Five offseason moves for Mariners
Finishing the season at 75-87, the Seattle Mariners were once again a disappointment. 2012 was their third season in a row under .500, and their seventh over the last ten seasons.
While this team is young with plenty of bright prospects, there’s still work to be done before 2013.
The team is in a crossroads, looking to build off their strong farm system while staying competitive. While they have to sacrifice in some areas—such as keeping the rotation open—it’s time they sealed up old holes—such as the enigma at firstbase.
With plenty of work to be done, here are five things for the Mariners to focus on in the offseason.
5. Finally decide on firstbase
It’s time Seattle finally decided what to do with Justin Smoak.
For the third season in a row, the once super prospect was a disappointment, batting .217/.290/.364 on the season.
As is customary, Seattle eventually delegated Smoak to the minors. Once rosters expanded, they recalled him where he went on his annual September hot streak—Smoak is a lifetime .327/.401/.531 hitter in the season’s final month.
At 25 years old, the Mariners can no longer doddle when it comes to Smoak. They have to make a decision before 2013: trade or commit.
4. Extend Jaso
John Jaso was one of Seattle’s most under appreciated players in 2012, and it’s about time he got his due.
His .850 OPS and 2.7 WAR were higher than that of any other Mariner’s catcher. The pitching staff’s 3.41 ERA was it’s lowest when
he was behind the dish, compared to 3.86 when he wasn’t.
While Jaso isn’t a free agent, he is up for his last year of arbitration. At 29 years old and in his prime, this would be the perfect opportunity for Seattle to keep him around another two to three years.
3. Sign an outfielder
This is the perfect spot for the M’s to sign a veteran with some right handed power.
The best two options would be Nick Swisher or Cody Ross. They’re the same age, had nearly identical stats in 2012 and have great team personalities. They would bring great veteran presence and could slide in nicely at fifth or sixth in the order.
2. Find a new manager
Eric Wedge has done his duty in Seattle, but moving forward it’s time for Seattle to depart from their manager.
While Wedge garnered more wins in 2012 than he did in 2011, the Mariners were once again well under .500 and in last place in the division.
Two things that stuck out about Wedge’s performance in 2012 was lineup tinkering and bullpen use. Let’s just say, it became a big deal when Seattle had the same lineup two days in a row, or got through a game using less than four pitchers.
With plenty of possible replacements out there, Dave Martinez—bench coach of the Tampa Bay Rays—seems like the best fit. He’s trained under a guru in Joe Maddon, and knows what it’s like to run a young pitching-first ballclub.
1. Shore up the rotation
With their trifecta of prospects, the Mariner’s future rotation is pretty well set. But until those arms are ready, they won’t be a big factor in 2013.
Assuming Seattle holds on to Jason Vargas, they’ll have two men set for next years rotation—Vargas and Felix Hernandez.
For where they are in their development, the M’s need to be shopping for innings. The bullpen was overused in 2012, which had to do with the fact that they only had two 200 inning guys in their rotation.
I would love to see the Mariners sign a couple mid-rotation inning eaters before next season. This would help pave the way for when the prospects take over.
I really like Anibal Sanchez. He’s a solid pitcher who consistently eats up innings. He would require multiple years, but he’d be perfect as a No. 3 guy in Seattle.
Then the M’s would need to look to some one-year deals that will get them through the season with innings. A Jeremy Guthrie type pitcher would be perfect for this.