SEATTLE – For the second straight season, the World Series champion comes from the American League West.
Can the Seattle Mariners take any solace in the fact that they were eliminated by the eventual World Series champion for the second straight season?
Yeah, probably not, since the Texas Rangers moved right past them in the baseball hierarchy.
With the World Series finished, a seminal offseason begins for the Mariners, who failed to meet lofty expectations in 2023.
Thursday though Tuesday
The day after the final out of the World Series, players who have expiring major league contracts or expiring club control become free agents. The Mariners have three players on the 40-man roster who will become free agents:
• Teoscar Hernandez, OF
• Tom Murphy, C
• Dominic Leone, RHP
There is a five-day window for teams negotiate with their expiring free agents before other teams can make official offers.
The Mariners were vocal in their desire to sign Murphy to a contract extension, believing he was a key contributor on and off the field. But after a fractured thumb put him on the injured list on Aug. 16 and kept him out for the rest of the season, there was no extension or much discussion surrounding one.
Murphy has been plagued by fluke injuries since his breakout 2019 season. But the Mariners don’t have a catcher in the organization who would fill the role and responsibilities to Murphy’s level.
This is also the first day that teams can make trades involving major league players or a sort of “MLB Prime Day” for Jerry Dipoto, Mariners president of baseball operations.
The winners of the Rawlings Gold Gloves will be announced on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight,” which airs from 4:30 to 5:40 p.m. Fan voting for the Platinum Glove – the overall winner in each league will begin immediately after the show.
The Mariners have one finalist: Julio Rodriguez.
It will be a busy day for the MLB offseason.
The finalists for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Awards will be announced at 3 p.m. on MLB Network. Three finalists for the Most Valuable Player Award, Cy Young Award, Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award and Manager of the Year Award in each league will be announced.
While he isn’t likely to win the AL MVP, Rodriguez has a decent chance to be named as one of three finalists.
Angels pitchers/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani is the favorite to win the award, despite missing the last month of the season due to injury. Rangers shortstop Corey Seager is expected to be a finalist as well despite two trips to the injured list.
That leaves Rodriguez or Rangers second baseman Marcus Semien as the top candidates to complete the trio of finalists.
In his second MLB season, the Mariners’ young superstar overcame a slow start to the season to put up quality overall numbers. In 155 games, he posted a .275/.333/.485 slash line with 37 doubles, two triples, 32 homers, 102 runs scored, 103 RBIs, 37 stolen bases, 47 walks and 175 strikeouts.
He posted the fourth-highest FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement in the AL at 5.9, finished second in the AL with 180 hits and 71 extra-base hits and posted the third-most RBIs and stolen bases.
Rodriguez also posted the Mariners’ first 30 homer/30 stolen base season since Alex Rodriguez in 1998. Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr. was the only other player in the AL to achieve the feat this season.
Even though he isn’t expected to win the award, Rodriguez will finish in the top 10 in the MVP voting for the second straight season (seventh in 2022).
Based on the unique contract extension he signed with the Mariners last season, which includes escalators based on American League MVP voting from the 2022-2028 seasons, Rodriguez has pushed the cost of the club option after the 2029 season from eight years, $200 million to eight years, $240 million by finishing in top 10 the past two seasons. It’s an option that can increase in years ahead.
Also in Arizona, executives and staff from all 30 teams, player agents and even a few players will start arriving for the annual MLB general managers meetings.
Seattle’s president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto and general manager Justin Hollander are expected to be quite active over the short set of meetings. Most teams will engage in preliminary face-to-face meetings with the representatives of the top free agents and also start laying the groundwork for offseason trades.
It’s also the fifth day after the World Series, which is the end of the “quiet period” is for free agents. Players’ representatives can start negotiating or even sign with any team in MLB.
This is also the last day for a club to tender a “qualifying offer” to free agents.
Under the collective-bargaining agreement between the MLB Players Association and MLB, the Mariners can make a qualifying offer to Hernandez because he was on their roster for the entire 2022 season.
The qualifying offer is a one-year contract for a salary that is the mean salary of MLB’s 125 highest-paid players.
The salary for a player receiving a qualifying offer in 2024 would be $20.5 million. It’s the highest qualifying-offer salary since the system was enacted in 2011.
During the forgettable end-of-season news conference, Dipoto was asked about the decision to offer Hernandez a qualifying offer. He wouldn’t provide much detail.
“We’ve already made our decision internally,” Dipoto said. “We’ll talk with him before we make that public information.”
