Last Updated on December 4, 2020 by Jason A. Churchill
But first, here’s what you won’t see below.
You won’t see the names of DJ LeMahieu or Trevor Bauer, for example. Nor will George Springer‘s name show up, or the likes of Marcus Semien or Liam Hendriks. It’s not that the Mariners shouldn’t have some level of interest in those players, but fit, cost, and other resources are critical this offseason to avoid roster conflicts, redundant skill sets, and misdirected roster spots and payroll allotment.
Reminder: Not every acquisition GM Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners make this winter need to be via free agency. Trades can, and likely will, remain part of the process. This list is about free agents only, and are listed in no particular order.
Jake Odorizzi, RHP
He missed time with a blister issue this past season but was very good in 2019 and has posted five average or better seasons over the last six full years. He’s as good a fit for a club looking for a mid-rotation level arm as there is.
Jose Quintana, LHP
The lefty didn’t pitch much in 2020 — 11 innings, one start — but he was solid in 31 starts in 2019 and hasn’t lost much off the heater. Last season was the first year since his rookie campaign Quintana didn’t get to 170 innings.
Rick Porcello, RHP
After a bad start, Porcello was solid in 2020 making all 12 starts and getting through 59 innings. He’s reliable and while the upside isn’t exciting, stabilizing the rotation is Dipoto’s goal this winter.
Jon Lester, LHP
The Tacoma native will be 37 in January and is coming off a sub par, 12-start 2020 campaign, but a rested, re-charged version of Lester has a chance to bounce back to 2019 form when he made 31 starts and was a little better than league average. A six-man rotation may be ideal for Lester, who saw his velocity fall under 90 mph and his strikeout rate dip under 16%.
Taijuan Walker, RHP
Walker was solid for Seattle and Toronto last season, and most of the pre-surgery velocity was back (93.5 mph average fastball). His newish slider, overhand curveball, and splitter all were inconsistent, but flashed as legitimate weapons. It’s a decent bet for Walker to go 150-innngs or more over a full season. He fits a lot of club’s needs.
Anthony DeSclafani, RHP
The 30-year-old right-hander was above-average four straight seasons until a dip to average in 2019. He was downright bad in 33 2/3 innings this past season and he’s managed 125 innings or more just twice in five full years — he missed all of 2017 with a sprained UCL — but he did toss up 166 2/3 innings over 31 starts in 2019 and his stuff suggests mid-rotation production remains in the arm.
Matt Shoemaker, RHP
The 34-year-old returned from ACL surgery in 2019 to cover 28 2/3 innings over six starts in 2020. He’s never been a big stuff guy, but he gets the most out of a 91-93 mph fastball and three offspeed pitches, including an above-average splitter, all of which play up thanks to solid-average command. Shoemaker is more a No. 4 or 5 with some durability concerns over a full season, but he’s interesting on a one-year deal nonetheless.
Carlos Rodon, LHP
Rodon can’t be counted on to pour out 175 innings in 2021, but the former No. 3 overall pick (2014) showed signs in 2020 of regained arm strength, and the changeup flashed. He’ll be two years removed from UCL surgery in May and that’s often when the snap returns in TJ recipients.
Michael Wacha, RHP
Wacha’s upside at this point might be 140-inning No. 4 starter, but he’s just 29, still touched 96 mph with the four-seamer and is due for a bounce-back with his changeup.
Archie Bradley, RHP
Bradley’s arsenal fared well in 2020, including a plus changeup that produced a 39% whiff rate. He’s 93-96 with the heat, the curveball still is a weapon and it all adds up to middle-innings value.
Mark Melancon, RHP
Melancon has fought through a few injuries to remain productive and consistent in the late innings. He’ll be 36 in March, has closing experience, and there are few signs he’s fading fast. His cutter-curveball combo is fun, though the cutter was beaten to a pulp in 2019 and 2020, suggesting maybe he should go back to incorporating the four-seamer.
