We keep rolling along as we take a look at what the Seattle Mariners did during the offseason in preparation for the 2021 season. The Mariners have been willing to make moves as GM Jerry Dipoto mans the helm, hoping it will pay off in the form of a postseason appearance this year.
Key Additions: James Paxton, Ken Giles
Key Subtractions: Dee Strange-Gordon
Seattle is a team that I think could be sneaky good in 2021. They have plenty of young talent in their farm system with some of it poised to make an impact in 2021 to go along with the talented group already in the Majors. The two additions the team made over the course of the winter make me a big believer in what could be in store for the Emerald City this year.
The first place I want to start is with Paxton and Giles. James has spent the majority of his career with the Mariners as he spent two years (2020, 2021) with the Yankees and six (2013-18) in Seattle. Big Maple was pretty bad last season as he posted an ERA of 6.64 in 20 innings of work and has also dealt with his fair share of injuries as he’s managed to throw over 150 innings or more in a season only twice in his career. Despite the downsides he presents, I am optimistic about Paxton’s return to Seattle. Ken Giles has been up and down in his career and I think this year will be an “up” year. The 30-year-old has posted four seasons with an ERA+ above 175 while throwing 45 innings or more, making me a believer in his ability to dominate. He can be a bit wild and his hit rate from one year to the next is sporadic, but he’s got great stuff and should be the go-to guy when the game is on the line. Adding in these two could prove huge if they have big years.
The team’s farm system is set to make a big impact this year as more of the calvary come filing in. We’ve seen guys like Evan White, Justus Sheffield, and Kyle Lewis make solid impressions during their brief time in the Majors and it is time for the next wave of young talent to come in and announce their presence. Jarred Kelenic, Logan Gilbert, and George Kirby should all reach Seattle sometime this year and I am extremely excited about that. Kelenic has a chance to be a special talent in centerfield with a very high floor. His ability to hit coupled with how he makes the most out of his speed on the base paths and in the field make him at least an everyday player. He’s incredibly advanced at the plate for someone his age and he should only get better with time. The swing skill will be his power. He shows potential to his 20 homers a year with an outside chance to hit even 30 once he’s fully matured. Finding players with his all-around skillset is rare as he has the potential to be a legitimate five-tool player.
The other two listed above may be farther away than Jarred, but they both have a chance to impact the major league club by the end of the year. Logan Gilbert is a tall righty from Stetson. The Hatters have a strong track record of pitchers in the league with both Corey Kluber and Jacob DeGrom hailing from there. Gilbert will try to follow in their footsteps and has a chance to do so. He shows frontline stuff as he fills up the strike zone with a variety of pitches, keeping hitters off balance and getting a good amount of whiffs. Kirby comes by way of Elon and has a chance to be just as special as Gilbert. George throws an insane amount of strikes and he does it with all four of his pitches. He has developed his stuff more as he’s reached the pros and looks like someone who will be around for years to come.
As far as what the Mariners have returning, they should feel good coming into the new year. Marco Gonzales may be boring, but he’s very good and will be atop the team’s rotation along with Paxton. Kyle Lewis and J.P. Crawford will look to build off of strong seasons while Dylan Moore and Ty France act as solid utility pieces. Kyle Seager will once again be back, leading this team as Seattle’s longest-tenured player. Tom Murphy will be back after missing all of 2020 due to injury. As you can see, there’s talent on this roster and with a bit of luck it might all come together to make for an exciting run in 21’.
Seattle will be a team I watch closely this year as they try to set themselves up for success going forward. They’ve done the whole tanking thing and are now looking to make some noise. They have their fair share of competition in the AL West, but I don’t think this young group will back down from the challenge. They may not make a ton of noise, but don’t expect them to be the easy win like they have been in years prior.