.D. Martinez, you’ve got Jorge Soler, you’ve got Justin Turner,” Schoenfield said. “Those are older guys. You could bring them in on a one-year contract and it’s not going to wreck the payroll. All three had good years last year … I think one of those DHs would be a nice fit, but the Mariners, they’ve had issues at DH and have refused to fix that problem for years.”

“The DHs, J.D. Martinez is probably like a one-year, $15 million (contract) or something like that from what we’re hearing,” Schoenfield later added. “That fits into the budget and you’re adding two power hitters to your lineup. I think that would work. Yeah, you’re gonna give up one of your pitchers. You’re gonna give up a Woo or a Miller, and yeah, you just traded Gonzales, so your depth is hurting. But you still might have a little room to sign a low-tier No. 5  veteran kind of free-agent pitcher.”

Listen to the full fourth hour of Wednesday’s Bump and Stacy at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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ESPN’s Schoenfield: Mariners failing to capitalize on their best window