Mariners Rumors: Haniger, Gonzales

Although he’s coming off a season filled with adversity, Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger remains an appealing trade target around the league, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (subscription link). The Mariners would consider trading Haniger, but left-hander Marco Gonzales doesn’t appear to be available, per Rosenthal.

This arguably isn’t an ideal time for the Mariners to part with Haniger, whom a ruptured testicle limited to 283 plate appearances in 2019. When Haniger did play, he experienced a drop in production, as the 28-year-old hit .220/.314/.463 with 15 home runs and 1.1 fWAR. Before that, Haniger was somewhat quietly one of the majors’ most valuable outfielders from 2017-18, during which he slashed .284/.361/.492 with 42 homers and 7.0 fWAR across 1,093 trips to the plate.

As you’d expect, there was trade interest last winter in Haniger. The Mariners elected to hold him instead of selling high, though, and now he likely has less trade value after a difficult season. But Haniger still has three arbitration-eligible seasons left, and he’ll earn a projected $3MM in 2020 – factors that may help make him more intriguing than the best outfielders in this free-agent class (Nicholas Castellanos, Marcell Ozuna, Corey Dickerson and Yasiel Puig, to name a few).

As things stand, Haniger still looks like the Mariners’ preeminent outfielder, though they do have up-and-coming building blocks in Kyle Lewis and touted prospects Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez. While Kelenic and Rodriguez aren’t ready for the bigs yet, Lewis debuted at the game’s highest level in 2019 and impressed – albeit over just 75 PA. Rookie Shed Long also encouraged, though he may be better cut out for second base. Meanwhile, regulars Mallex Smith and Domingo Santana were merely replacement-level players in 2019.

Turning to the Mariners’ rotation, the soon-to-be 28-year-old Gonzales comes with even more control than Haniger. Gonzales still has four years remaining, including one more on the unconventional contract he signed with the Mariners last offseason. He’ll earn $1MM in 2020, which will continue to make Gonzales a steal for Seattle, with which he amassed a career-best 203 innings of 3.99 ERA/4.15 FIP pitching this year. He’s hands down the top starter the Mariners have right now, and there’s little doubt Gonzales would bring back a haul from another club. However, it doesn’t appear trade-happy general manager Jerry Dipoto is in any hurry to ship him out.

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