Why ESPN’s Passan likes Mariners’ roster ‘better than last year’

Feb 7, 2024, 3:16 PM

Seattle Mariners J.P. Crawford...

J.P. Crawford of the Seattle Mariners celebrates a win with teammates on Sept. 2, 2023. (Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

(Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

It has been a busy, perhaps stressful but ultimately productive Seattle Mariners offseason.

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Though things got off to a rocky start before big moves were even allowed to be made, and while the first few trades caused concern with fan favorites and promising young players sent away, the state of the roster seems to be in a much better place now with spring training only a week away.

Did the Mariners truly find a way to get better over these winter months? Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk caught up with ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan on Wednesday morning to get his view on things, and in general he believes the M’s did.

“Yeah, I think ’24 is better than ’23 was,” Passan said, comparing the roster from last year’s Mariners team to the current one.

Passan didn’t necessarily go all-in in that response, though.

“It’s very easy to say that not just before the games start, but before I know starting pitching health,” he continued. “This whole thing hinges on the Mariners’ starting pitchers staying healthy, and they have managed to the last couple of years. That’s not the sort of thing that tends to be the case long-term. Listen, I hope every one of them stays healthy, I hope they go out and make the postseason, and I hope they bring Seattle what in the (darn) near 50 years we’ve seen baseball there they haven’t gotten at this point. But on paper, I like this team better than last year.”

Alright, point taken.

Aside from the team being built around a strong starting rotation, what about Passan’s read on the moves made this offseason by the front office led by general manager Justin Hollander and president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto? That’s where perhaps Passan seemed a bit more bullish on the M’s.

“If we’re just looking in the vacuum that the Mariners had ‘X’ amount of dollars and they needed to construct a roster within that framework, I think they’ve done a pretty good job,” he said. “I think that the individuals who they have brought in this offseason, the latest being Gregory Santos and Mitch Garver and Luke Raley and Jorge Polanco probably being the biggest of all, I think this is a good team, man.”

‘Value positive’ offseason for M’s

The M’s may have alarmed fans by trading Eugenio Suárez to Arizona and Jarred Kelenic to Atlanta in the early months of the offseason, but the moves since appear to have quieted the concern.

“I think the moves that they’ve made, even since trading Suárez and Kelenic, have been value positive,” Passan said.

An important point is that Seattle didn’t have to dip into its pitching strength or the highest levels of the farm system to make the moves it did.

“On the big league side, (the strength is starting) pitching, and they could have traded any of the four young guys – or five if you want to include Emerson Hancock – that they have and done well,” Passan said. “They similarly could have traded Colt Emerson, who’s their best prospect, or Harry Ford or Cole Young and gone out and gotten someone, but they haven’t done that either. I think the balance between 2024 and the coming years where these young players are going to ascend and join this core, I think they’ve done a really good job striking it, actually.”

Listen to the full Brock and Salk conversation with ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan in the podcast at this link or in either of the video or audio players near the top of this post.

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