Ever since Jerry Dipoto took over as general manager of the Seattle Mariners, he has reworked the roster in his vision.
He came in and said that outfield defense was a big key along with a host of other areas that need some work, too. What we have seen thus far are some moves to improve the defense.
Leonys Martin was acquired from the Rangers in a deal that gives the Mariners an above average center fielder. Then Dipoto re-signed Franklin Gutierrez, who isn’t what he once was in the outfield, is still a solid defender nonetheless. In left field, the Mariners plan to platoon Gutierrez and Seth Smith which means left field is locked down between those two.
With left field and center field set, that leaves a hole in right field. With this stress on outfield defense, it doesn’t make much sense to put Nelson Cruz out there when he can easily just be a designated hitter. Last season, his first in Seattle, Cruz played 80 games in the field which isn’t going to bode well for the future if the Mariners want the same .300-plus average and 40-plus home run hitter they got in 2015. To back that up, according to Fangraphs advanced fielding statistics, Cruz was in the negatives in every category in 2015.
Now, even though they are in deep with Cruz, Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez, and Kyle Seager, Jason Heyward would be a great fit for this team. If the Mariners want to end the longest playoff drought in baseball and live up to their 2015 expectations a season later, it might be smart for the organization to open up their pocket books and get Heyward in a Mariners uniform.
The one thing that would hold this thing up would be the money issue and that makes sense with this being an organization that has not been among the top in payroll in the past. The ownership has been a bit stringent with their money, but now seems like the right time to get one more big name playing in Safeco Field for the Mariners.
Heyward, 26, will not come cheap as he’ll definitely want upwards of $100 million with the years on the contract being another talking point, but if a team is willing to pay that high of a number, they should reap some nice rewards.
A season ago, Heyward slashed .293/.359/.451 while swiping 23 bases, another stat the Mariners could improve upon. In addition, he is no slouch in the field as he had a UZR of 22.6 in the outfield a year ago while playing with the Cardinals. Defensive Runs Saved is another metric that illuminates Heyward’s prowess in the field; he finished 2015 with 24 DRS.
When it all comes down to it, the main question asked will be whether the Mariners really want to spend all of this money. They should have enough space if they want to sign him, but it will most likely be a back-loaded contract.
Heyward would fill an obvious need for this Mariners team and would add more than just a run-of-the-mill outfielder. He is only 26, which is great news for any team signing him, because he is significantly younger than say Alex Gordon who is 32 and also looking for a sizeable contract.
If you want to win, spending money is a must and when you combine the massive hole in right field with enough financial flexibility, the Mariners signing Heyward tends to make a lot of sense.
He not only is one of the best bats on the market, but is also one of the best gloves. When you combine those two, it is a marriage made in heaven for the Mariners who could always use another bat hitting in Safeco along with having an emphasis on outfield defense.
It is still early in the free-agent process, but with the Winter Meetings inching closer, sometimes you just never know.