Seattle Mariners 2020: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

How will things shape up in the AL West?

The Mariners’ rebuilding plan enters Year 2 of what general manager Jerry Dipoto hopes is perhaps a three- to four-year process to reach relevancy in the American League. A year ago, the Mariners started this plan by culling their roster of an assortment of veteran players in a series of trades designed to bring back young prospects to bolster depth in the farm system. Using players who really weren’t part of the future, the Mariners finished 68-94.

 

The philosophy changes in 2020, but the results likely will still be the same. The Opening Day roster is expected to be one of the youngest in baseball in terms of age and MLB experience. The plan is to give opportunity and playing time to their upper-level prospects. The roster should only get younger as players such as Kyle Seager and Dee Gordon are likely to be traded and more prospects added.

 

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Mariners

Seattle Mariners logo“It’s a fun team in a way because they’re giving opportunities for lots of guys to prove themselves, like we saw with Daniel Vogelbach and Austin Nola last year. I’d love to see J.P. Crawford get 600 at-bats at shortstop, because he’s a pretty good defender and you can tell he’s got offensive upside. You never know what you’ll get from Mallex Smith in the outfield, but his speed is a difference-maker. You wonder if they can get enough from Kyle Seager or Mitch Haniger to trade them, and there’s no real point to having Dee Gordon around anymore because they need to see if Shed Long is the answer at second. There’s not much in the rotation. Marco Gonzales has to be really fine to succeed — but he did a nice job of it last year — and Yusei Kikuchi was kind of a disaster, a contact pitcher who served up a ton of home runs. You wonder if Justus Sheffield was overrated as a prospect, but if he can overcome his wildness, he deserves a long look. The bullpen is a mystery, but Carl Edwards Jr. is worth a try.”

 

Beyond the Box Score

 

Shopping Seager A year ago, Kyle Seager was thought to be untradeable due to a “poison pill” clause in his contract that switched to a club option of at least $15 million in 2022 to a player option. But with the changes to the third base market this offseason, the Mariners had a handful of teams inquire about Seager. The hope for Seattle is that he builds off his strong finish to 2019 and increases his value early in 2020 to move him by the trade deadline.

 

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Dead Money The Mariners know they will have to take on some of the salary owed if they hope to trade Seager or Dee Gordon before the deadline. With that poison pill clause, Seager is owed more than $50 million over the next three seasons, while Gordon is owed $13.8 million for 2020 with a $1 million buyout of a 2021 club option.

 

McClain Delivers After driving Uber Eats last offseason for the extra income to allow him to live and train at the Mariners’ facility in Arizona, righthander Reggie McClain won’t be delivering Chipotle any longer. The reliever with a hard-sinking fastball moved up three levels in the system to make his debut on Aug. 2. He was added to the 40-man roster, made 14 appearances and should see that workload increase this season in the ever-shifting bullpen.

 

Tough Year Braden Bishop’s 2019 was halted by injury and frustration and ended in heartbreak. The speedy center fielder missed a prime opportunity to receive everyday playing time after he underwent emergency surgery for a lacerated spleen on June 5. He was hit by a 97 mph fastball five days before and played through the discomfort. But the pain of the injury and a lost season paled in comparison to the passing of his mother, Suzy, to early-onset Alzheimer’s on Oct. 5. Bishop established his 4MOM charity and campaign about raising money and awareness for the disease during his collegiate playing career at Washington. It has grown with the help of his teammates in the Mariners organization and players from other franchises.

 

Rule 5 Finds Thanks to solid production and a plus sinker/changeup mix, the Mariners kept right-handed reliever Brandon Brennan, their Rule 5 Draft pick, on the roster all last season. They hope the same will be true for righthander Yohan Ramirez, whom they took with the seventh pick of this year’s Rule 5 Draft from the Astros. Ramirez has a fastball that touched 99 mph with two breaking pitches. In 106 combined innings at High-A and Double-A, he struck out a whopping 158 batters but also issued 74 walks.

 

Projected Lineup

 

LINEUP

2B    Shed Long Jr. (L)

LF    Kyle Lewis (R)

3B    Kyle Seager (L)

DH   Daniel Vogelbach (L)

C     Tom Murphy (R)

SS    J.P. Crawford (L)

1B    Evan White (R)

RF*   Jake Fraley (R)

CF    Mallex Smith (L)

 

BENCH

INF   Dee Gordon (L)

C      Austin Nola (R)

UT    Dylan Moore (R)

OF    Braden Bishop (S)

 

ROTATION

LHP    Marco Gonzales

LHP    Yusei Kikuchi

RHP    Kendall Graveman

LHP    Justus Sheffield

RHP    Justin Dunn

 

BULLPEN

RHP    Matt Magill (C)

RHP    Yoshihisa Hirano

RHP    Erik Swanson

RHP    Sam Tuavailala

RHP    Carl Edwards Jr.

RHP    Brandon Brennan

RHP    Daniel Altavilla

RHP    Taijuan Walker

 

*Note: Starting RF Mitch Haniger underwent abdominal core surgery in late January and then had back surgery on Feb. 13. The Mariners have yet to announce a timetable for his return.

 

2020 Prediction: 5th in AL West

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