The Mariners and this historic free agent SS class

Once a new CBA has been agreed to and signed this upcoming free agent class has arguably the most elite grouping of short stops available in the history of free agency. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Seattle Mariners are interested in acquiring one of these short stops to add to a roster that has a bunch of holes in it; despite having a short stop that they absolutely adore in JP Crawford.

In an interview with 710 ESPN Seattle, general manager Jerry Dipoto pointed out that just because the player was signed as a shortstop doesn’t mean that’s the position they have to play with Seattle.

“One of the things that’s important to us is finding a player who is adaptable and willing to move around the field and maybe get a little uncomfortable,” Dipoto said.

Brent Stecker, 710 ESPN Seattle

Dipoto’s front office has shown this desire for flexibility in players before, the best example that comes to mind is the trade for Dee Gordon whom they stuck in center field till Robinson Cano got hurt and suspended. So the fact that he is continually looking at it from that angle doesn’t surprise me especially since Crawford has not only proven to have a major league caliber glove; but he can produce on the offensive end as well.

Which means that the Mariners are left with two options if they are able to sign one of these star short stops, either the new acquisition moves over to the hole at third base or Crawford moves to second base (which relegates Dylan Moore to a bench role if he’s not released). It seems more likely that Seattle will pursue one of these free agents that will be willing to move over to third instead of forcing one of its core young guys to move over to second. Especially since there is less range required at third base, which would be beneficial for some of these aging free agents.

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*ages listed in parenthese are the athlete’s 2022 seasonal age*

Marcus Semien (31)

The veteran shortstop spent the majority of the 2021 season at second base for the Toronto Blue Jays. If Seattle’s front office is able to talk him into playing at second in 2022, that would allow Scott Servais to slot Abraham Toro as the everyday third basemen to plug to holes in the M’s lineup. Although I do have concerns about the potential decrease in mobility in the later half of any contract the Mariners off him — it’s probably going to be in the four to five year range — it would be a big boon for the squad to have someone with his bat in the line-up.

Semien hit .265/.334/.538 with a wRC+ of 131 in 724 plate appearances last season, a nice bounce back year after his disappointing 2020. Steamer’s projects that he’ll hit .259/.336/.438 with a wRC+ of 117 in 2022, without knowing which ball park he’ll be playing in.

Javier Báez (29)

As Dipoto mention, Báez has also played played multiple positions. This past season, after the trade deadline, in New York he shifted from shortstop to second base because the Mets have Francisco Lindor. The 29 year old handled himself with grace at his new position and surprisingly handled the new defensive alignment fairly well. This, coupled with his offensive rebound at the plate, means that he’ll probably be able to get a decent sized deal…especially since he’s on the right side of 30 for a club that’s trying to keep its window open as long as possible.

In 547 plate appearances last season, Báez hit .265/.318/.494 with a wRC+ of 116. Heading into 2022, Steamer’s projects him to hit .242/.288/.443 with a wRC+ of 94.

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Trevor Story (29)

Of the four free agent shortstops listed in this post, Story is the only one that the Mariners could potentially nab on a one-year free agent deal. The 29-year old had a disappointing season at the plate and could look for a rebound before getting that big contract. What makes it so that the M’s would be an unlikely landing spot for Story is that he doesn’t have a history of playing other infield positions.

The biggest concern surrounding him is the stereotype around Coors Field and that free agents struggle away from the ballpark. It’s an effect that is based off of a hitters batted ball profile, and it seems like Story is one of those who benefits from it most with his high flyball rate (a career average of 44.8%).

Carlos Correa (27)

Correa is arguably the biggest fish in the pond this off season. At 27 years old he has to be one of the youngest super stars to hit the free agent market in lord knows how long. The short stop doesn’t have the history of positional flexibility on top of the fact that he is going to get a long and high dollar value contract. It’s highly unlikely Seattle is even close to being in the market for Correa’s services…despite his career wRC+ of 128.

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Photo Credit: Jon Blacker/The Canadian Press via AP

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