Yusei Kikuchi

How the Mariners can use the offseason to build on their 2021 campaign

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Following an impressive season, the Seattle Mariners offseason 2022 will be key for their future. They were better than most people expected and knocked on the door of the postseason but, in full Mariners fashion, they fell short once again.

The Mariners’ prospect depth proved to be for real. They’re talented, competitive, and ready to take a step forward even if people continue to overlook them. This team proved to be solid and not just overachievers, even putting the biggest contenders against the wall more often than not.

The city of Seattle hasn’t hosted a postseason game in two decades but for the first time in years, it seems like baseball’s longest playoff drought might come to an end rather sooner than later. Notably, the team looks poised to make some interesting moves in the offseason.

Mariners offseason needs 2022: How to become a contender

No one expected the Seattle Mariners to reach the final week of the season with chances of reaching the playoffs. Mariners’ trade rumors flooded the internet left and right throughout the season but they refused to be sellers and continued to trust their core.

They were tough as nails for most of the year, especially in one-run games. They won over 20 games decided by just one run and could never be counted out of any game. With that in mind, let’s talk about their biggest offseason needs and how to solve them.


Plenty of cash to spare

The Seattle Mariners, unlike most teams, have plenty of cash to spare ahead of the 2022 offseason. Besides Evan White, Chris Flexen, Marco Gonzalez, and Ken Giles, they have no guaranteed money on their books, and those players’ salaries combined account for roughly $15 million.

They still need to make a decision on Yusei Kikuchi but that seems like a no-brainer at this point, while Mitch Haniger, Diego Castillo, and J.P. Crawford will all be arbitration-eligible. Also, bringing back Kyle Seager should be a priority, but they’ll still have a lot of money to spend in free agency. If not, the Mariners’ prospect depth will have to show up again next season.

Sign an ace

Marco Gonzalez was far from the pitcher they expected him to be last season, especially early in the year. Yusei Kikuchi was solid more often than not but also struggled towards the end of the season. The Mariners’ rotation was somewhat solid for the most part but they still need to add another reliable arm.

General manager Jerry Dipoto finished the season by saying that they will be quite aggressive in the market to improve their roster. The likes of Max Scherzer, Robbie Ray, or Kevin Gausman could be out of their range, but they could try and make a run at Marcus Stroman, Eduardo Rodríguez, or even take a risk with Noah Syndergaard coming off a long injury layoff.


Sign a leftie for the bullpen

As we mentioned before, the Mariners thrived in one-game scenarios, which means that their bullpen was solid. Dipoto made this an area of emphasis after posting a 5.94 bullpen ERA in 2020, taking that number down to 3.88. Even so, most analysts predict some regression from a bullpen that helped pave the way for a 90-win season no one so coming.

So, why to fix what doesn’t need fixing, you’d ask, and the answer is simpler than you’d thought.

Ken Giles, Diego Castillo, Paul Sewald, Drew Steckenrider, Casey Sadler, and Andres Muñoz are all right-handed. So, put a southpaw reliever at the top of the Mariners’ offseason needs list, as Anthony Misiewicz — the team’s only leftie option out of the bullpen — wasn’t exactly sharp against left-handed hitters.

The Mariners are better than expected and they’ll be just fine in the future, but these moves will take them to the next level right away.

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