Mariners offseason moves could save their season

Updated: April 27, 2017

During the offseason, the Mariners were one of the most active teams as they made a ton of trades. The point of all the trades was three-pronged: improve the outfield defense, get younger and more athletic, and build depth 1-40. While the team is currently sitting at 9-13 these moves are already paying off in unexpected ways.

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The team traded for all-world defensive outfielder Jarrod Dyson in the outfield, but slotted him into left field to start the season as center was being manned by Leonys Martin. This made them really good in the outfield, but was maybe not the best use of talent at hand. Then Martin got off to an awful start and was rumored to not be listening to advice on how to get better. The team DFA’d him and moved Dyson to center with Guillermo Heredia getting a bigger role in left field. The defense doesn’t take a hit as Heredia is capable of manning center and the offense improves as Heredia has (thus far) hit better than Martin. A win for depth.

Mitch Haniger was the story of the young season and he could be a real big part of this team going forward. His defense in right was great and his bat was one of the best stories of the young season. Then a couple of days ago he got hurt. Disaster? Not exactly. It’s bad, but it’s not the end of the world because the team was able to call up Ben Gamel. Gamel is, stop me if you’ve heard this before, capable of playing center field and an above average defensive outfielder. He’s not Haniger with the bat, but he was the International League Player of the Year in 2016 and had an .809 OPS in Triple-A to start the year. He’s likely above replacement level and his defense will keep him in the lineup and the Mariners in games. Another win for depth.

How about Jean Segura? He spent a week plus on the disabled list and was replaced by Taylor Motter in the starting lineup. Motter has responded by hitting five homeruns and running a .941 OPS in his first eighteen games as a Mariner. Segura is back now and Motter is going to fill in at third if Kyle Seager needs a break, first base and possibly the outfield. A win for depth.

The big injury out of spring training was offseason acquisition Drew Smyly. He was meant to be a big part of the rotation and he was replaced by Ariel Miranda. He hasn’t been lighting the world on fire, but he has been good enough.

It’ll be a bit before Smyly is back, but now the Mariners are facing their biggest injury of the year in Felix Hernandez. The reports have him out two to three weeks, but the rumor is that he has “dead arm” which is probably just as bad as it sounds. He’ll be replaced in the rotation by 23-year old Chase DeJong and suddenly the depth doesn’t look so great. If DeJong can pitch decent until Felix or Smyly return, this team could have something.

They’ll also get some help in the back of the bullpen soon as well as Steve Cishek looks to be back soon. Him along with Edwin Diaz, Tony Zych and Dan Altavilla could be a dangerous crew.

It’s hard to think of a bigger hit than the one-two punch of losing Haniger and Hernandez. The Mariners weren’t playing great baseball before they went down and should definitely be considered an underdog in the Wild Card race at this point. That said, I’m not quite ready to give up on them yet and the depth that Jerry DiPoto built is a big reason why. This is a very dangerous offense that could carry this team until Felix and Smyly come back. If the bullpen is what we think it is, I would have no problem continuing to pick Seattle to break their postseason drought this season.

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