Over a year ago, Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto publicly declared that the club would not be supplanting J.P. Crawford at shortstop. That was despite a huge class of free agent shortstops that existed at that time, including Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Marcus Semien and Javier Baez.
Coming into this offseason, Dipoto stuck to his guns but said that his “great preference” would be to land a shortstop to play second base. This year features another strong class of free agent shortstops, with Correa on the market again, this time alongside Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson. However, they may be getting priced out of the bidding, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes that the expected prices of those shortstops are making it likelier that the M’s pursue a left-handed hitting second baseman to platoon with Dylan Moore.
The Mariners already had such a player in 2022, acquiring Adam Frazier from the Padres going into the year. He only had one year of club control remaining at the time and is now a free agent. The Mariners could always bring him back, but his bat took a step back this year. After hitting .305/.368/.411 in 2021 for a wRC+ of 113, he hit just .238/.301/.311 for a wRC+ of 81. Given that dip in production, the club might look for other options.
The other free agent options aren’t terribly exciting. Robinson Cano missed all of 2021 due to a PED suspension, had a worse season than Frazier and is now 40 years old. Switch-hitters Cesar Hernandez and Jonathan Villar also both had worse years than Frazier in 2022. Perhaps the best fit would be Jace Peterson, who has hit .238/.337/.373 over the past three seasons for a wRC+ of 98. His defensive grades are strong overall though that’s mostly due to excellent work at third base, with his numbers more middling elsewhere.
Given Dipoto’s penchant for the trade market has earned him the nickname “Trader Jerry,” perhaps that is the most likely route the club would take to address the keystone. Rosenthal speculates Kolten Wong as a fit, which is a match that has already been reported in recent weeks. However, Rosenthal also suggests they could target cheaper and more controllable players, since Wong will make $10MM in 2023 and then become a free agent.