Mariners roster continues to change in offseason
December 5, 2019
SEATTLE - Although the baseball winter meetings haven't concluded yet, the moves the Seattle Mariners have made so far this offseason indicate they won't be looking to compete for a playoff spot next season. Let's walk through each of the moves for the following players added: Evan White, Carl Edwards Jr., Kendall Graveman, and Nestor Cortes Jr. Then we'll take a look at the players released: Domingo Santana, Tim Beckham and another rumored-to-be-traded starting catcher Omar Narvaez.
Evan White, a first baseman on the Mariners AA team signed a six-year $24 million contract on November 22nd. White has a chance to make the team out of spring training this year. Think of his high-end projection as a Mark Teixeira glove with a Tino Martinez bat and you will see why the Mariners are excited about him.
Carl Edwards Jr. was a productive reliever on the Chicago Cubs before having shoulder problems last season. This looks like an attempt to "buy low" on a player and hope the shoulder problems are a thing of the past.
Mariners' fans likely remember Kendall Graveman from his time on the Oakland A's pitching staff. He has returned from his 'Tommy John' surgery and worked his way back to the major league level. He will be 29 years old this season and I'm not sure if this is an attempt to rebuild the starting rotation on the cheap, or re-establish his talent and trade him at the deadline this year to a contender.
Nestor Cortes Jr. was picked up in a trade with the New York Yankees for $500,000 in international pool money. No money exchanges hands between the two teams. It just allows the Yankees to spend an additional $500,000 on signing international players. For a rebuilding team like the Mariners, trading away this allotment makes no sense unless they think Cortes can be developed or traded away mid season. He wasn't used as a starter for the Yankees but rather as a long relief pitcher.
It is a little surprising that Domingo Santana was released following a 21-homer season. He was a bit of a liability on defense in the outfield, but no other clubs were interested in trading for him.
Tim Beckham's release should surprise no one following the team. His performance was below replacement level last season and still has 33 games left on his performance-enhancing drug suspension of 80 games.
Of all the personnel moves, the rumor regarding trading Omar Narvaez makes no sense to me. The thinking is that they currently have a good catcher in Tom Murphy and could use Austin Nola as the backup catcher. Last season was the first since Dan Wilson was an all-star in 1996 that they have received good production out of the catcher's spot. Word is the Mariners aren't happy with Narvaez's defense, but it seems unwise to break up the catching duo that together produced 40 home runs and the 4th best production in the entire league. It's been over 30 years since this position was a strength on the team and one of the few areas that doesn't need a rebuild. If they are concerned about Narvaez's defense, give Murphy more games behind the plate and let Narvaez play first or designated hitter for some of those games. Catchers often get injured and having two quality hitters to split the time makes even more sense with the roster expanded to 26 players this year. Hopefully Seattle decides to hang on to both catchers.
All of these moves bring the Mariners payroll down to $96 million which is well below the first level salary cap of $208 million for 2020. Approximately $25 million of that will be paid to players no longer on the team (Edwin Encarnacion, Robinson Cano, Jay Bruce and Mike Leake). Hopefully the team will be active in the free agent market and acquire some pitching they desperately need.