Insider: Mariners need to add bats, will have to make ‘painful’ trade

May 10, 2024, 4:12 PM

Seattle Mariners Scott Servais Jerry Dipoto...

Mariners president Jerry Dipoto (left) and manager Scott Servais in 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Historically elite starting pitching and a struggling offense – that’s been the story of the Seattle Mariners’ season so far.

Seattle’s starting pitchers recently strung together 21 consecutive starts of allowing two earned runs or fewer, which was tied for the second-longest such streak in MLB history and the longest since the 1915 Washington Senators. For a rotation that was already considered one of the best in the game, that historic run has only further solidified the group’s elite status.

Rost: Mariners can’t waste World Series-caliber pitching

However, the Mariners’ otherworldly pitching has been starkly contrasted by a struggling offense that’s been among the league’s worst. Seattle currently ranks 26th in runs per game (3.66), 25th in batting average (.222), 23rd in on-base percentage (.301), 24th in slugging percentage (.362) and 24th in OPS (.663). The Mariners also have a league-high 28.7% strikeout rate, which is more than two percentage points higher than any other team.

During Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy on Friday, MLB insider and former general manager Jim Bowden delved into the dichotomy between the Mariners’ lights-out pitching and sputtering offense. He said Seattle’s window to win a World Series is now, and that the Mariners need to aggressively pursue additions to their lineup so that they don’t waste their top-of-the-line pitching.

“I have ranked it the best rotation in baseball,” Bowden said. “Out of 30 teams, it’s the best. The Mariners rotation is so good that if they can make the playoffs, they have as good a shot as anyone of running the table with the pitching staff that they put together. That’s how good they are. … It’s not very often you can put together a pitching staff of this quality, where if you score enough runs, you can go all the way and win a World Series. So this is the year to do it.

“This lineup needs another guy in the middle that can carry the team, that can bang the ball,” he added. “Look, you got one of the best baseball guys in (Mariners president) Jerry Dipoto, … but he’s going to have to make a painful trade or two. He’s going to have to trade one of his starting pitchers that’s in the big leagues, and he’s going to have to trade two of his best prospects in the farm system, because the window to win is today. Don’t bank on next year or the year after. Nobody can put this pitching staff together. And when you do, you better win.”

Need hitters who can hit elite pitching

The Mariners are currently 20-18, sitting 1.5 games behind the first-place Texas Rangers in the AL West. Both teams hold big leads over the three-time defending AL West champion Houston Astros, who have stumbled to a 13-24 start.

However, both the Rangers and Astros have been decimated by injuries. When they get healthy, Bowden expects both teams to go on runs. That only increases the need, Bowden said, for Seattle to bolster its lineup.

Furthermore, if the Mariners make the playoffs, they need hitters who can hit top-tier pitching.

“You need a lineup of hitters that can hit the league’s best pitching, because when you get to October, you’re going to be facing the best pitchers in the league,” Bowden said. “If you take this great pitching staff and you make it to October, right now the only path that you’re going to have to go run the table is you’re going to have to win 1-0 or 2-1, which means your pitchers are going have to dominate.

“Now, think about who you’re going to be playing. You’re going to be playing an Orioles lineup, a Yankees lineup, a Rangers lineup that all hit good pitching. You’re not going to be able to shut out their lineups, even with the game’s best pitchers. You’re gonna be losing 3-2 and 2-1 or 4-2. That’s how it’s going to play. So you’ve gotta fix it and you’ve gotta bring in hitters – hitters that hit high velocity, that hit breaking balls, that put the ball in play. … You’re not going anywhere if you can’t put the ball in play against the league’s best pitchers.”

Potential trade targets

The July 30 trade deadline is still months away, but who are some potential players or trade partners Seattle could target?

Bowden said he would have liked to see the Mariners trade for two-time batting champion Luis Arráez, who hit an MLB-best .354 last season. However, the San Diego Padres already acquired the 27-year-old second baseman in a trade with the Miami Marlins last weekend.

Other names Bowden mentioned were three-time All-Star first baseman Pete Alonso of the New York Mets, All-Star outfielder Brent Rooker of the Oakland Athletics and two-time All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros – if Houston falls out of contention.

“It’s going to be a fluid situation,” Bowden said. “There’s not a lot of teams at this point that are willing to throw in the towel. And a lot of the teams – like the Oakland A’s, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins – don’t have a lot of pieces to trade. But you have to be sitting there aggressive, because unless it’s a superstar bat like Alonzo, I don’t think one transaction is going to be able to fix it.

“If you’re Seattle, you’ve got about 80 days left (until the trade deadline) to be able to go add a couple of bats and fix this offense,” he added. “And I’m betting on Jerry Dipoto. Big fan of Jerry and his work. He knows the game as good as anyone, but you got to get some hitters in there.”

Listen to the full conversation with Jim Bowden at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Bump and Stacy weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• What’s the biggest problem ailing the Mariners’ offense?
• Mariners RHP Bryan Woo to start Friday in return from IL
• Why Mariners should keep Josh Rojas in leadoff spot
• The Mariners who aren’t getting the credit they deserve
• Seattle Mariners farm system report: 7 early-season standouts

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