The Seattle Mariners are currently selling and selling a ton, and the Blue Jays should be checking on the asking price of Mitch Haniger.
The Seattle Mariners have completely torn down their roster in trading James Paxton, Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Jean Segura, Mike Zunino, Alex Colome, and a few others. They still are looking to move more salary with the likes of Kyle Seager, Dee Gordon, and likely a few of the new acquisitions like Jay Bruce or Carlos Santana. The Blue Jays should be checking in on the Mariners to see what the asking price would be on Mitch Haniger, as he would be a lovely fit for the Blue Jays.
Now, Mitch Haniger would be a lovely fit on 28 other major league baseball teams too, as he’s under team control until 2023. Being under club control until 2023 could be a big benefit to the Blue Jays as he’d be here for the next competitive window that could open up by 2021 once Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are established big leaguers. Haniger is going to be 28 in a few weeks and whatever team potentially gets the slugger would have him right through his age 33 season.
Out of the players remaining on Seattle’s roster, Haniger would command the biggest return for the Mariners. Kyle Seager is 31 and has declined each year since his great 2016 where he posted a 134 wRC+ and 5.1 fWAR. Dee Gordon is heading into his age 31 season and was right at replacement level in 2018. It would be tough to find takers and get anything notable in return for Carlos Santana, Ryon Healy or Jay Bruce. You get the point. Haniger will be expensive.
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In 410 at-bats in 2017, Haniger had a 2.5 fWAR and a 130 wRC+. In 683 at-bats in 2018, Haniger improved to a 138 wRC+ and upped is fWAR to 4.6. In his brief major league career, Haniger has shown an ability to get on-base consistently, hit for average, hit for power, and can play decent defense. He is the whole package.
The Blue Jays are currently penciled to head into 2018 with a likely group of Billy McKinney, Kevin Pillar, and Randal Grichuk, with Teoscar Hernandez sprinkled in as well. The Blue Jays also have Anthony Alford, Dwight Smith Jr., and Jonathan Davis vying for spots in the outfield sooner rather than later. Smith Jr. has had the most time at the bigs and has shown he can be a good 4th outfielder. Alford was the blue chipper, but injuries have derailed his career and excitement about his future.
The Blue Jays simply don’t have a star waiting in the wings to anchor the outfield during the era of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. They have tons of infielders and a mix of starting pitching depth. The outfield lacks excitement from the majors down to the minors, which is why you see them experimenting with Cavan Biggio in the outfield. Plus, there’s an infield clutter.
Mitch Haniger would command a king’s ransom, but the Blue Jays may be able to take advantage and sell high on some prospects like Kevin Smith or Biggio to hopefully steer the Mariners away from Bo Bichette. It seems likely that Bichette would be the starter for Haniger with another piece or two attached. That price tag starts to seem high for Haniger, but with the depth in the system and a need in the outfield, could the front office pull the trigger on Haniger if it means moving Bichette? We did this last year with Christian Yelich, so I won’t stir up this debate again, but it’s something to consider.
In my mind, Mitch Haniger fits exactly what the Blue Jays need for the Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette (if Bo isn’t included) led Blue Jays. If the Mariners continue to sell which by all accounts they will do so, the front office absolutely needs to look hard at Mitch Haniger and consider a big deal to land him.