The Seattle Mariners haven’t reached the playoffs in two decades. They almost did it in 2021, winning 90 games, but they finished two short of the Wild Card and five out of the division, though they did manage to break the Oakland A’s hearts along the way.
Now they’re gearing up for another run in 2022.
The Mariners made a pair of impact moves over the past few days. On Saturday they acquired All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier from the Padres, and on Monday they signed reigning Cy Young winner Robbie Ray for five years and $115 million.
Ray was a nearly unanimous choice for the AL’s top pitching award this year, leading the league in ERA, innings, and strikeouts as a member of the Blue Jays. The lefty always had a reputation for monster strikeout rates, and he got Cy votes once before in 2017, but he took a step forward this summer at age 29 with sharper command and a reduced walk rate. He gets an opt-out clause in his new contract that he can exercise after 2024.
Frazier started the All-Star Game in 2021 as a member of the Pirates, then was traded to San Diego at the July deadline. He put himself on the map in Pittsburgh as a strong defender with decent on-base skills, then upped the ante last year by batting .305 and posting around 4 WAR. He’ll play at age 30 next season and is projected to earn around $7.2 million in his final turn through arbitration.
These are a pair of significant upgrades for Seattle. Ray gives them an instant ace atop a rotation that already had a few quality arms (Gonzales, Flexen, Gilbert, among others), and Frazier joins a lineup whose core is getting impressive (Haniger, Lewis, Crawford, France, Toro, plus young outfielders Kelenic and Rodriguez).
The additions also help offset some of the Mariners own free agent losses this winter. Longtime third baseman Kyle Seager came off the books, as did starting pitchers Yusei Kikuchi and July rental Tyler Anderson, and now both the infield and rotation have quickly received serious reinforcements.
The AL West still belongs to the Astros until further notice, but Seattle is making a push to take over the division. Maybe it’ll work this time! They’ve made huge splashes before and still missed October, but one day they’ll get there. Right?
Either way, the division is rapidly getting a lot tougher this week, as the Texas Rangers also loaded up with a half-billion dollars worth of free agents. That’s bummer news for the A’s, who have to face all these rivals 19 times each summer and compete with them in the standings.