Written by: Coleman Bahr – Staff Writer (@ColemanBahr)
Since 2004, the Seattle Mariners have only tallied four winning seasons, finishing in last place more times than any other team in the American League West in that span (8). However, things are on the upswing for this franchise.
They have finished with a winning record in two of the last three seasons, and they were active buyers in the offseason. They bolstered an already buff offense that should be tough for any pitcher to stop, pending injuries of course.
However, one thing that the Seattle Mariners lacked in 2016 was speed. They only had two players with double digit steals last season, Ketel Marte and Leonys Martin, and they lost Ketel Marte in a trade in the offseason. But, they were able to bring in a few guys that will light up the basepaths this season.
The first key addition is Jarrod Dyson. Dyson was in line to be the fourth outfielder on the Kansas City Royals, but now he has the opportunity to potentially lead off for the Mariners after the Royals dealt out Dyson for Nathan Karns. Dyson has nabbed at least 25 stolen bases in every season since 2012, and with guys like Cano and Cruz hitting behind him, he should be a lock for at least 30 steals this year.
The Mariners made another huge splash when they traded away Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte in a five-player deal, the biggest acquisition being Jean Segura. Segura burst onto the scene in 2016 with a .319 batting average, along with 20 homeruns and 33 stolen bases.
Segura is one of the best base stealers in the league, picking up at least 20 steals in every full season he has played, including 44 steals back in 2013. His unique combination of power and speed should translate very well batting out of the two hole in an already stacked lineup.
The Mariners look to have one of the best offenses in the American League on paper, but the pitching is no sure thing. Luckily, they were able to resign Hisashi Iwakuma in the offseason, but with the departure of Taijuan Walker and Nathan Karns, it will be up to the newcomer, Drew Smyly, and the youngster, Ariel Miranda, to pick up the slack.
Smyly was a shell of his former self last season, posting a 7-11 record with a 4.24 ERA, but Miranda actually wasn’t too shabby in his first season as a starter. Nonetheless, he will need to carry his momentum into 2017 as teams begin to develop a scouting report on him. If the back end of the rotation can find some consistency, this will be a scary team to face in 2017.
While there is no sure thing in baseball, the Seattle Mariners are back. While I do not expect 116 wins like they pulled back in 2001, I am firm believer that the Seattle Mariners will hoist the AL West crown when October rolls around.