MOVE #5: FREE AGENCY
A rebuild is no playground for free agency.
And although Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto hasn’t committed to the word “rebuild”, I feel certain that as he “re-imagines” his roster the man simply doesn’t possess an imagination wild enough to envision Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, or, hell, even Jed Lowrie in a Seattle uniform.
Still, tis the season...
Even if Stovey Claus intends to leave the Mariners a lump of coal this winter, the kid in us wants to predict a shiny new toy with which to play.
I’m shaking presents here! Trying not tear the paper. Cognizant of how much delicate work went into the ribbons and bows. And here’s what I’m listening for…
I want a younger free agent—no older than 31.
I want to sign a player to a three year deal without exceeding five.
I prefer an offensive player, and ideally a versatile one.
But every organization must have an eye out for pitching talent.
I need a player who will help me win now, but more importantly will be both available and viable once the team is finished with proposed construction in 2021 and beyond.
Here are the items on my shopping list, knowing full well that Mom and Dad can only afford one high-priced item:
MARWIN GONZALEZ (29) – Gonzalez turns 30 in March and displays no decline athletically, as evidenced by his playing at least 24 games at four different positions in 2018, including second base and shortstop. For the M’s, I envision a starting leftfielder with not only the ability to play nearly every position on the field but also a willingness to move about from game-to-game, and more importantly in-game. But the versatility of Gonzalez doesn’t end there. The former Astro is also a switch-hitter with enough power and skill—though not a ton of either—to hit just about anywhere in the order. There’s a reason all 30 teams in MLB are reportedly in on Gonzalez, which will surely drive up his value.
Average of last 3 years: 17 hr 70 rbi 268/331/445/776
Anticipated salary: 4 years, 60 million
YUSEI KIKUCHI (27) – In the role of fake Mariners GM, one of the first things that appeals to me about Kikuchi is his age. At 27, I might even expand my offer to 6 years for the lefty starter, but since Kikuchi is over 25 he will be subject to a bidding war. and it’s unclear how high that bid could climb for a potential # 2 starter (according to reports, as I’ve never seen him pitch). MLB Trade Rumors has Kikuchi pegged for 6 years, 42 million, which seems like a bargain to me. Of course, he hired Scott Boras as his agent, so the asking price could be somewhere in the ballpark of 10 years, 3 billion. But as long as we lean heavily toward the former salary, I’m interested.
AJ POLLOCK (31) With a better history of health, AJ Pollock might have cashed in on a 20-million per year deal this winter. Unfortunately, the former Arizona centerfielder has averaged 79 games per season since 2015. What’s tantalizing is that last healthy year of his—20 hr, 39 sb’s 315/367/498! Pollock’s age suggests he has a number of good years ahead of him, but the mileage suggests he’s a lemon. I suspect that one of thirty teams on the market will bid higher than the Mariners are willing to reach, but if the price is right Jerry could land one of his favorite ol’ Diamondbacks and play him in left field.
In the end, I suspect the most likely of the three names on my list to sign with the Mariners is Kikuchi, but if I had my choice I’d sign Gonzalez and march out an opening day lineup similar to this…
(Factoring in all five moves in my blog series)
CF Mallex Smith
SS Bo Bichette (move 3)
2B Robinson Cano
RF Mitch Haniger
3B Kyle Seager
LF Marwin Gonzalez (move 5)
1B Ryon Healy
C Unknown (move 6/to come)
DH Dee Gordon (move 2)
CF Mallex Smith
LF Kyle Lewis
SS Bo Bichette
DH Robinson Cano
RF Mitch Haniger
2B Marwin Gonzalez
3B Carter Kieboom (move 4)
1B Evan White
C Danny Jansen (move 3)
ADDED BONUS: PREDICTING THE MARKET
MANNY MACHADO – PHI
BRYCE HARPER – CWS
PATRICK CORBIN – NYY
DALLAS KUECHEL – LAA
CRAIG KIMBREL – CWS
YASMANI GRANDAL – NYM
NATE EOVALDI – BOS
AJ POLLOCK – TEX
J.A. HAPP – MIN
MICHAEL BRANTLEY – NYM
ANDREW MCCUTCHEN – ARI
YUSEI KIKUCHI – SEA
MARWIN GONZALEZ - NYY