Joakim Soria, RHP
Soria had a terrific 22-game season in 2020, producing a 2.97 FIP and a WPA that projects out to be his best since 2015. He’s a legit four-pitch reliever with a fastball 91-94 mph, 77-80 mph slider, a slow curveball and occasional firm changeup. He’s 36, but should be good on a one-year deal.
Pedro Baez, RHP
Baez served in the middle innings for the World Champion Dodgers and had mediocre-at-best season, but he’s been better in years’ past. He’s a three-pitch arm — fastball up to 97 mph, above-average slider, fringe-average changeup. With a rebound in command, Baez is again a valuable middle innings option.
Alex Colome, RHP
Colome, 32 on New Year’s Eve, had an odd 2020, putting up his second-best WPA and FIP of his career while posting his worst strikeout rate (17.8%). Colome hovers around 95 mph and the cutter remains a plus pitch, suggesting a rebound in the bat-missing department may be in order.
Brad Peacock, RHP
Peacock is a versatile arm with the ability to spot start and cover multiple innings out of the bullpen. He had arthroscopic shoulder surgery in October, but expects to be ready for spring training. When he’s right, Peacock sits 91-94 mph with a two-seamer, complemented by an above-average slider, average curveball and useful changeup.
Justin Wilson, LHP
Wilson likely is out of the Mariners’ reach as one of the more consistent left-handed relievers in baseball. He’s 33 now, but coming off another strong year, and sat 94-97 with a solid-average cutter. But if he wants to close, Seattle may be able to offer that and gain a leg up on other suitors.
Greg Holland, RHP
The 35-year-old sat 92-95, threw 51% sliders and 11% curveballs in 2020 — and it worked. How long he can effectively throw 60% breaking balls and stay off the IL. But if he can, he’s a solid middle reliever with some high-leverage ability.
Jeremy Jeffress, RHP
Jeffress has had two puzzling seasons. Make that… eight… Jeffress has had eight puzzling seasons. He’s 94-98 with the fastball and at different times his splitter and curveball are plus to plus-plus. His control and command are below-average, however, and the offspeed stuff tends to bounce back and forth and rarely overlaps with the other on the positive end of the spectrum. Still, he’s an interesting piece for Seattle as one of several bounce-back candidates.
Keone Kela, RHP
Kela’s forearm injury ended his 2020 after just three appearances. Now, if it was really a forearm and not an injury that leads to Tommy John, Kela has value for 2021 and beyond. He’s 95-98 with the fastball and his curveball may be among the elites in the relief world.jeffre
Jake McGee, LHP
McGee struggled badly for three of his four years in Denver and rebounded with a 1.67 FIP and 41.8% strikeout rate with the Dodgers this past season. He had reverse splits in the shortened season that were even wider than his career, but he had command of a 97-3 fastball-slider ratio. He’s 34, but still throws 95 mph and has earned some guaranteed money.
Steve Cishek, RHP
Cishek is 34 and two years removed from a decent performance, but he’s still throwing 90-92 with an above-average slider. He uncharacteristically had problems versus right-handed batters in 2020 but was oddly tough on lefties — probably a small-sample anomaly. If used to knife through righty-heavy sections of the opponents lineup, Cishek has a role in the middle innings.
Hector Rondon RHP
The 32-year-old has struggled the past two seasons, missing fewer bats (18.7%, 23.7%, down from 29%, 29.1%, and 26.8% the previous three, and his control has gone backwards at the same time. The rigth-hander’s velocity remains big at 95 mph or better on the fastball, suggesting maybe his issues are delivery related.
Nate Jones, RHP
Jones still throws hard — 96.2 mph average two-seam fastball in 2020 and has a useful changeup. But his slider has fallen flat the last three years and if a team can help him get it back they’ll find a very good middle-innings reliever with some high-leverage ability.
Kohl Stewart, RHP
Stewart was the No. 4 overall pick in 2013 and made his MLB debut in 2018 , posting a 3.92 FIP in 36 2/3 innings. He was knocked around in nine appearances in 2019 and did not appear in a big-league game this past season. When healthy, the right-hander is 91-95 mph with a sinker and offers a slider and curveball. He owns a changeup, but doesn’t throw it enough — it’s well below average — but there could be some upside to Stewart in a full-time relief role.
