by Henry Miller | Sports Editor
For any sports fans who have grown up rooting for Washington based sports, the Seattle Mariners have been the near-and-dear, lovable losers that hold a special place in our hearts. However, since the teams immaculate 116 win season in 2001, the Mariners have yet to make the playoffs, this being the longest playoff drought in North American professional sports. With the Washington Nationals’ recent World Series victory, the Mariners also became the only team in the MLB to have never reached the World Series.
Is it time to start worrying about Seattle losing the Mariners to a new owner that may wish to move the team to a new location? They have checked all the boxes of a franchise that can’t seem to find a winning formula. Over the last ten seasons, the M’s have only finished with a winning record in four. Over the same period, the M’s have also gone through five different managers. With Seattle fans continually reminded of what could have been an exciting Seattle Supersonics basketball team after it was ripped away from us, the very same thing could be coming for the Mariners if things do not change soon.
I am of the opinion that the Mariners have five years to make a serious playoff run before murmurs of the beloved Mariners’ departure become more than just rumors. The Mariners have been a staple of Pacific Northwest sports for the past 40 years. They rarely send more than the single team representative to the all-star game, with the last being in 2018 when second baseman Robinson Cano, Shortstop Jean Segura, and Outfielder Mitch Haniger all made an appearance. The Mariners tend to lack the pull to bring large free agents to Seattle, the last being an aging Robinson Cano in 2014 who didn’t produce nearly the offensive output he was thought to be bringing and was traded after the 2018 offseason.
It will take a combination of minor league asset development and free agent acquisition to revamp the Mariners into a playoff force once again. Good thing for the Mariners they already have half of this plan started. The Mariners farm system was ranked fifth in the MLB by league GM’s. Outfielder Jared Kelenic is heralded as the “left handed Mike Trout” by scouts and should make his major league debut by the end of this season. Shortstop JP Crawford has already made a big impact defensively for the Mariners last season. Outfield prospect Julio Rodriguez has also made big strides toward making his his major league debut. As for the free agent signings, Cubs Third baseman Kris Bryant is looking for to sign with a new team once his contract is up at the end of the 2020 season. Bryant would be a huge piece to add and is in the right talent spectrum to sign with Seattle. Mets left handed pitcher Noah Syndergaard would be the ace the Mariners need to add to a rotation that already features Marco Gonzalez who lead the team in wins above replacement (WAR) last season. Reds ace Trevor Bauer is another free agent that fits the Mariner’s analytics favored style of player. General manager Jerry Dipoto has been told he will be receiving unprecedented amounts of funds to acquire free agents for the foreseeable future.
Once these moves are made and barring any serious injuries to the aforementioned prospects, the Mariners should be in position to finally break their playoff doubt. The sense of urgency in the Mariners organization should be more elevated than ever. The time to show value to the rest of the league comes in the next five years.