Offseason Overview

Jerry Dipoto is a riverboat gambler. In the span of two offseason, he has almost remade the whole rosters, but he still has the core there from when he came into town. It is that core that is going to take them as far as they want to go. In particular, Felix Hernandez needs to have a bounce back campaign. If that doesn’t happen it may not matter what the new faces do.

Projected Lineup

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

Potential Rotation

Felix Hernandez

Hisashi Iwakuma

James Paxton

Yovani Gallardo

Drew Smyly

Top Draft Picks

The Mariners are an interesting team. They have three core players that would start for just about anyone. The key has been surrounding them with enough talent to compete. Picking just one of these core guys is a challenge, but if we had to pick someone it would be Robinson Cano. If he’s not the first second baseman off the board he should be the second. While Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager will be high draft picks, they won’t be that high.

The trouble with picking the top pick for a pitcher is that Felix Hernandez could qualify as a potential bust as well. Last season was the first time since his rookie season (2005) when he failed to start 30 or more games. Give him another half dozen starts and he ends up with his usual 14-15 wins. So, we’ll err on the side of optimism and assume he comes back with another healthy season.

Top Sleepers

It’s hard to look at Kyle Seager as a sleeper, but given the number of top notch third basemen around, he might have to wait awhile to hear his name called on draft day. Obviously, he isn’t waiting awhile to hear you call his name, but you get the idea. He is fairly consistently between 25 and 30 home runs every season with 90+ runs and RBI. No, that’s not Josh Donaldson or Nolan Arenado, but he should be a top five third basemen.

Drew Smyly struggled last season in Tampa, but now things are ready to turn around. He’s moving to a better pitcher’s park and if you followed the lineup ranking series you know the Mariners are setup to have the best fielding team in all of baseball. They finished tenth in baseball in defense efficiency rating and they’ve replaced Seth Smith with Jarrod Dyson and Jean Segura takes over at shortstop. He should be a big beneficiary of that.

Top Busts

Speaking of Segura, the offensive numbers he put up last year are simply unsustainable. In particular, he hit a career high 20 home runs (12 was his previous high) and had a .353 average on balls in play (BABIP). Even with a career mark of .314, we can expect that average to dip around 30 points. That would put him hitting around .280 with everything else being equal. We could probably predict somewhere around .270/10/80/50/25 as opposed to the numbers he put up last season.

I could list Yovani Gallardo, but you can’t be a bust if nothing is expected of you. That leaves Hisashi Iwakuma. He’s been surviving on smoke and mirrors for a few years now. Last season, he went 16-12 with a 4.12 ERA, but the peripheral numbers indicate that he should be ready to take a step back. A step back isn’t bad per se, but given the fact that he probably was a bit lucky last season means he could be overdrafted.

The Closer Situation

For a team that is looking to advance to the playoffs, the Mariners have one of the more unsettled bullpen situations. Steve Cishek will likely be the closer when he returns from injury, but he also could be Wally Pipped by Edwin Diaz. Diaz saved 18 games after taking over for Cishek. That could be an interesting situation to monitor as we move into the summer and both pitchers are there.

Top Minor Leaguers

The top minor leaguer in terms of impact has to be Dan Vogelbach. He is penciled in as the team’s first basemen. He began the year blocked in the Cubs system, but the Mariners were able to get him for Mike Montgomery. He was known for having prodigious power when he was drafted, but now the scouts rate it as good, but not great. He hit a combined .292 with 23 home runs and 96 RBI last season. He may not get to play full time, but if he does he could put up surprising numbers.

Tyler O’Neill ranks second in their system, but he is closer to reaching the big leagues than those immediately before and after him on the depth chart. He s only 21 years old and has massive power potential. He’s already hit 32 and 26 home runs in two complete seasons. He reached AA last season, so likely will start in AAA this year before getting his shot.

Surprising Statistic

Robinson Cano could end up becoming the all-time home run leader for second basemen within the next three seasons if he continues on his present pace. Jeff Kent holds the record with 351 as a second baseman. Cano currently has 266.

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