RF Nori Aoki
SS Ketel Marte
2B Robinson Cano
DH Nelson Cruz
3B Kyle Seager
1B Jesus Montero
LF Seth Smith/Franklin Gutierrez
C Chris Iannetta/Steve Clevenger
CF Leonys Martin
The guy currently listed at first base is Jesus Montero. Montero has been in the major leagues for five seasons and has hit .253/.295/.398 in 865 plate appearances. He came up to the big leagues as a catcher but was so bad behind the plate that they moved him to first base, where he is still just awful as a fielder. His best position would be DH, but he hasn’t hit well enough to be useful even as a DH. Basically, he’s a lesser version of Mark Trumbo, who the Mariners just traded away for a backup catcher. Of course, Montero will only make around $500,000 to Trumbo’s $9.1 million, so if he can be Trumbo-lite, he’ll be worth his salary. That being said, just being worth his salary isn’t enough to push the Mariners towards a postseason spot. You can only fill so many spots in the lineup with bargain basement players who might be worth their low cost. You have to get above average production somewhere. The Mariners should get above average production from Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and Nelson Cruz, and they don’t look to be terrible at the other spots, but another good bat would help them contend in a competitive AL West.
I expect the Mariners will find an upgrade at first base before the season starts. The Baseball Winter Meetings get going at the end of the week. This is a yearly event where team officials get together for seminars and league and organizational meetings. Trades are often made at the Winter Meetings, or at least trade talks get started and deals are made shortly thereafter. If the Mariners go the trade route for a first baseman, next week will be an important time for the club. If they don’t find a trade, they’ll have to look at the free agent market.
2012: 562 PA, 139 H, 75 R, 33 HR, 85 RBI, 2 SB, .270/.326/.501, 2.1 WAR
2013: 673 PA, 167 H, 103 R, 53 HR, 138 RBI, 4 SB, .286/.370/.634, 7.0 WAR
2014: 525 PA, 88 H, 65 R, 26 HR, 72 RBI, 2 SB, .196/.300/.404, 0.8 WAR
2015: 670 PA, 150 H, 100 R, 47 HR, 117 RBI, 2 SB, .262/.361/.562, 5.6 WAR
Davis was an elite talent in 2013 and 2015 but absolutely terrible in 2014. Steamer’s projection of just 2.4 WAR for next year says to be cautious, but Marcel has a more optimistic projection. Personally, I think that Steamer projection is very low and is weighed down by Davis’ terrible 2014 season, a season in which he dealt with injuries and a suspension. Davis was not allowed a therapeutic use exemption for Adderall, which he takes to combat ADD/ADHD. He was allowed an exemption for Adderall in 2013 and for a different ADD/ADHD medication called Vyvanse in 2015. I think that 2014 season is an outlier and I don’t see Davis dropping from a 5.6 WAR player to a 2.4 WAR player in one year. He’ll only be 30 years old in 2016. Talent-wise, Davis is the best free agent option for the Mariners at first base, but it remains to be seen if they would pay the price for him.
The remaining free agent options are all flawed players with one above average skill: hitting for power. Of these options, I could understand the team taking a chance on Steve Pearce to get some right-handed power from a player who can adequately play multiple positions, but the others just aren’t very exciting. Maybe it’s time to see what the team has in Jesus Montero, but if they want to contend for the playoffs next year, they should have a fallback option. It will be interesting to see what Jerry Dipoto has in mind for first base in 2016.