The Seattle Mariners finally did it. They snapped their long postseason drought, making the postseason in 2022. It was a dramatic moment, too, as catcher Cal Raleigh secured the spot with a walk-off home run.
In the postseason, things didn’t entirely go their way. Seattle did advance out of the Wild Card series against the Toronto Blue Jays. However, they were unceremoniously swept by the eventual World Series champion Houston Astros.
The worst moment for the Mariners came in that last ALDS game. Seattle was shutdown for 18 innings, failing to produce a single run for what essentially amounted to two games in one.
The Mariners aren’t losing a ton of key pieces. Second baseman Adam Frazier is hitting the open market, as is outfielder Mitch Haniger. Other than that, most of the important players are remaining with the team.
So how can the Mariners best position themselves to compete again in 2023? They are likely to aim for some elite talent this winter, but how about further down the market? Here are three options for Mariners fans to keep their eyes on.
3 sneaky MLB free agents Mariners must target
3) Pitcher Matthew Boyd
Boyd should be somewhat familiar to Mariners fans. He is a native of Washington State, and he pitched for the team after being traded at the trade deadline in August.
Things haven’t always gone to plan for the 31-year-old. He broke through with the Detroit Tigers and established himself as a pitcher with insane swing-and-miss stuff.
Trade rumors surrounded Boyd for years, but the Tigers never traded him. He was non-tendered by Detroit last November, and he signed with the San Francisco Giants before the season.
However, Boyd never actually pitched for the Giants. He suffered a flexor tendon injury that kept him from suiting up for the team. The Giants moved him to the Mariners along with Curt Casali for two players.
With Seattle, Boyd was excellent. He wasn’t a starter like he was in Detroit, but he pitched to a fantastic 1.35 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 13.1 innings pitched. Maybe a bullpen role is available to the 31-year-old.
It’s hard to imagine Boyd having the most robust market, despite the great 2022 performance. The Mariners know what the 31-year-old can offer, and he’s from the area, so this feels like a match made in heaven.
2) Infielder Brandon Drury
Classifying Drury as just an infielder feels a bit disrespectful to the versatility he brings to any team. He can play three of the four infield spots, as well as some outfield.
The Mariners could look to Drury for two infield positions: third base if they feel Abraham Toro isn’t what they need right now. And second base, if they miss out on one of the elite shortstops and keep JP Crawford at shortstop.
Seattle needs an offensively-minded second baseman, and Drury fits the bill. He hit .263 splitting the season between the Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres last year. He also set career highs in home runs (28) and RBI (87).
If Seattle does land one of those elite shortstops, Drury works in the outfield too. The Mariners did trade for Teoscar Hernandez, though. That could relegate Drury to a DH spot, which also works.
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Any way you slice this, Drury fits with the Mariners. If Seattle can bring him in, they would be one step closer to returning to the postseason in 2023.
1) Pitcher Aroldis Chapman
This one is a definite risk. Chapman has been one of the most dominant relievers in baseball for a while. He’s also been one of the league’s hardest-throwing relievers, as well.
Recently, he’s started to drop off a bit. 2022 was a perfect example of this, as Chapman posted an ERA over 4.00 for the first time in his career. He lost the closer’s role with the New York Yankees and didn’t make their postseason roster.
There is a lot of risk with this pickup. Chapman won’t be throwing over 100 MPH forever. However, there may still be some elite-level production left.
Relief pitchers are volatile, and in some ways Chapman is proof of that. Adding reinforcements can help, and Chapman can bounce back still. If he returns to form with the Mariners, they can pretty much lock down any game in the late innings.