Drayer: Mitch Garver feels ‘really valued’ with way Mariners see him
Jan 4, 2024, 3:40 PM | Updated: 4:10 pm
(Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Enticing free agent hitters to sign in Seattle has been a well-documented challenge. There’s the travel, the division, the weather and of course the pitcher-friendly ballpark. The team has positives to sell as well, however, and in his introductory meeting with the media Wednesday, new Seattle Mariners hitter Mitch Garver pointed to one aspect in particular the M’s could perhaps be using in their recruiting pitches.
“T-Mobile itself, I have not hit well at, but I also attribute that to the guys I’ve faced,” he said with a chuckle. “Going in there and facing Gilbert, Kirby, Woo, Miller, all these guys and you’re just like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ It’s one of those series where you kind of scratch and claw for runs, so I’m excited to be on their team now.”
All’s well that ended well for Garver and the Rangers, who left that final regular season with a 3-1 series loss to the Mariners, but hoisted a World Series trophy a month later. Shortly after, Garver became a free agent for the first time in his career. The Mariners contacted him early and were aggressive in their pursuit.
“The way they presented, how they saw me as a player made me feel really valued,” he said. “They really liked the player that I am and the player that I can be. They pitched a few things that I can work on and ways that they can help me. And I’m always trying to get a little bit better at stuff here and there. So it just seemed like a team that’s so forward-thinking.”
Garver is a clear fit for what the Mariners are looking for at the plate as they look to reduce strikeouts in 2024. He certainly has the pop, but he also owns a chase rate that is elite. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he speaks the Mariners’ hitting language coming in.
“I tend to control the strike zone,” he said. “I like to look for pitches I can hit hard and I usually don’t sacrifice weak contact just to put a ball in play. Like I’m not going to swing at something just to swing at it. And you know, things go well. I’m a line drive hitter that can that can hit a few out of the park and I can move the ball around the field a little bit. I’m not a one-dimensional hitter by any means.”
Garver will primarily fill the role of DH, something he began to transition to last year in Texas. Having observed a former Mariner while with the Twins, helped the process.
“It’s not an easy position to do,” he acknowledged. “But when I got into a consistent routine on how to do it, I became a little bit better at it. I learned a lot from Nelson Cruz, obviously. He’s probably one of the best DH’s out there. And being able to play alongside him and then on the other side of the field from him, as well, I learned a lot from him. So a lot of the things that I do now are just from watching him behind the scenes and being able to add that in my own game.”
Garver is not putting away the catching gear altogether, telling the media he will be the guy that “fills in as necessary” while continuing to prepare daily as a catcher.
“I like to be involved,” he said. “The last few months where I really didn’t have too much of a chance to get into the game catching, I still felt very involved. I was involved in the scouting reports, I was involved in the game calling, I was involved in the mid-game adjustments and the reviews that you do after the game. I always felt very obligated to be alongside Jonah (Heim). And we talked about the game as it’s going on. And we talked about adjustments that we might need to make or things that we see happening. And I think I have that experience that I can that I can bring to this team. I’ve learned a few things over the years. And obviously Cal (Raleigh) is a great catcher himself. And you know, he’s got a few years under his belt, but I do feel like the way that I’ve learned how to scout guys and everyone and how to scout myself and it kind of brings a different perspective on how teams can approach the opposing team.”
It will be interesting to see how the relationship will develop between the catchers and if Garver fits the part as “a guy who has been there” that Raleigh cited as a need the team had in his end of the year comments to the media. With seven years big league experience, three years in the postseason and, of course, winning it all, Garver brings good veteran experience and, by all accounts, is a great teammate. Raleigh has already touched base with him and Garver looks forward to getting going with his new team.
“It’s a really tough team to play against, especially the last few years with that pitching staff,” he said. “It’s a difficult team to face. A lot of talent, both in the starting rotation, in the bullpen, and then just the young players that they have that are obviously big-time players. It’s an exciting organization to be a part of.”
More on Seattle Mariners signing Mitch Garver
• What stands out as Mariners make Mitch Garver signing official
• Mariners likely not done after Garver addition, so what’s next?
• What’s the state of Mariners’ lineup with addition of Mitch Garver?
• Drayer: Digging into Seattle Mariners’ addition of Mitch Garver