Although this team had some high points during the season, this team sure had it's struggles, mainly on offense. Seattle finished the year with a team batting average of .226, which was dead-last in the Majors. They also finished bottom-five in on-base percentage (OBP), on-base plus slugging (OPS), and slugging percentage (SLG). The starting rotation for the Mariners was also very inconsistent, as Chris Flexen was their only reliable starter throughout the season.
Over the past week, Mariners G.M. Jerry Dipoto has stated that Seattle is looking to increase their payroll significantly in order to sign some big name free-agents this offseason. Dipoto also stated that the main focuses are on the offense and the starting rotation, though another arm in the bullpen wouldn't hurt. As many Mariners fans know, Jerry can execute a trade at any time as well.
I have already stated the struggles Seattle's offense had in 2021, but what positions are mainly in need of an upgrade? Assuming Kyle Lewis is healthy, he'll join Jarred Kelenic and Mitch Haniger as the Mariners starting outfielders for 2022, so that is pretty much locked up. The infield is much more complicated however. Other than J.P. Crawford being a lock at shortstop, Seattle's infield may look much different than it did in 2021. Kyle Seager is set to become a free-agent, unless Seattle somehow picks up his $20M option, but that will not happen. Evan White will be returning from injury in 2022, but Ty France was unbelievable at first base in his absence and is a much better hitter. Abraham Toro did an average job at second base for Seattle in 2021, but his offense very much declined towards the end of the season, so I see him as a better fit for the bench since he is a switch-hitter. At the catching position, the Mariners could sure use some help, as both Tom Murphy and Cal Raleigh were very much below-average in 2021. If the Mariners want to improve offensively this offseason, they need a couple of great infielders and a solid outfielder for the bench, while also adding a veteran catcher wouldn't hurt.
As I previously mentioned, Seattle's starting pitching was very inconsistent in 2021, and they could sure use a couple of upgrades going into 2022. Both Yusei Kikuchi and Tyler Anderson are set to be free-agents, which is a good thing for Seattle as they both had poor 2021 campaigns. That means that Marco Gonzales, Chris Flexen, and Logan Gilbert will likely remain in the rotation for next season. Justin Dunn will be returning from injury next year and will likely slot in as well. Since Seattle usually goes with a six-man rotation, they need to acquire a couple of serviceable starters in the offseason.
The Mariners bullpen was one of the biggest surprises of the 2021 season. Many of Seattle's relievers had the best seasons of their careers, mainly the three-headed monster of Drew Steckenrider, Paul Sewald, and Casey Sadler. Steckenrider served as the main closer for the Mariners in 2021, recording 14 saves and posting an even earned run average of 2.00. Sewald struck out 104 batters in less than 65 innnings pitched. Last but not least, Sadler finished the season with 29 straight scoreless outings, posting an unreal 0.67 earned run average. Not to mention that Diego Castillo and Erik Swanson did solid jobs as well. Seattle will also have Ken Giles in 2022, as he will be coming off of Tommy John Surgery. The main bullpen focus for Dipoto and the Mariners this offseason will be finding a left-hander, as Anthony Misiewicz had his struggles for Seattle in 2021.
Possible Free Agents
2021 Stats: .232/.344/.384, 14 HR, 55 RBI, .729 OPS
Conforto did not have a stellar season with the Mets in 2021, posting an average of just above .230 with a poor OPS. However, he still showed off a bit of power, hitting 14 home runs from the left side of the plate. The main reason the Mariners could sign Conforto is that he was born in Washington state so he has some local ties. Although 2021 was one of the worst seasons of Conforto's career, he has shown promise in the past and he could fit nicely as a bench bat to replace Jake Fraley.
2021 Stats: .265/.334/.538, 45 HR, 102 RBI, .873 OPS
If Jerry Dipoto really wants to spend this offseason, signing Marcus Semien would be a great upgrade for the Mariners at second base. Semien had an unbelievable 2021 season with the Blue Jays, playing in all 162 games and swatting 45 home runs and driving in over 100 runs. Defensively, he was very solid in his first full season at the second base position. Although Marcus may be expensive to sign, he would be a great bat to add to the lineup for Seattle.
2021 Stats: .253/.314/.472, 28 HR, 90 RBI, .786 OPS
The Mariners will have a void to fill at third base for the first time in a while as Kyle Seager is departing in the offseason. Eduardo Escobar would be a pretty cheap and effective replacement for Seattle. In 2021, Escobar hit for an average of just above .250 with 28 home runs while driving in 90 runs. His numbers weren't stellar, but he has good power for a switch hitter. Eduardo also has a little bit of versatility, as he can play second base for the Mariners as well if needed.
2021 Stats: 31 GS, 3.17 ERA, 152 K, 42 BB, 1.09 WHIP
DeSclafani is coming off the best season of his career, as he posted a good earned run average of under 3.20 with a WHIP of under 1.10 for San Francisco. Although he didn't post the biggest strikeout numbers, Anthony was very effective overall in 2021. As I mentioned earlier, Seattle needs some starting pitching, and DeSclafani would be a cheap right-hander to add to the rotation.
2021: 32 GS, 2.84 ERA, 248 K, 52 BB, 1.04 WHIP
If Jerry Dipoto really wants to go all in this offseason, then he should definitely take a look at Robbie Ray, who will likely win the Cy Young for the A.L. for his 2021 performance. Ray led the American League in earned run average, strikeouts, innings pitched, games started, and WHIP. He simply was incredible for Toronto in 2021 and he would be a massive help to Seattle's starting rotation next season.
2021: 65 G, 0.95 ERA, 57 K, 16 BB, 0.93 WHIP
Loup secretly had one of the best seasons by any left-handed reliever in the Majors in 2021 for the Mets. In 65 appearances out of the bullpen, he posted an earned run average of under 1.00 with a great WHIP of 0.93. I previously mentioned Seattle's need for a left-hander in the bullpen, and with Aaron coming off the best season of his career, he would be a great addition.
Overall, Jerry Dipoto is one of the most active general managers in Major League Baseball and it is unpredictable what he will do this offseason. But, with a few good additions, Seattle could definitely break their long playoff drought in 2022.