Mark Canha and his potential role with Seattle

Back on Nov. 3rd, free agent outfielder (and first baseman) Mark Canha was in Seattle to try out some of the local food. And Mariners’ Twitter promptly went off of its rocker.

The rumors that have surrounded the 32-year old indicate that the Mariners do have interest in him. His versatility would be a good bit of bench depth and a lot of his offensive value comes from his ability to draw walks. Canha walked in 12% of his career late appearances and is coming off of a season that saw him post a walk rate of 12.3% — his lowest rate since 2018.

Canha’s walks come because he doesn’t swing the bat at pitches outside of the zone. In 2021 his O-swing rate was 24.4%, his third straight season below the 30% threshold. For those of you who have trouble imagining what that looks like, here’s the heat map.

He tends to not swing at pitches that are near the inside or outside borders of the zone which means that pitchers are forced to pitch the ball over the heart of the plate to generate whiffs. When the pitchers miss their spot, it gives Canha a better pitch to make contact with when he does swing.

In 625 plate apperances last season, the veteran hit .231/.358/.387 with a wRC+ of 115. Despite his rather weak defense, Canha was still worth 2.6 fWAR. Based off of his fWAR, the 32-year old would have been the fourth most valuable Mariner in 2021 (0.1 ahead of Kyle Seager); and with his wRC+ he’d have been third highest on the roster, with a minimum of 200 PAs.

It would be hard to complain about Jerry Dipoto getting a batter that is primarily known for his walks, despite the fact that Canha is 32. Because it’s rare that you’ll see a player’s ability to get on base degrade as they age; which means that he could provide some value to the roster as a bench piece. But if the Mariners’ are serious about opening their championship window in 2022 he cannot be their everyday left fielder.

As a fourth outfielder, and the primary back-up for Ty France, Canha makes a whole hell of a lot of sense. But if the off season ends with the M’s heavily reliant on him out in left, then 2022 could shape up to be a long season.

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Photo Credit:; Daniel Shirey/Getty Images via White Cleat Beat