Seattle Mariners 2019: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

How will things shape up in the AL West?

The Mariners’ postseason drought, which dates back to 2001 — the longest active streak without a playoff appearance for any of the four major sports in North America — will likely continue for another season. It’s an outcome they are willing to accept in hopes of more sustained success in the years to come. 


As part of a rebuild — GM Jerry Dipoto is calling it a “stepback” — the Mariners culled the roster of several players in their 30s who had expensive contracts or were in their final years of arbitration and headed for free agency. Beginning in early November, Dipoto made nine trades that removed nine contributing players from the Mariners’ 25-man roster, including top pitcher James Paxton, closer Edwin Diaz, shortstop Jean Segura, catcher Mike Zunino and second baseman Robinson Cano. Dipoto admits the team likely won’t match the 89 wins of last season, but will the Mariners even win 70 games in 2019?

 

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Mariners

Baltimore Orioles logo“They gave it a go for a while, but rebuilding aggressively is the smart play by GM Jerry Dipoto. They got some good prospects from the Mets in the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz trade, but I’m less sold on J.P. Crawford, who comes over from Philly to replace Jean Segura at shortstop. He’s a duck-footed guy in the field, and while he’s got a good approach at the plate, he swings a wet newspaper up there. They got Justus Sheffield from the Yankees in the James Paxton trade, and while he’s worth a shot, I think he’s a bit overrated. They also overrate starter Marco Gonzales, who had a good season but should have been moved while his value was high. They finally gave up on Mike Zunino behind the plate and got his polar opposite as a hitter in outfielder Mallex Smith, a speed-and-contact guy who might be a regular, but might just be a fourth outfielder. Mitch Haniger is the best player here, by far. As the losses pile up this summer, look for Dipoto to trade him as he gathers as much future talent as he can.”


Beyond the Box Score

Fan Favorite The Mariners will open the 2019 season in Tokyo, Japan, with two games vs. the Oakland A’s at the Tokyo Dome. They are technically home games for Oakland, but Seattle will be the crowd favorite. Why? Because the Mariners plan to carry 45-year-old Ichiro Suzuki on their roster for the two exhibition games and two regular-season games in Japan. Ichiro was signed as a free agent last season and played for the first two months before moving to a front office role as “special advisor to the chairman.” But he’ll be back on a minor league contract with an invitation to MLB spring training. GM Jerry Dipoto already confirmed that Ichiro, barring injury, would be on the Mariners’ expanded roster for the Japan trip. 


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New Name For the first time since opening in 1999, the baseball stadium where the Mariners play home games will be called something other than Safeco Field. The Mariners and the Bellevue-based telecommunications giant T-Mobile announced a 25-year naming rights agreement for the venue to be called T-Mobile Park. The Mariners will receive $87.5 million for the naming rights, an annual average of $3.5 million. The naming rights agreement with Safeco ended after the 2018 season. In 2017, the insurance company elected not to renew its agreement with the Mariners. 


Controversy The Mariners dealt with unexpected off-the-field controversy in the offseason when Dr. Lorena Martin, hired by Dipoto to serve as the team’s “director of high performance,” accused the organization — specifically Dipoto, manager Scott Servais and director of player development Andy McKay — of racist and sexist behavior. Dipoto decided to fire Martin just a year into her three-year contract. Martin responded by levying her allegations on social media and then in one media interview. She later filed a lawsuit against the Mariners for wrongful termination. The Mariners denied her allegations. 


Too Tough To Trade The Mariners had hoped to trade third baseman Kyle Seager as part of their rebuild. But a stipulation in his contract reduced that possibility. Seager is owed $19 million in 2019 and in 2020 and $18 million in 2021. But a “poison pill clause” in his contract states that his 2022 club option automatically becomes an exercisable player option if he’s traded. The 2022 option starts at $15 million and can increase to another $5 million to $20 million based on plate appearances and other milestones. The Mariners are committed to Seager for three years and $56 million. But any team acquiring Seager would likely be committed to four years and a minimum of $71 million. 


Projected Lineup

 

LINEUP

CF  Mallex Smith (L)
RF  Mitch Haniger (R)
3B  Kyle Seager (L)
DH Edwin Encarnacion (R)
LF   Jay Bruce (L)
1B  Ryon Healy (R)
C    Omar Narvaez (L)
2B  Dee Gordon (L)
SS  J.P. Crawford (L)

 

BENCH

OF  Domingo Santana (R)
C    Jose Lobaton (R)
UT  Kristopher Negron (R)
INF Daniel Vogelbach (L)

 

ROTATION

RHP  Felix Hernandez
LHP  Yusei Kikuchi
LHP  Marco Gonzales
RHP  Mike Leake
LHP  Wade LeBlanc

 

BULLPEN

RHP  Anthony Swarzak (C)
RHP  Chasen Bradford

RHP  Hunter Strickland

RHP  Brandon Brennan
RHP  Dan Altavilla
RHP  Nick Rumbelow
LHP  Zac Rosscup

 

2019 PREDICTION

4th AL West 

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