Adam Eaton, OF
Eaton is 32 this week and has had a full share of injuries over his nine-year career. He didn’t hit in 41 games last season — .226/.285/.384 — breaking a six-season streak of a .360 or better on-base percentage and .400 or better slugging percentage. He’s average in a corner outfield spot, struggles versus left-handed pitching but even in 2020 he hit righties well.
Tyler Naquin, OF
Naquin has two average or better seasons at the plate — his 2016 rookie year and 2019 — and is fine in a corner outfield spot. He struggles against left-handers but has a career .281/.329/.454 mark versus right-handed arms.
Ben Gamel, OF
Gamel has reverse splits over the course of his career — 107 wRC+ versus lefties, 92 versus righties — but has always appeared to be stuck between trying to hit 25 homers and hitting for average. He’s worked himself into at least a fringe-average left fielder.
Nomar Mazara, OF
Mazara, 26 in April, hasn’t broken through with the bat to the levels many expected — and he was awful in 2020 (.228/.295/.294) — but he’s too young to give up on, especially considering he was passable 2016-2019 batting .263/.320/.423 with three 20-homer campaigns. He’s at least average in right field and there still may be a breakout in the offing.
Brian Goodwin, OF
At 30, Goodwin can still run and despite struggling overall in 2020, can still be relied upon to post league-average offense if deployed properly. Oh, and he’s a good defender.
David Dahl, OF
Dahl was a budding star when injuries started to pile up on his resume. He has plus power and hit tools, runs well and profiles as a plus glove in a corner and average in center. Seattle doesn’t have a place for him, necessarily, imagine starting 2021 with a healthy Dahl in left field and hitting the deadline with a surplus that has a career .286/.334/.494 slash line entering the season.
Albert Almora Jr. OF
Almora is a capable centerfielder, but after putting up two-plus average offensive seasons to start his career, the former No. 6 overall pick (2012) has scuffled with the bat — .236/.271/.381 in 2019, .167/.265/.200 in 28 games in 2020. There’s little power in his game but he’s just 27 in April and still has solid bat-to-ball skills.
Kyle Schwarber, DH/OF
Schwarber, 27, isn’t a good defender but he has been surprisingly been playable as long as his bat is working. It didn’t work at all in 2020 (.188/.308/.393), but he did hit 11 homers and boasts a career .230/.336/.480 slash, including two 30-homer seasons. He’s really more of a DH, though Seattle’s best chance to get Ty France in the lineup is that same DH spot.
Brock Holt, UT
Holt struggled in 37 games in 2020, but has been a very capable bench option, posting a .337 career OBP in parts on 9 seasons. He also handled lefties as well as righties, and can play all five infield positions plus the outfield.
Jonathan Villar, UT
Villar had an awful 2020 in 52 games split between Miami and Toronto (.232/.301/.292), but owns a .259/.327/.400 career slash and posted a 107 wRC+ in 2019. His batted ball data tells us he struggled mightily putting the fat part of the bat on the ball — as much as any hitter in baseball. But it was just 207 plate appearances. He can handle shortstop, second base, third base, and has dabbled in the outfield. He’s a switch hitter with success from both sides and will be 30 in May.
Hanser Alberto, UT
Playable at second and third with a touch of outfield experience, clubs could do worse than Alberto as their 25th or 26th man. He doesn’t walk (career 2.6%), but he also doesn’t strike out, has a bit of pop and the last two seasons batted .305 and .283. He’s a right-handed hitter and may be redundant to Tim Lopes, but he’s also more accomplished at the plate.
Robbie Grossman, OF
Grossman, a switch hitter, boasts a left-handed bat which fits well into the picture for Seattle in 2020, as a strong-side platoon with Phillip Ervin as the Mariners look to cover time prior to the arrival of Jarred Kelenic in left field. The issue here is getting Grossman interested since the writing is wall he’ll lose PT once the club’s top prospect gets the nod — and that may be very, very early in the 2021 season.
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