Rowland-Smith: What’s been ‘awesome’ about Mariners’ offseason

Feb 6, 2024, 3:44 PM

Seattle Mariners...

Members of the Seattle Mariners celebrate a win against the Texas Rangers on Sept. 29, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

It’s been a very eventful offseason for the Seattle Mariners.

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Things started off on a rather down note as it became clear the team wouldn’t be a major spender in free agency. The Mariners later made two trades aimed at shedding salary from the payroll, sending Eugenio Suárez to Arizona and attaching Jarred Kelenic to the contracts of Marco Gonzales and Evan White in a deal with Atlanta.

All that naturally led to questions about how the team would be able to address the holes it had on the roster and still contending for a playoff spot in 2024.

Since Christmas Eve, the Mariners have been busy adding to the MLB roster, and it can be argued that they’re in better shape now than they were at this time last year, especially as it pertains to the lineup.

The M’s signed designated hitter Mitch Garver in free agency while also trading for second baseman Jorge Polanco and outfielders Mitch Haniger and Luke Raley. They also added to the bullpen by acquiring breakout reliever Gregory Santos from Chicago.

“Just talking about some of these moves, all of a sudden now that we’re into January and February, we’re starting to see some urgency about 2024,” former MLB pitcher and current Mariners analyst Ryan Rowland-Smith told Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Monday. “As opposed to, ‘We want controllable players, we don’t want to invest in someone in X amount of years. We want to make sure that we have longevity with this roster’ and all these words that you just don’t want to hear. None of that. Give up some of these prospects and let’s go. Let’s get some guys in this lineup that can make a difference now. And I think the Mariners have done that.”

What makes the Mariners’ offseason even more notable, Rowland-Smith said, is who they haven’t traded. That would be their starting pitching.

With there being glaring holes in the lineup, it was expected that the Mariners woukd have to part with a young starting pitcher, likely Bryce Miller or Bryan Woo. But with spring training right around the corner, those two along with Luis Castillo, George Kirby and Logan Gilbert are all still Mariners.

“I said this at the end of the season, ‘You’re gonna have to give up one of your babies, one of your fan favorites, of these pitchers,'” he said. “Well, guess what? They’re all still here. You’ve still got Logan, you’ve still got George, Bryce Miller, Bryan Woo, Luis Castillo in your rotation, yet you’ve picked up a Polanco.”

“And then you look (at all the moves the Mariners have made) and you look and your entire rotation is still intact? It’s awesome,” Rowland-Smith later added.

The big question mark

The Mariners, on paper, have upgraded their lineup. But there is a disclaimer there.

Three of the Mariners’ four big acquisitions have their share of injury concerns in Polanco, Garver and Haniger.

“(Haniger in) 2023, he has an oblique injury coming out of spring training, then he has a lower back issue,” Rowland-Smith said. “And then you’ve got Polanco with a hamstring. You look at these little injuries that are like, ‘OK, is this something where this is going to be just a repeat factor?’ as opposed to, ‘Look, he dislocated his shoulder sliding into a bag or he had Tommy John surgery.’ Something where it’s like, ‘OK, that really stinks, but he’s on the mend and (should be)  good to go?’ And not to mention to Polanco is starting to get on the wrong side of 30 as well. So you look at some of those things and you factor that in.”

Overall, though, Rowland-Smith is a fan of the offseason to date.

“You have Julio (Rodriguez), Polanco, Mitch Garver, Cal Raleigh in the middle there and man, that’s a really good 2-3-4-5,” Rowland-Smith said. ” … There’s so many (injury) question marks, but the way it’s built on paper, what a huge upgrade offensively from last year.”

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Did Mariners just get MLB’s next breakout reliever in Gregory Santos?
• Morosi: Trading for Polanco was move Mariners ‘had to make’
• Mitch Garver has interesting insight on Mariners’ pitchers, trade additions
Where does Mariners’ pitching depth stand now? What Dipoto said
• Mariners’ Dipoto: Why longtime trade target Jorge Polanco ‘fits perfectly’

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Rowland-Smith: What’s been ‘awesome’ about Mariners’ offseason