Let’s forget, for a moment, about the current Seattle Mariners. At least, most of them. The present edition is on pace for a 66-win season in what general manager Jerry Dipoto deemed a “step-back” season.
(By the way, there are now four American League teams and the Miami Marlins on a worse win pace than the Mariners, and four others within three games above. That’s nine teams on a roughly 95-loss pace.)
Instead, allow us to gaze into the future to envision what the M’s might look like, say, three years down the road. We’ll have a little fun projecting some of the trade pieces and draft picks Dipoto has acquired the past couple of years.
It’s better than rehashing another bullpen blowup or opener failure.
The 2022 Mariners will be a much more athletic, defensively capable bunch – not a team full of designated hitters like the present (age listed in 2022).
CF – Jarred Kelenic (22)
1B – Evan White (26)
RF – Mitch Haniger (31)
LF – Kyle Lewis (27)
DH – Daniel Vogelbach (29)
C – Omar Narvaez (30)
SS – J.P. Crawford (27)
2B – Shed Long (26)
3B – Joe Rizzo (24)
Bench: OF Braden Bishop (28), OF Dom Thompson-Williams (27), Jake Fraley (27), INF Tim Lopes (27), INF Donnie Walton (28), C Cal Raleigh (25).
Call-ups: OF Julio Rodriguez (21), 2B Noelvi Marte (20), 3B Austin Shenton (24).
Haniger, should he return to 2018 form after returning from injury, would be the most valuable asset in Dipoto’s arsenal. He’s still young enough though to be the leader this team will need in 2022.
Kelenic, the centerpiece of the Edwin Diaz/Robinson Cano trade, will haunt the New York Mets for the next 15 years. He’s a complete player offensively and defensively and mature beyond his years. White isn’t a prototypical slugging first baseman, but adequate power will come, he will hit for good average, be an on-base machine and play Gold Glove caliber in the field.
The biggest stretch in the lineup above is probably Kyle Lewis, a personal favorite. The guy has power, is still a good (but no longer great) runner after a gruesome knee injury, and has a big arm for right field. The outstanding athlete just hasn’t been able to put it all together – yet. There’s still time.
SP – Marco Gonzales (30)
SP – Yusei Kikuchi (31)
SP – Justin Dunn (26)
SP – George Kirby (24)
SP – Logan Gilbert (25)
Closer – Austin Adams (31)
Setup – Wyatt Mills (27)
Bullpen – Sam Carlson (23), Erik Swanson (28), Justus Sheffield (26), Brandon Brennan (30), Gerson Bautista (27).
Call-ups – Juan Then (22), Isaiah Campbell (24), Ljay Newsome (25).
Gonzales is the least likely of this bunch to still be on the roster. He’s one of the few real trade chips the M’s have that could bring back a legitimate prospect. But like Haniger, there’s real value in having a veteran who was around for the “down times.”
Dunn has great stuff but has always been plagued by spotty command and control. He’s a strong mid-rotation guy if he can iron that out. Kirby is the exact opposite – a consummate strike-thrower without top-end stuff.
Gilbert is the big mover his this summer. Another guy with good control, his fastball has seen an uptick from his draft year and he has struck out 109 in 85 innings – with just 18 walks – between Low-A and High-A this season.
Carlson is another big arm to keep an eye on. He’s returning from Tommy John surgery and might pitch late in the season in the minors. He can hit upper 90s and if the injury makes him transition to the pen, he could be a closer in waiting.
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