It’s going to take a while to hear the news from the Mariners as the playoffs left them behind, but it will be a huge offseason for Seattle once we get there.
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Here are three Mariners stories that I hope to read once the offseason begins.
“Jarred Kelenic to start off-season training program with MLB stars”
The overflowing talent and physical tools began to play at the end of the 2021 season for Kelenic. The signs of a breakout were all visible, with the approach of the plate and the power the Boy Scouts praised for producing results for the rookie in September.
Kelenic has always been known as a tireless worker and student of the game – just check out his YouTube channel and you’ll see that he’s not short on a work ethic. But baseball is more than talent and preparation, and the same intensity that has driven Kelenic to hone his skills and abilities and put his name at the top of prospect lists over the past three seasons may have -being created its biggest challenge in 2021.
Kelenic can benefit more than anyone on the list by training alongside the stars who were once in his shoes. For all of the positives in the Mariners development system, the one thing the organization doesn’t have is a former top prospect who went on to become an MLB star. Rather than returning home to play at the gym next to the Watt brothers in Wisconsin, Kelenic might find more value working alongside MLB stars who were once advertised prospects like Alex Bregman, George Springer, or Mike Trout.
“Sailors sit down with JP Crawford to discuss team plans”
As 2021 wore on, JP Crawford not only erupted on the pitch but in the clubhouse. Teammates have consistently pointed to the Gold Glove shortstop as the team leader, and with veteran third baseman Kyle Seager likely to leave, the baton of leadership was passed to Crawford after Game 162.
Managing leaders in baseball is a challenge. It’s as easy to trick leaders into believing that they are not respected as it is to surrender to them to the point where a manager loses control of a clubhouse. Some teams are faced with the challenge of having their best players totally indifferent to developing the others. With Crawford, the Mariners don’t need to have any of these issues.
2022 will be a clean slate for the Mariners in many ways, and as they prioritize major league talent over prospects in this rebuilding phase, they need to make sure there are no cracks in The foundations. Does that mean a contract extension for the guy they’re going to hand over to lead this crew?
At the very least, the Mariners should do for Crawford what Russell Wilson asked the Seahawks to do this offseason: include him in the plan. Would Crawford approve the move to second base to add one of the many star shortstops available in free agency? Can it help the front office understand what players want the roster to do in order to preserve the positive atmosphere that was built in 2021 while bringing in more talent?
Chemistry and leadership are important traits that are difficult to quantify. Go the extra mile to preserve them by including Crawford in the plan.
“Star infielder to sign with Seattle Mariners”
The Mariners need more talent. Their depth was put to the test as the playoff race shifted into high gear, and it was exposed by several rough hitters from below the roster in the final set of the season.
With Kelenic, Mitch Haniger and Kyle Lewis in the outfield (and with Julio RodrÃguez potentially ready to join the club early next season), the opportunity to add an impact attack lies in the infield. A very strong, young shortstop class is headlining an impressive class in free agency, and while the Mariners may not be interested in moving Crawford to a different position to make room to one of them, the Mariners can’t – and probably won’t. – stay on the sidelines this offseason.
Third baseman Kris Bryant and second baseman Marcus Semien could be high on the Mariners’ wishlist. Bryant might have a special appeal given his positional flexibility (he can play in the first, third, and outfield corner), age (30), and playoff experience (a key Cubs team member for the 2016 World Series Championship). And as a former great prospect himself, Bryant could provide invaluable mentorship to Kelenic as he tries to reach his cap.
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