We continue looking at the 30 MLB teams as they head into the 2021 season. And on this piece, we examine The State of the Seattle Mariners.
Signing (Back) James Paxton
The Seattle Mariners would bring James Paxton back into the fold. Paxton would pitch for Seattle for six seasons from 2013-2018. Over that time, Paxton was once seen as one of the best starters in MLB. However, the issue that has plagued Paxton has been health. Staying healthy has been a challenge for James Paxton. And if the reports are to be believed, James Paxton is in the best shape that he’s ever been. A healthy James Paxton could find himself among the top contenders for not just “Comeback Player of the Year” but also Cy Young.
Signing Ken Giles
Ken Giles signing with the Seattle Mariners is a curious move. Giles was once thought of as one of the up-and-coming fireballers of MLB. But over the past few seasons, injuries and ineffectiveness have changed that perception a bit for Giles. One hundred miles Giles will not pitch for the Mariners this season as he recovers from Tommy John Surgery. Thus making the move all the more curious for the Mariners, as they will likely not contend next season either.
State of the Rotation
The Seattle Mariners rotation will likely feature a 6-man rotation throughout the season. Left-handers Paxton, Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, and Justus Sheffield will join right-handers Chris Flexen and Justin Dunn as part of the rotation. Seattle is not expected to compete for any postseason spot. However, the M’s rotation should not be slept on as an underratedly good staff. And the Mariners will have at least three members of the rotation that could be traded at the deadline to rebolster the farm system.
State of the Bullpen
The Mariners’ bullpen will be piecemealed together with many arms. Rafael Montero, who was acquired from Texas earlier this offseason, will likely serve as the closer in 2021. But aside from that, there won’t be any defined roles otherwise going into Spring Training. Spring Training will see many battles to determine the roles in Seattle’s bullpen. Because of a ton of potential opportunities in the M’s bullpen, it’s likely to see a lot of turnover as well.
State of the Offense
The offense for the Seattle Mariners will surprise some people. Players like Kyle Lewis, Mitch Haniger, and Kyle Seager should hit well in 2021. Seattle has been out of the postseason picture since 2001. (Which is the longest postseason drought among the four major North American sports.) The offense for Seattle will carry them in 2021. However, sadly it will not carry them to the postseason. Seattle will have some players, that if they play well in the first half, could be traded at the deadline. In doing so, Seattle would further lessen the collective strength of the team. But it would help the potential trade partners and players involved to move to a team that’s looking to compete.
State of the Franchise
The Seattle Mariners are in a difficult position. They have not made the postseason in 20 years. And the team they are fielding is a weaker team than many others in that “middle ground” of contention. If the Mariners are going to be able to break the mold, they will need everything and everyone to go/play well in 2021. Seattle is going to compete with the Texas Rangers for the worst team in the American League West. And while the next few seasons are going to leave something to desire for the M’s. They will be able to have some of their young players gather valuable experience.