The Seattle Mariners need to make moves if they don’t want to miss the boat in 2018. On Thursday, they acquired Dee Gordon from the Miami Marlins for three prospects. Gordon is going to move to center field for the Mariners, who have Robinson Cano and Jean Segura in their middle infield roles. Gordon should slot in as the lead off batter giving Seattle a top five that also includes Segura, Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Corey’s brother, Kyle Seager. A formidable lineup that should help the Mariners put up a solid number of runs in 2018. Seattle will take on all of Gordon’s $37 million left through the 2020 season, and a $14 million team option for 2021.
Most notable among the prospects traded away was Nick Neidert, the Mariners’ 2nd ranked prospect. Neidert, who was drafted in the second round of the 2015 Amateur Draft, has seen mixed results in the minor leagues. After strong seasons in Rookie and A ball in 2015 and 2016, Neidert stumbled in AA to start 2017 going 1-3 with a 6.56 ERA over 6 starts before being sent to High A Modesto. Once there, he was able to compile a 10-3 record with a 2.76 ERA and stellar 109:17 strikeout to walk ratio.
Losing out on Shohei Ohtani hurt. As one of the seven “finalists” in the Japanese star’s signing sweepstakes, the Mariners and their fans were optimistic about their chances. Ohtani would have put the Mariners in position to grab a Wild Card spot at the very minimum. They would still have had a tough time unseating the Houston Astros in the American League West. Unfortunately, he chose to sign further down the west coast with Mike Trout’s Los Angeles Angels.
Dee Gordon is a great addition, but he’s not going to be on the mound starting games for Seattle at any point. Felix Hernandez hasn’t been King Felix since 2015. He’s battled injuries, walked more batters, and simply hasn’t been the dominant ace he was a handful of years. I’m not ready to write him off, but if he can’t stay healthy in 2018 one has to remember what his future holds. James Paxton had a great season in 2017, by far the best of his career, as he went 12-5, posted a 2.98 ERA (but a 2.61 FIP) and struck out nearly five times as many batters as he walked. If he can find the same success in 2018, the Mariners have their number two starter lined up. Mike Leake, Erasmo Ramirez, Marco Gonzales and Ariel Miranda will be fighting for rotation spots when spring training opens in 2018, but the Mariners would do well to bolster their pitching staff with not only experience, but proven winners.
Free agency could be the answer. Seattle could go in on Jake Arrieta if they do believe the window to win is now, which it is. Yu Darvish is out there if they want to sign another Japanese star in place of Ohtani. Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb could be had at lesser prices than the first two, but lack the star power of Arrieta or Darvish. Ideally, the Mariners will snag Darvish, and either take a look at Cobb or make a trade for a fourth starter. Going into a season with Hernandez, Darvish, Paxton, Cobb, Leake would make the Mariners formidable. Adding some reputable help in the bullpen never hurts either, so look for the M’s to bolster their relief core as well.
With the MLB Winter Meetings in progress, all one can do is watch and speculate on what teams will do. The Mariners have a clear need and every team and player around baseball knows it. Fans in the Emerald City sure hope their team will rise to the occasion.