It’s been a while since we have gotten to focus on the daily in and outs of the MLB roster, but once the games are ready to begin, Seattle and GM Jerry Dipoto will have quite a bit of work to do. The Mariners are not going to be battling for a playoff spot in 2020 (barring a miracle), so the focus must remain on getting as much information on their young players as possible, which means they need to see them play games.
With that as the main goal for the abbreviated 2020, Dipoto and company will need to make some obvious decisions to optimize their limited opportunity. With that in mind, here are three moves/choices/transactions that the Mariners will need to do before, on, or shortly after the first pitch of the regular season is thrown.
1. Trade or DFA Dee Gordon
As Mariners fans, we all love Dee Gordon. His massive personality, kind heart, and speedy style of play all endear him to the hearts of fans across the Pacific Northwest. However, there is no denying that his production on the field has been nothing short of poor. He never took walks, but he hit for enough average to make up for in Miami. But since coming to Seattle, his batting average has dropped and thus, so to has his OBP, to the point where it is just not viable to put him in the lineup every day.
On top of the poor production, Gordon will be a free agent after the 2020 season and is in no way, shape, or form, a part of Seattle’s rebuilding plans. With Shed Long ready to take over the everyday role, something he basically already did in the final two months of 2019, Gordon should be relegated to bench duties. But even parking Gordon on the bench has its issues. Because the Mariners can’t simply bench Gordon for 50-60 games, they’d need to either use him at shortstop, taking away reps from J.P. Crawford, or use him as a utility role, which would take away time from Tim Lopes, Dylan Moore, and even Donovan Walton.
While none of those three players are future starts, they all have a significantly better chance to playing their way into the plans of Seattle than Gordon does.
2. Waive Carlos Gonzalez
We were led to believe this had already happened, but an errant report from Jon Heyman (surprising right?), proved to be false. As of now, the veteran outfielder is still in the organization and is expected to report to Seattle for “Summer Camp”. But Gonzalez bat looked glacial in the first round of spring training, and in an abbreviated season, giving Gonzalez any plate appearances over the likes of Kyle Lewis, Braden Bishop, and Jake Fraley is a foolish mistake. Gonzalez was once a great player, but that milk has gone bad and there is no reversing that trend.
Edit: Mission accomplished. Gonzalez did not make the 60 man roster.
3. Give Kyle Seager the best chance to succeed
This is, admittedly, an extremely open ended third move. For starters, what does it mean to give Seager the best chance to succeed? And why does it matter? Well, unlike Gordon and Gonzalez, the Mariners can’t simply just cut Seager and move on. He is making too much money and is also still more than good enough to help your team. Seager made significant changes to both his body and swing in 2019 and after missing 2 months with a wrist injury, Seager looked better than ever for a 6 week stretch in the summer.
If Seager can repeat even 70% of that production for 40 or more games this year, it will do two things. First, it will raise the trade value of Seager and give Seattle a legitimate shot to move the third baseman. Second, it allows the Mariners to decided if they believe Seager is a part of their longish term future. It isn’t out of the question that Seager is the third baseman in 2021 and 2022. He is perfectly capable of producing 3 WAR seasons during that time period, and at his salaries both years, that would actually be a bargin.
There isn’t a third baseman in the system that is within two years of the big leagues and Seager can serve as the “veteran presence” to a group of young, up-and-coming players. Seager is a great fit for this role as he had to grind his way to the big leagues and has the work ethic that young players can look up to.
Whether it’s moving Seager up and down the lineup, giving him more extended time at DH, or more purposeful rest, a good year from Kyle Seager would make things a lot easier for Seattle.
There we have it. Three moves the Mariners need to make sometime in the next three weeks. Remember, the aim of 2020 should be to not block any of the young players who are MLB ready from providing you data for 2021 and beyond. If Shed Long can’t play second base, you need to know. If Braden Bishop can’t hit, you need to know. 2020 is all about the youth and Dipoto must do what he can to help them maximize their time in 2020.