After the Seattle Mariners' first playoff appearance in 21 years last season, the highly-acclaimed Mariners offense has fallen flat so far in 2023. Young, burgeoning outfielders Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic have been strong power sources but strike out too often.
The infield has been absent altogether. Eugenio Suarez is striking out almost as much as he did last year while posting inferior power. Kolten Wong is hitting .157 since coming over from Milwaukee in the offseason.
This all leads to a team with the third-most strikeouts in Major League Baseball, one of the worst batting averages, and a mediocre slugging percentage. Given this offensive outage, it is a small miracle that the Mariners currently have a .500 record.
Unfortunately for the Mariners, they are 10 games back in the AL West. Seattle is ten games behind the first-place Texas Rangers — who look like true World Series contenders — plus trails 2022 champions the Houston Astros and the upstart Los Angeles Angels.
Seattle has survived thanks to its pitching this year. The top-of-the-rotation trio of Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, and Luis Castillo has been elite, with Kirby experiencing a breakthrough season thanks to his minute walk rate. This is being achieved without Robbie Ray, who is out for the rest of the season with injury.
In the bullpen, the Mariners have dealt with numerous injuries, with key guys Diego Castillo and Andres Muñoz both missing considerable time so far. Without these linchpins, Paul Sewald has continued to lock things down.
With a need for hitting plus some additional pitching depth, here are four moves the Mariners should consider making as the MLB trade deadline approaches in the coming months.
Mariners: 4 early 2023 MLB trade deadline targets for Seattle
Ryan McMahon (3B/2B/1B), Colorado Rockies
Yes, he benefits from playing at altitude, but Ryan McMahon is hitting the cover off the ball right now. The Colorado Rockies infielder ranks in the 85th percentile or better in average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage (per Baseball Savant), while also posting the highest slugging percentage and OPS of his career.
Jake Cronenworth (2B), San Diego Padres
Somehow, two clubs have gotten less production from their second basemen this season than the Mariners. Jake Cronenworth hasn't been the same this year after back-to-back All-Star seasons in San Diego, but no one on the Padres team has been particularly impressive in 2023.
At his best, Cronenworth is an RBI machine who can easily reach 30 doubles in a season, making him a significant upgrade to the struggling Kolten Wong.
Eloy Jimenez (DH/OF), Chicago White Sox
Another area where the Mariners have gotten next-to-no production is the designated hitter spot. AJ Pollock is batting .161 and the revolving door of strikeout-prone hitters behind him has been similarly disappointing.
The White Sox have started playing Eloy Jimenez more at DH this year to protect the paper-mache-made outfielder from himself and to upgrade from his mediocre defense. When healthy (that's a big if) Jimenez is one of the best hitters in the game. Seattle might want to take a chance here, and Chicago might be ready to move on.
Michael Kopech (SP), Chicago White Sox
With Robbie Ray out for the year and Marco Gonzales injured, Seattle could use one more starting pitcher. Michael Kopech bounced back from a rough start to post a 2.05 ERA over his last four appearances while averaging 9.5 strikeouts per contest. If Kopech can pitch like this consistently, he would be a valuable trade pickup for the Mariners.