Three free agents the Mariners should target to help middle infield production

The 2022 version of the Seattle Mariners were a feelgood story, winning 90 games and making their first postseason appearance since the 2001 season.

Led by outfielder Julio Rodriguez (6.2 bWAR, 28 HR, .284 AVG) and infielder Ty France (3.1 bWAR, 20 HR, .274 AVG), this team had very little troubles stealing bases, hitting homers and scoring runs.

Where the offense fell short, however, is the middle infield. The club ran with a mixture of J.P. Crawford, Adam Frazier, Abraham Toro, Dylan Moore and Sam Haggerty over the course of the season. Combined, this group ranked 27th in the majors in doubles, 29th in home runs and 26th in batting average.

Crawford (2.8 bWAR, 6 HR, .243 AVG) had an okay season at the plate and was a defensive wizard at shortstop but each of the other names in the group performed poorly and are not to be viewed as building blocks for this Mariners club moving forward.

GM Jerry DiPoto has made it known that the team’s preference is to keep Crawford at short and sign one of the big free agent shortstops to play second base.

Here are three names the Mariners can realistically target in free agency:

Xander Bogaerts (5.8 bWAR, 15 HR, .307 AVG)

Bogaerts, a four-time All-Star and five-time Silver Slugger Award recipient, is a free agent for the first time in his career after failing to sign an extension with the Red Sox in-season.

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi said in a recent conversation with Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob (link here and here) that he could see Bogaerts and Julio Rodriguez blending well in terms of being co-leaders in the clubhouse.

“Bogey” comes with 10 years of MLB experience under his belt and already has two World Series rings. He comes with extensive experience with playing on the biggest stage and since the Mariners are eyeing World Series contention in the immediate future, look no further than Mr. Bogaerts.

While it’s difficult seeing the Mariners dish out a contract of over $200M on the free agent market, Bogaerts may be the exception.

Jean Segura (1.8 bWAR, 10 HR, .277 AVG)

Segura, 32, is coming off of a bit of a down year with the Phillies, but he continues to be a respectable veteran that can play second, third or short for a club.

Segura, an 11-year veteran in the big leagues, has hit double digit home run totals in each non-2020 season since 2016 and remains an adequate defender (0.8 defensive WAR in 2021 and 0.3 in 2022). 

What may make Segura an attractive option is the fact that his price tag will be quite a bit lower than someone like Bogaerts, Trea Turner or Carlos Correa. MLB Trade Rumors projects he will sign a two-year, $18M contract. One of the four panelists put the Mariners down as the projected landing spot for him.

Brandon Drury (2.6 bWAR, 28 HR, .263 AVG)

30-year-old Brandon Drury does not fit the specific mold of “shortstop willing to play second base” but he is a natural second baseman who is also capable of bouncing around both the infield and outfield.

Fresh off of a breakout campaign in which he hit a career-high 28 home runs, Drury is likely to have a long list of potential suitors for the upcoming season. MLB Trade Rumors projects that he will also sign a two-year, $18M contract. 

It is not out of the question that Seattle would target either Bogaerts alone or both Drury and Segura together. The latter is obviously going to be much cheaper but the former’s value would be through the roof for a Mariners club that so desperately needs better production from its middle infielders.

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