The addition of Nelson Cruz to a low-powered lineup has the city of Seattle abuzz with possibilities.
But let’s take a moment to address the existing positions of need, and possibilities that Jack Zduriencik may explore to fill them.
With the trade of Michael Saunders, this position definitely became the biggest hole on the roster. Justin Ruggiano was acquired last week, possibly with the intent to platoon this spot.
While possessing a solid glove and decent power from the right side, he has significant splits, but is better suited to a backup 4th OF / platoon role. His addition to the team is extremely welcome as he can be a very useful contributor; however, we obviously need a little more help here.
Suggested Names: Nori Aoki, Cody Rasmus, Emilio Bonifacio (Platoon), Seth Smith (Platoon), Carlos Gonzalez (wishful thinking)
Recommended Player: Nori Aoki
While not possessing the top flight bat that most Mariner fans would like, Aoki would fit this team quite well. It is true that he doesn’t hit for power (1 HR in 2014), but what this team needs are solid reliable hitters.
This team will benefit from some more speed on the base paths, reliable contact, and solid defense. He also comes with a cheaper price tag than most free agents. Most folks tend to put his price tag in the 7-8 Million a year range, and we could probably have him for 3 yrs / 20 mill if we approach him right.
First Base / Designated Hitter / Outfield
First base has been a sore point for the Mariners for years. They tried Justin Smoak, actually giving him more ABs than he ever really deserved at the major league level.
This past season we saw Logan Morrison settle into the position in the second half, getting into a nice groove and producing well. However, there are concerns surrounding LoMo. Can he continue? Or was this another flash of brilliance like before when he played for the Marlins?
To address this, it would be smart to acquire some depth that can step in, or platoon if need be. An emergency DH for Cruz, a backup / platoon for LoMo and maybe an emergency corner OF as well.
Suggested Names: Mike Carp, Seth Smith, Delmon Young, Carlos Quentin, Austin Wilson(Minors)
Recommended Player: Delmon Young
Delmon Young is an interesting case. He’s only 29, but doesn’t seem to have anyone interested in him. There’s been a few off the field issues, with an arrest in New York City and a few other small red flags. However, wherever he’s gone, he’s always produced. This is a buy low candidate, with some serious upside potential. He’s a career .283 hitter with a decent bit of power.
Young should be quite cheap; we can probably nail him down for a 1 year deal in the market of 3-4 mill. He would spell LoMo and Cruz, and occasionally an outfielder. He is a long way from the kid who finished 2nd in rookie of the year voting, but he still has a lot of potential.
With these 2 small additions, the Mariners can be stronger both on offense and defense, without spending too much. Jack Z has shown a definite reluctance to trade away the youngsters for rental players, and this plan doesn’t require that.
With the addition of J.A. Happ, our rotation is filled out nicely and our bullpen was the best in baseball last year. Adding 2 players who hit for regular contact will be a huge boon to our offense, and combined with Ruggiano and Cruz should put us in the playoffs this coming season.