Morosi: It’s ‘fair to ask’ if Mariners ‘maxed out’ how good they can be

Dec 8, 2023, 8:42 AM

Seattle Mariners pitching...

Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais makes a pitching change on Sept. 12, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The MLB offseason keeps rolling along and for the Seattle Mariners, they’ve been making moves of note, but for a different reason than anticipated.

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Seattle has made two big trades this offseason, linking up with Arizona and Atlanta in deals that were done to clear salary.

Last year, the Mariners had a payroll just under $130 million. As of right now, the Mariners’ payroll is roughly $92 million, per Spotrac.

That number will go up as additions are made, but reports have surfaced that the team’s payroll will not be increasing too dramatically. Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters at the Winter Meetings that the team wants “to do the best with the cards we’ve been dealt, I guess is the best way to say it.”

So where does that leave the Mariners for trying to improve their roster for the 2024 season?

“I think that they will (make moves), but they will be – I’m a little bit cringing as I say this – I think that some of them, maybe not all of them, but some of them will remind you more of the incremental moves they made a year ago,” MLB Network’s Jon Morosi said during his weekly visit with Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Thursday.

The entire picture of the Mariners’ offseason has yet to be painted, and Morosi said it’s too early to pass judgment on what the Mariners, and other teams, will look like come opening day.

“Very few teams have done much in the way of signing bats at this stage of the offseason,” he said.

“But if we’re having this conversation in a couple of weeks and if both (Shohei) Ohtani and (Yoshinobu) Yamamoto have signed and you’re seeing names like (Rhys) Hoskins and (Lourdes) Gurriel and Justin Turner and J.D. Martinez and even Cody Bellinger – I think all five of those names I just mentioned are possibilities for the Mariners and are players that would make the Mariners better – if you see all five of those players going elsewhere for money that we would have thought the Mariners could have been able to come up with? That’s a concern,” Morosi later added.

The Mariners entered the offseason with notable holes in their lineup. After trading Eugenio Suarez to Arizona and Jarred Kelenic to Atlanta in order to create more “payroll flexibility,” there’s even more question marks with the lineup.

“This team, honestly, has a lot of work to do to just get back to being as good as they were when the season ended, let alone improving on that,” Morosi said. ” … And if they end up getting to a point where they don’t have a lot of viable options in free agency because they can’t spend a lot, then they’re going to have to make some trades. They’re gonna have to trade from their pitching depth, which they don’t want to do. But they may not have a choice.”

And rather than be active on the free-agent hitting market, Morosi thinks the Mariners could trade their pitching for bats and sign another starter in free agency.

“That may be the other option for the Mariners here is they sign a Lucas Giolito, they sign a Michael Lorenzen on a deal that makes sense,” he said “… If the Mariners sign them then they can trade from their depth and add the bat they need. Maybe they end up trading for a Max Kepler with the Twins or someone like that. There are still possibilities out there. I think it’s just going to require a lot of a lot of creativity.”

Simply put, Morosi thinks the Mariners’ front office has been put in a very tough position.

“To be honest, they’re almost stuck in the middle. Because a team like the Rays, their payroll is like $50 million lower than what the Mariners have … and they’re perennially in the playoffs. Well, they’re so good at what they do and who they are and trading a lot of their name-brand players before they get expensive. They’ll probably do it again this winter, and they’ll probably still be good. They’re just so good at being themselves,” Morosi said. “Seattle I think has been caught in the middle a little bit. Are you a big market team? Are you a smaller market team? No, you’re kind of like a middle or should be a middle and above market team.”

“It’s fair to ask if they’ve maxed out about as good as they can be in the current mode of operations. It’s a very fair question,” Morosi later added. “And if they can’t build on ’23 and get even better in ’24, we may have our answer.”

Listen to Wyman and Bob’s full discussion with Jon Morosi at this link or in the player near the top of the story.

More on the Seattle Mariners

Drayer: Mariners officially add 2 new coaches to Servais’ staff
Former Mariners LHP Marco Gonzales lands with Pirates
Drayer: Where Mariners’ trade with Braves leaves their offseason
• Drayer: Good Ty France is hitter Mariners need, and he’s trying something new
• Morosi: After Mariners’ Suárez trade, ‘there has to be something next’
• It sure seems like Blake Snell wants to pitch for the Mariners

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Morosi: It’s ‘fair to ask’ if Mariners ‘maxed out’ how good they can be