In one season with Seattle, Hernandez played in 155 games, posting a .258/.305/.435 slash line with 29 doubles, two triples, 26 homers, 93 RBIs, 38 walks and 211 strikeouts. The numbers were solid if not overwhelming.
In a free-agent class highlighted by Ohtani but light on proven producers at the plate, Hernandez, 31, is considered one of the top hitters available along with Cody Bellinger, Matt Chapman, J.D. Martinez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Jeimer Candelario. It seems unlikely that Hernandez would accept the qualifying offer for one year because he could sign a deal for a similar yearly salary for multiple seasons.
If Hernandez declines a qualifying offer and opts for free agency, the Mariners would receive a compensatory pick in the 2024 MLB draft. The position of that draft pick is based on the financial commitment of the player’s free-agent contract and if his former team is receiving revenue sharing from or paying MLB’s competitive balance tax (CBT).
This is also the deadline for MLB teams to return all players on the 60-day injured list back to the 40-man roster. Seattle has four players remaining on the 60-day injured list:
• Robbie Ray, LHP
• Marco Gonzales, LHP
• Evan White, 1B
• Emerson Hancock, RHP
A baseball operations representative, usually the general manager or team president, from each AL team will be available for an open afternoon media session. It will be the first time that Dipoto has been in an open media situation since the Mariners’ end-of-year news conference.
The 2023 All-MLB Team nominees show will air on MLB network at noon.
Media availability for baseball operations representatives for each of the NL teams will be held at the GM meetings
The winners of the 2024 Silver Slugger awards will be announced via news release and aired on MLB network in a show that runs from 3-4 p.m.
The winners of the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award for the AL and NL will be announced at 3 p.m. on MLB Network.
A 1 p.m. deadline for any free agent who has received a qualifying offer to inform their former team whether will accept or decline it.
The winners of the AL and NL Manager of the Year awards will be announced at 3 p.m. on MLB Network.
The deadline for MLB teams to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players for the 2023 season.
The Mariners have seven arbitration eligible players. Here is their year of arbitration and projected possible salary from the algorithm created by MLB Trade Rumors with the help of a former MLB agent.
• Ty France (second year): $7.2 million
• Trent Thornton (third year): $1.4 million
• Josh Rojas (second year): $3.5 million
• Sam Haggerty (first year): $800,000
• Justin Topa (first year): $1.5 million
• Mike Ford (first year): $1.5 million
• Logan Gilbert (first year): $4.9 million
Of this group, the Mariners could nontender (not offer a contract) to Ford and Thornton. While both were decent contributors to their team in 2023, the Mariners could view the projected salaries as too steep for likely future contributions or roster fit.
While there are some analysts and fans that think the team should nontender France and move on after a down 2023 season, the Mariners, given their lack of depth at the upper levels of the organization, aren’t in a position to be ridding themselves of proven MLB talent. While prospect Tyler Locklear may be the first baseman of the future, that future doesn’t likely start at the beginning of the season. Some MLB sources expect the team to tender France a contract and then still shop him as part of a trade package this offseason.
- The means that those players achieved Super 2 status, giving them four years of salary arbitration instead of three.
This is notable for Gilbert, who hasn’t officially been granted Super 2 status but is expected to meet the threshold of being within the top 22% of service time in for players in their first two seasons.
Seattle will likely face a similar situation next offseason with George Kirby, who is expected to reach Super 2.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame announces the 2024 BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot. Third baseman Adrian Beltre, a likely first-ballot selection, highlights the list of newcomers to the ballot along with Twins catcher Joe Mauer, Phillies infielder Chase Utley and inimitable pitcher Bartolo Colon.
The announcement of the vote from the Hall of Fame Contemporary Baseball/Managers-Umpires-Executives Committee. Former Mariners manager Lou Piniella is one of eight candidates on the ballot.
The Major League Baseball winter meetings begin at the Gaylord Opryland Resort outside of Nashville, Tennessee.
The second MLB draft lottery will be held will be held and televised on MLB Networks at 2:30 p.m. Every team that didn’t make the postseason will be entered into a drawing for the first six picks of the 2024 draft. The percentage of odds is based on record.
The A’s, Royals and Rockies, who finished with the worst record in MLB, have an 18.3% chances of getting a top-six pick.
The Mariners have a 0.2% chance of getting selected for a top-six pick, which is the second worst of all nonplayoff teams. The Nationals are ineligible for the lottery selection this season.