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The Seattle Mariners started to add to their infield this offseason by trading for Adam Frazier, but they still are in the market for another infielder. A potential fit that is rumored to be available on the trading block is New York Mets infielder Jeff McNeil. McNeil had a down 2021 on the field, and off the field he had an altercation with teammate Francisco Lindor. It appears McNeil is on the outs with teammates and management, and the Mariners could be a nice landing spot for the soon-to-be-30-year-old.

There are additional factors which contribute to McNeil’s availability, beginning with Mets owner Steve Cohen’s perceived preference to go all in, which could mean the club will chase big fish Kris Bryant, Trevor Story, Carlos Correa, among others, making McNeil available. The Mets may not want to wait for the former all-star to figure it out at the plate.

The Mariners also are reportedly in on bigger name infielders such as Story and Bryant, but with no guarantees, secondary options must be on the table, and McNeil fits the bill to some degree, and his career to date has been better than some may realize.

YearAVGOBPSLGwRC+BABIPwOBA
2018.329.381.471136.359.368
2019.318.384.531144.357.384
2020.311.384.454131.335.360
2021.251.319.36093.280.301

His 2018-2020 numbers are very good. Of course, he fell off in 2021, and McNeil missed over a month with a strained left hamstring in the first half of the year.

If the Mariners were to acquire McNeil, they would have him under club control for the next three seasons, which takes him through his age-32 season. He is projected to make $2.5 million in 2022 in his first year of arbitration this year.

Here is a possible Mariners lineup with Jeff McNeil, who, notably, has spent more time leading off than any other spot in the order, but carries all kinds of lineup versatility:

OrderPositionPlayer (Handedness)
1SSJ.P. Crawford (L)
22BAdam Frazier (L)
31BTy France (R)
4RFMitch Haniger (R)
53BJeff McNeil (L)
6CFKyle Lewis (R)
7DHLuis Torrens (R)
8LFJarred Kelenic (L)
9CTom Murphy (R)

An interesting wrinkle that could come from acquiring McNeil — or any other starting-caliber infielder — is how the likes of Abraham Toro is utilized as a result. Toro could presumably be the opening day third baseman, and adding McNeil could move Toro into more of a utility role. This adds depth, however, and having Toro on the bench and available as a quality switch hitter to fill in at second, third, and perhaps the outfield would offer Seattle something they didn’t have a year ago.

A deal for McNeil may be difficult to make since both the Mariners and Mets are trying to compete. Until the Mets have their infield set around first baseman Pete Alonso and shortstop Francisco Lindor, they’re unlikely to feel they can freely move McNeil, who can play both second and third. With their new big game hunting owner, however, they may be in on the likes of Bryant, Correa, and they do have J.D. Davis available to man third, suggesting the club is may be but one step away from using McNeil as bait to attempt to fill needs in their outfield and with their pitching staff.

Below is a comparison of McNeil’s numbers from 2018-2020 compared to some other players who have been mentioned as possible third base options for the Mariners. Notice anything?

PlayerAVGOBPSLGwRC+
Jeff McNeil (2018-2020).319.383.485137
Kris Bryant.265.353.481123
Trevor Story.251.329.471100
Carlos Correa.279.366.485134
Mike Moustakas.208.282.37270

The Mets’ potential outcast looks to be as appealing as some of the bigger names. Last season’s numbers fell so steeply, though, he now comes with recent question marks some of the others don’t. If he can get back to his prior form, or anywhere near, he might be the most attractive option of the bunch, offering well above-average production from the left side for cheap salaries over the next three seasons, helping the club maintain big-time payroll flexibility to help land the stars they still would be seeking. McNeil wouldn’t be cheap in trade, but it’s difficult to imagine he’d cost premium talent from the Mariners’ elite farm system, another reason he could be under consideration.

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Curtis Christianson

5 Comments

  1. While I won’t speak for Curtis here:

    1. “Why do you use McNeils 2018-2020, skipping his 2021; while doing the opposite for Story who has the same year splits, elite 2018-2020, down year in 2021. You compare them showing McNeil being better but it’s cause of how you cherry picked data.”

    It’s to demonstrate how good he’s been. To show the upside. It’s not cherry picking, it’s simply showing larger portions of data that may suggest the player is actually better than his 2021 performance. Notice Curtis never said anywhere that McNeil is better than anyone else?

    Also — this was done in plain sight. It SAYS it’s 2018-2020 data. It’s not done in attempt to fool anyone, and we know you can think for yourself.

    Also, I like how you make an accusation here under the ANONYMOUS. FOH.

    2. “Dylan Moore will be a bench /utility guy?”

    He’s not starting regularly for the Mariners in 2022, so, correct, if he’s on the roster at all he’s a UT player, at least to start the season. Performance and injuries dictate after that.

    3. “McNeil can play 2nd and 3rd as can Toro. Frazier can play 2nd and LF. Story can play 2nd, 3rd (and SS). Bryant can play LF, 3rd, and 1B. Looks like there could be room for McNeil AND a big name FA. It may depend on what the Mets want in return.”

    It is interesting. He doesn’t SOLVE anything by himself, but he might be a pretty good get, considering availability/cost, compared to other options. It could, in theory, allow Seattle to add TWO bats on the infield on top of Adam Frazier, or add two outfielders.

    4. “Allegedly McNeil has relationship problems in the clubhouse so they might be looking to move him.”

    What’s funny here is fans (mostly in NY) are blaming McNeil without any actual evidence it was McNeil being the jerk, or the cause of the issue. He didn’t have any notable clubhouse problems before Lindor showed up…

  2. Why do you use McNeils 2018-2020, skipping his 2021; while doing the opposite for Story who has the same year splits, elite 2018-2020, down year in 2021. You compare them showing McNeil being better but it’s cause of how you cherry picked data.

  3. Dylan Moore will be a bench /utility guy?

  4. An interesting proposition!

    McNeil can play 2nd and 3rd as can Toro. Frazier can play 2nd and LF. Story can play 2nd, 3rd (and SS). Bryant can play LF, 3rd, and 1B. Looks like there could be room for McNeil AND a big name FA. It may depend on what the Mets want in return.

  5. Allegedly McNeil has relationship problems in the clubhouse so they might be looking to move him.

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