While we’ve already discussed Mark Canah, the versatile outfielder is not the only former Athletic that will hit the free agent market this year that reportedly interest Mariners’ general manager Jerry Dipoto. According to Ryan Divish, the M’s have interest in Oakland’s free agent third baseman and at least one of the three leftie starters.
Dipoto made it clear that they would be interested in acquiring any of the A’s players who are going to be available. Sources indicate the Mariners would love to acquire third baseman Matt Chapman and one of their trio of pitchers — lefty Sean Manaea and right-handers Frankie Montas and Chris Bassitt.Ryan Divish, Seattle Times
This would address the gapping hole at third that was left by the franchise letting Kyle Seager walk and help bolster a starting staff that suffered through a ton of injuries last season.
As sexy as it would be for Seattle to get one of the absolute aces still on the free agent market, that seems highly unlikely. But if the M’s were to go and add a Sean Manaea or Chris Bassitt quality starter to the staff, along with resigning Tyler Anderson, than it would go a long way to adding more depth. And it could be done in a way that won’t hamstring the front office for the aftermath of the upcoming lockout.
Without a CBA, the nature of the free agent market along with what it will look like are up in the air. Will there be a salary floor that could inflate spending? Or will they go the other way and officially establish a salary cap and deflate spending? Also, will arbitration be out the window and free agency come at 29.5 years old? These are the kind of questions that will greatly shape how free agency shakes out once they’re resolved.
Which is why it would make sense to add several mulitple mildly expensive pieces to the starting rotation, instead of one exceedingly big one. And fill the roster hole at third base as well.
Sean Manaea, SP
Why he makes sense: At 29 years old, the southpaw had a consistent season that saw him pitch 4.09/3.65/3.62 (ERA/FIP/xFIP) in 179.1 innings in his first full season since 2018 — it was also a career high in innings pitched for Manaea. The fact that he’s so young means that the M’s could ink him to a long term deal. His fWAR was 3.3 over the course of the season which means that there could still be better innings in his future. Which is something Seattle is going to need as it looks to end its playoff drought.
Why he doesn’t: There aren’t really too many reasons that Manaea wouldn’t be a good fit in Seattle. His line drive rate is reasonable, which is a concern with T-Mobile’s spacious outfields, and his walk rate isn’t horrifically high. The biggest concern would be his usage last season, but that’s going to be a concern for any free agent pitcher that the team is interested in coming off of the first full season since 2019.
Frankie Montas, SP
Why he makes sense: Montas is easily the most intriguing of the three pitchers mentioned in Divish’s article. In 187 innings last season he pitched 3.37/3.37/3.64 and allowed only 0.86 home runs per nine innings. The 28 year old stranded 74.5% of runners that reached base against him at the same time as he struck out 26.6% of the batters he faced. There is a lot of talent in his arm and it would be exciting for Seattle to get someone that young with such potential into its rotation.
Why he doesn’t: Of the three pitchers mentioned, Montas is probably going to be the one to get the longest term deal. It seems likely that Dipoto would rather spend more money per year than on longer term contracts after he was saddled with Pujols’ 10-year deal in Anaheim and Cano’s 10-year deal when he showed up in Seattle. For a young (and dominant) pitcher, the financial security of a long term deal makes a lot more sense; which means that I believe its unlikely the two sides could find an equitable middle ground.
Chris Bassitt, SP
Why he makes sense: Bassitt is easily coming off of the best year of his career as he posted a career high in fWAR (3.3), strikeouts per nine innings (9.1), and innings pitched (157.1). The 32 year old also stranded 78.2% of runners that reached base while also striking out 25% of batters faced. Since Bassitt had spent his entire career with Oakland, he’s got a lot of playoff experience that could be added to this roster.
Why he doesn’t: His age is a big warning sign, granted he only has 555.2 innings on his arm, which isn’t an amount worth worrying too much about, but the best year of his career came in his age 32 season. It’s unlikely he’ll get better during the length of any contract he signs with Seattle; what’s likely is that he’ll age and his skills will decrease.
Matt Chapman, 3B
Why he makes sense: At 28, Chapman is coming off of his worst full season in the big leagues. It was a season in that he was worth 3.4 fWAR — compared to Seager who was worth 2.5 in 2021 — and hit .210/.314/.403 with a wRC+ of 101 in 622 plate appearances. Chapman also posted a career low in BABIP (.272) which means that he’s a likely candidate for regression which means that his offensive production should increase going forward…especially since he’s entering his athletic prime.
Why he doesn’t: A 28 year old third basemen who is lowest full season (500+ PAs) fWAR is 3.4 is going to be worth a long term contract that could be very uncomfortable for the franchise in its later half. For the same reason that was noted above with Montas, Dipoto has had to deal with large (long term) contracts that have hamstrung his flexibility, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him hesitate..
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