Mitch Garver explains why he picked Mariners, adjusting to DH spot

Mar 1, 2024, 2:33 PM

Seattle Mariners Mitch Garver...

Mitch Garver of the Seattle Mariners poses for a portrait. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

After a few years of trying to rotate players at the designated hitter spot, the Seattle Mariners are rolling with a full-time DH in 2024 after signing Mitch Garver to a two-year deal in free agency.

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Garver, 33, has been a catcher for his entire career and has always been a great hitter as evidenced by his career .252/.342/.483 (.825 OPS) slash line, but staying on the field has been difficult as he’s played 100 games just once in his career, and that was in 2019.

Garver hasn’t put the catchers gear and mitt away just yet, but the plan is for him to DH every day for the M’s. During a sitdown interview with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk from Mariners spring training, Garver discussed coming to Seattle and that shift from catcher to DHing.

First off, why did Garver, who had multiple teams interested in his services this offseason, sign with the Mariners?

“They were just the frontrunner. This was the team that wanted me the most,” Garver said. “And they made it very clear that I would mean something to this organization, that I would be coming to the lineup as a leader, as a DH mostly, and be able to contribute on the catching game-calling side of the ball. So they were just very adamant about having me. There were a few other teams, but it was very clear that I was going to be a Mariner.”

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Designated hitters obviously have a very different type of game than fielders, and being able to stay involved with the Mariners’ pitchers and catchers will be a big part of what Garver does during games.

“It’s quite the adjustment, but I find ways to fill my time. I will study pitchers, study opposing hitters, try to game plan for the future,” he said. “And I’m always watching whoever’s catching that day, so Cal, for instance, I’ll be watching him, watching how he’s calling the game and I’ll be involved in the discussions when it comes in between innings. I fill my time with other things like flicking seeds at guys and dropping a cup of water on somebody’s foot. All that fun stuff.”

And by shifting to a DH role, Garver is excited to see what his final numbers could look like if he stays healthy and gets more at-bats than he ever has.

“I think that’s the key. And that’s something that the front office and I talked about when I was deciding to sign here was like, ‘We need to keep you in the lineup. If we can just extrapolate the numbers and get you a sample size of 500 at-bats, who knows what the numbers could be?’ I don’t know,” he said. “I mean, I’ve never done it before. I’m just trying to really take care of my body this year. And we’ll see where the catching part goes because it seems I always get hurt when I catch and obviously it’s a very dangerous position. The more I can stay in the lineup, I think I can contribute to the team a little bit more and put myself in an opportunity to have success.”

Garver started his career in Minnesota before being traded to Texas ahead of 2022. Garver was part of the Rangers’ World Series team last year, and Texas finished just two games ahead of the Mariners in the standings, but Seattle missed the playoffs.

How close are the M’s to the Rangers, as well as the Houston Astros, who made it back to the ALCS?

“Extremely small. Enough that 162 games had to determine the winner of the West,” Garver said. “So that just tells you how important it is for each game. I mean, winning games matters during the regular season, winning games in April and May and June matters. It’s about creating those routines and being able to win those close ballgames that’ll get you into the postseason. And this team is really not far off, man. I mean, they have the pitching, they have the lineup additions. This team has a lot of potential.”

Listen to Brock and Salk’s full conversation with Mitch Garver at this link or watch the sitdown interview in the video player near the top of this story.

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