2016 Recap: 86-76, Second in the AL West. As you can see below, general manager Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners had a very busy offseason. An offseason so busy that The Ringer MLB Podcast even made their own song for a weekly segment called “What did Jerry Dipoto Do?”. On paper, a lot of these moves do not seem to be game changers and some of the moves (why anyone would want Yovani Gallardo is beyond me) made it seem as if Dipoto didn’t really have a gameplan and was basically just bored. Whether it was by design or not, the Mariners appeared to have massively upgraded their outfield defense with the additions of Jarrod Dyson and Mitch Haniger to their everyday lineup. The Mariners have not made the playoffs since 2001 and it will take a big effort from a lot of their new players to finally get them back to the postseason.
Significant Additions: OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, OF Mitch Haniger, C Carlos Ruiz, INF Danny Valencia, LHP Drew Smyly, RHP Yovani Gallardo, LHP Marc Rzepczynski, RHP Casey Fien, RHP Chris Heston
Significant Subtractions: C Chris Iannetta, 1B Adam Lind, OF Franklin Gutierrez, OF Seth Smith, RHP Nate Karns, RHP Taijuan Walker, INF Ketel Marte, OF Nori Aoki, 1B Dae-ho Lee
Projected Lineup and Breakdown:
- LF Jarrod Dyson
- SS Jean Segura
- 2B Robinson Cano
- DH Nelson Cruz
- 3B Kyle Seager
- C Mike Zunino
- 1B Dan Vogelbach
- RF Mitch Haniger
- CF Leonys Martin
Seattle scored the third most runs in the A.L. last season and as long as they have Cano, Cruz, and Seager in the middle of their order, they will most definitely stay near the top of the league in runs scored. Nelson Cruz just capped off his third consecutive 40+ homer season and is still somehow overlooked when people talk about the best power hitters in the league. Jarrod Dyson and Jean Segura will bring a ton of speed to the top of this batting order, but I’m not convinced it will lead to a better offense for Seattle. Neither guy is exceptionally good at getting on base especially Segura whose career walk rate of 4.5% shows he should probably be hitting lower in the batting order. The trio of Zunino, Vogelbach, and Haniger all come with huge questions marks as all could be exposed at the plate over the course of the season. The Mariners will need one of these three to prove they can play everyday or this could become one of the worst bottom halves in the league.
Projected Rotation, Bullpen, and Breakdown:
- RHP Felix Hernandez
- RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
- LHP James Paxton
- LHP Drew Smyly
- RHP Yovani Gallardo
- RHP Edwin Diaz – Closer
- RHP Nick Vincent
- RHP Evan Scribner
- LHP Marc Rzepczynski
- RHP Casey Fien
As many questions as I have about Seattle’s lineup, I might have even more about this rotation. Iwakuma, Paxton, and Smyly all have big time injury concerns and have just one 200+ inning season between them. It really hurts to say this, but King Felix has officially been dethroned. Hernandez has lost a lot of the velocity that made him one of the best pitchers in baseball for so long. Hernandez was able to skim by in 2015, but it all came crashing down in 2016 as Felix’s strikeout rate fell to career low 7.16 per 9 innings. Throw on a career high walk rate (3.82 per 9 Inn) and a career high home run rate (1.12 HR per 9) you see the shell of what was a Cy Young pitcher. Yovani Gallardo is terrible. I watched him throw 118 terrible innings in Baltimore last season filled with walks and towering home runs hit by opposing batters. He is not the answer to any question any team has. Seattle’s bullpen should be good enough to finish in the top half the league again this season and new closer Edwin Diaz is a joy to watch. This bullpen will need to be at it’s best if their rotation continues to have injury issues they have had over the past few seasons.
Stud: OF Nelson Cruz. Cruz just continues to get better with age. Cruz has had three straight seasons with 40 or more home runs while hitting all with a .286 batting average over that span. Cruz is currently going as the ninth outfielder off the board, but I personally have him fourth among outfielders. Take Cruz and do not look back.
Sleeper: RP Edwin Diaz. If you weren’t paying attention to the Mariners down the stretch last season you probably missed out on the impressive 22 year old right hander that was mowing down batters at an elite clip. Edwin Diaz struck out 88 batters in just 51.2 innings while racking up 18 saves. Diaz is currently going as a top closer, but Diaz has a real chance of joining the likes of Chapman, Britton and Jansen as a top closer in all of baseball.
Bust: SS Jean Segura. With Arizona last season Segura hit .319 with 20 homers and 33 stolen bases an amazing season, but a season Segura had never come close to before 2016. Segura heading to a worse ballpark doesn’t help his cause, but even if he had stayed in Arizona a .353 batting average on balls in play was not likely to repeat itself and an insane 13.5% home run to flyball rate was also not likely to repeat itself even in a launching pad like Chase Field. Regression plus worse hitters park equals I’m not paying the price (53rd overall player) for Segura in 2017.
2017 Record Prediction: I do not like a lot of the moves Seattle made this offseason and even though you cannot really predict baseball, I am predicting more mediocrity in the Pacific Northwest in 2017. 82-80, Third in the AL West.
Check out our other 2017 team previews here.
Photo Credit: AP Photo
Statistics are courtesy of Baseball reference and Fangraphs
Projected rosters are courtesy of rosterresource.com and accurate as of 3/2
Fantasy ADP data courtesy of STATS.com and The NFBC