Drayer: Digging into Seattle Mariners’ addition of Mitch Garver
Dec 24, 2023, 9:56 PM | Updated: 9:56 pm
(Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
The Seattle Mariners proved to be in the “Open your presents on Christmas Eve” club as they reached agreement with free agent Mitch Garver on Sunday afternoon.
The two-year, $24 million contract is pending a physical and not expected to be officially announced until after the holidays.
The signing is the first by the Mariners this winter and also the longest deal for a free-agent hitter in the Jerry Dipoto era. As the Mariners plan to use Garver primarily as a designated hitter, the signing also represents a departure from the philosophy of rotating players through the position that the team has employed since the departure of Nelson Cruz following the 2018 season.
With the move, Dipoto and general manager Justin Hollander begin to rebuild a lineup that has been depleted after the salary-clearing trades of Eugenio Suárez and Jarred Kelenic, and free agency of Teoscar Hernández. There is certainly room for the bat Garver brings.
In hitting .270/.370/.500 for an .870 OPS with a 138 wRC+ for the world champion Texas Rangers last season, Garver would have been atop the leaderboard for all Mariners with 300 or more plate appearances in on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. Among right-handed hitters in MLB with 300 or more PA, he ranked eighth in wRC+ and 21st in slugging. There is some strikeout to Garver’s game – 25.6% – but his chase percentage was elite in ’23, ranking in the 98th percentile.
The trick will be to keep him healthy, and that has been a challenge. Spending the majority of his time as a catcher, he has racked up an array of injuries in his time with both the Twins, who he came up with, and the the Rangers the past two years. Garver has never played in more than 102 games in a season due to numerous injuries, the most recent a knee sprain that kept him out of the Rangers’ order for two months last season. Taking away the catching gear could help considerably.
It is a solid move for the Mariners, and hopefully one that will be looked back on as a good first move in restructuring the lineup after the mini-teardown. If Garver can stay healthy, he has a history that would suggest he easily replaces and betters the numbers of any of the three aforementioned hitters who are gone from the lineup.
One down, at least one more to go with needs remaining in the outfield. For now, a small break in a turbulent offseason, and a promising sign with a much needed free-agent hitter signing with the Mariners.
More on the Seattle Mariners
• Morosi: Mariners ‘more focused’ on adding in free agency than trade
• What kind of bats could Mariners land if they trade Bryce Miller?
• Cal Raleigh: How Mariners’ new ‘offensive coordinator’ will help lineup
• Raleigh talks: M’s offseason, end-of-year comments
• Will Seattle Mariners trade a pitcher? Reports of interest pick up